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Alumni highlight: Rev. Runtsch

PT Head and Shoulders A July 2015 - CopyRev. Tim Runtsch (’90) has served as senior pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, Colo., since July 1990. Born in 1963, he was raised in Austin, Minn.

Runtsch received his bachelor’s degree in 1986 from Concordia College St. Paul. He then went on to Concordia Seminary. His year of vicarage (internship) was spent doing campus ministry at First Lutheran Church in Gainesville, Fla., the home of the University of Florida. He graduated from the Seminary in 1990 and was assigned to Redeemer.

“P.T.,” as he is often called by those who know him, is Redeemer’s first full-time pastor. When he came to the church as a mission planter in 1990, the congregation numbered just 26 people. Sunday morning services were held in a nursing home chapel. During his tenure as pastor, the congregation has grown tremendously. Now the congregation has an average weekly worship attendance of more than 1,300 people. In 2010, Redeemer launched a second location in nearby Greeley, Colo. Redeemer has more than 40 full- and part-time staff members.

One very special ministry at Redeemer is the community garden that is located on-site. Scott Coerber, a Specific Ministry Pastor at the church, started the garden after being inspired by Seminary Professor Dr. Charles Arand’s care-of-the-earth ministry ideas. At the same time, a few of the church’s members became passionate about helping people who were poor and in need in the community.

They embraced this concept with a passion. After a few meetings with the Food Bank for Larimer County, they were ready to launch the garden. Last summer, the Redeemer Community Garden harvested almost 10,000 pounds of fresh produce. The harvest included tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, melons and cucumbers. This year will mark the first harvest of the Redeemer Community Orchard, an apple orchard of 30 trees that was planted three years ago next to the garden. All of the produce that is harvested each week is given to the Food Bank, which then distributes it to people in need in the community. They are very appreciative of the fresh produce, in contrast to the canned vegetables and out-of-date produce often passed on by grocery stores. The garden is maintained by faithful volunteers who come from the Redeemer church family and the community. Sorority and fraternity groups also use the garden as a philanthropic effort.

Throughout his years in Fort Collins, Runtsch also has been involved in a wide variety of other community and church-wide efforts including serving on the steering committee of the LCMS Youth Gathering, Fort Collins Church Network, TEAM Fort Collins, the Larimer County Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force, the Faith Advisory Committee of the Poudre School District, Habitat for Humanity, Crossroads Safehouse battered women’s shelter and more. He helped establish Project Smile, a nonprofit that offers free dental care to hundreds of children from low income families in local public schools. In fall 2012, he helped lead the launching of Project Harmony, an effort that gives free music lessons to children from low income families in local public schools.

Runtsch served on the board of directors of Lutheran Family Services (LFS) of Colorado from 1998 to 2007, the last two of which he served as chairman. LFS serves the people of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region through a variety of social service ministries that heal, strengthen and provide hope.

Runtsch also is involved in international ministry. He serves as a member of the Lutheran World Relief (LWR) board of directors. For eight years he has also served as the Ethiopia team leader for Pastoral Leadership Institute-International and travels annually to Ethiopia to offer advanced leadership training for leaders and clergy of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), one of the largest and fastest growing Lutheran church bodies in the world. It now has nearly 5 million members. Other international mission experience for Runtsch includes travel to and involvement with the church’s work in India, Japan and Palestine.

He is frequently called upon as a conference speaker. He was part of the dean/lecturer team at Camp Arcadia in Arcadia, Mich., during the last two summers.

In his spare time, Runtsch enjoys the Colorado outdoors, travel, golf and snow skiing.

Runtsch and his wife, Ann, have two children; Elisa, 15, and Micah, 12. Ann is a registered nurse at the Cancer Center of the Rockies. The family lives near Windsor, Colo.