Hi! My name is Joel Kluender and I'm blessed to serve St. Paul's (Platteville) & Faith (Lancaster) Lutheran churches. Here's a little bit about me:
When people ask me, "where did you grow up?" I have to say, "It's complicated!" I was born in Massachusetts when my father was working as a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard University. When he was done with that phase of his life, my parents moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where my father worked as a pharmaceutical chemist. Over the years, largely due to my father's work but also my own education and work, I've also lived in Indiana, Germany, Michigan, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin! I told you it was complicated!
In my first career I was an electrical engineer working in the semiconductor industry. After earning my B.S. at the University of Connecticut and my M.S. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I was a Technology Development Engineer in the Minneapolis area for eight years before making the decision to go back to school to pursue a different passion: pastoral ministry. After two years at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota, and four years at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin, I earned my M.Div. degree and was ordained into the pastoral ministry at Northside Lutheran Ministries in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After two years at Northside, I served 6 and a half years at Bethany Lutheran Church in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). Since January of 2019, I have been serving as the pastor of St. Paul's (Platteville) and Faith (Lancaster). I am happy to be back in Wisconsin in dairy country! My grandfather was a dairy farmer in Baraboo, and I have fond memories of visiting the farm as a child.
My wife, Jennifer, grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Naperville, Illinois, and earned her B.A. in English from Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee. She is a massive Packer Backer, an avid fisherwoman, and when we married in 1994, she made sure that I would share her passions before she said, "yes!" I am truly blessed to have her by my side in life and in ministry.
Jennifer and I have been blessed with three children: Samuel, who works as an IT professional for CVS/Aetna in Connecticut; Hannah, who is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying International & Area Studies; and Grace, who is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying Public Policy. We are so thankful to God for giving us them!
I have two major hobbies for which I have too little time. My first hobby love is amateur ("ham") radio, callsign W9JFK, but I also enjoy researching my deep German roots through Ancestry.com, in libraries, and also on location in the various places of my origin. Fun fact -- my great-great-grandfather, Christoph Kessler, was a pastor for around a year in Platteville, from 1859-1860.
I am excited to serve in Platteville, Lancaster, and the surrounding region. God has given us so many opportunities to pursue as a body of believers. I look forward to many years among you, Lord willing. Only God knows what the future holds, but we know that HE holds the future, and he loves us!