Philip A. (Phil) Gardner has been our pastor since January of 2000. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and attended Capital University, where he met his wife-to-be Janet Shockney, a native of Perkins Township here in Erie County. Janet and Phil were married at her home church, St. Paul Lutheran, Sandusky, in 1977.
Graduating as a speech major in 1975, Phil began a first career in radio journalism in Columbus. With changes at the radio station, he began to reconsider the possibility of pastoral ministry, a thought he had carried with him since his days in confirmation class. On the strong recommendation of his home pastor, he took up the idea and enrolled at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus in 1981. He interned at Faith Lutheran Church, Arlington, Virginia, from 1983 to 1984, and he graduated from seminary in 1985. Pastor Gardner’s first call was to St. Paul, Lancaster, Ohio. The move to Sandusky in 2000 allowed Janet the opportunity to come back home, and Trinity Congregation provided Pastor Gardner with a new set of opportunities and challenges for ministry and mission.
Our pastor has served as vice president and president of the Sandusky Area Ministerial Association. He was vitally involved in the creation of our ELCA cluster of local congregations, Sandusky Area Lutherans in Mission (SALM), and has twice served as pastoral advisor to the SALM board. He supports the Christian Community for Youth in its activities for students in the Margaretta Local School District, and he has spoken at the organization’s baccalaureate service for Margaretta’s graduating seniors. Pastor Gardner has served on the board of the Safe Harbour Domestic Violence Shelter, and he is currently a member of “Partners for Prevention,” a community group hosted by the Erie County Health Department toward keeping youth and others from drug and alcohol abuse.
Pastor Gardner had been an internship supervisor in his previous congregation. At the request of the Northwestern Ohio Synod of the ELCA, Pastor Gardner encouraged Trinity Congregation to welcome its first-ever pastoral intern, Sharon Brown, in August of 2011. Together, the two of them engaged Trinity Congregation in an ongoing adopt-a-school relationship with Venice Heights Elementary School in the Sandusky City School District.
Janet Gardner is retired from public service as a social worker for persons with developmental disabilities. She volunteers in an adult reading program through the Sandusky Public Library. Janet and Phil live in Perkins Township with their golden retriever, Maggie.