In Memory of Rev. Dr. Sue Bertolette

This page is In Memory of Rev. Dr. Susan C. Bertolette, Former Associate Pastor, Co-Pastor, Senior Pastor & Pastor Emerita – August 13, 1955 – August 4, 2022

From the Herald of July 16-23, 2023: “We will take a few moments at the end of worship on July 30th to remember Rev. Sue and mark the anniversary of her passing. We encourage folks to visit the meditation garden throughout the week, to remember, pray, and fellowship in the place she treasured.”


Rev. Dr. Susan C. “Sue” Bertolette came to St. John’s in June of 1980, beginning as our Associate Pastor just one day after her ordination into the Christian ministry. Sue received a B.S. degree is in Psychology from Eastern University in St. David’s, PA (1977) and her M. Div. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (1980), and earned her Doctor of Ministry degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pa. in 1993.  When Rev. Dr. John Touchberry retired in July, 1999, Sue was elected as St. John’s seventh Senior Pastor on August 1, 1999.  Pastor Sue celebrated her 42th anniversary in the ministry and at St. John’s on June 1, 2022, and retired from the Senior Pastor position on June 15, 2022.  On June 12, 2022 she was named Pastor Emerita of St. John’s in honor of all her accomplishments at St. John’s. the PSEC and the community.  (Read more about Rev. Sue on the ‘History of our Pastors’ webpage.)  After a long fight with cancer in her final years of ministry, Rev. Sue passed away on August 4, 2022 and is greatly missed by everyone who’s lives she touched at St. John’s & beyond.

On Rev. Sue’s retirement service June 12, 2022, a gift was given to our Children’s Library in honor of Rev. Sue’s 42 year ministry. At present, these books are on display in our main library just off the church sanctuary.  Visit the library to see 42 books that are all “Rev. Sue Favorites!”, new copies of children’s books selected as Rev. Sue’s favorites.  Rev. Sue loved children’s books and would occassionally include them in her Children’s Message.  Each month 3 of these books have been highlighted in The Enlightener. These books are available for adults & children to borrow for a week. Please use the purple notebook to check out your book; help us take good care of these special books, purchased in honor of Rev. Sue. A reminder that here are more excellent children’s books downstairs in our Children’s Library!



Thursday, August 4, 2022: A Message From Acting Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor Rev. Adelaide Stong:  Announcement of Rev. Sue’s Passing to the Congregation:


Beloved St. John’s members and friends,


It is with deep, deep sadness that I write to you to let you know of the passing of our beloved Rev. Sue Bertolette. Early this morning, surrounded by loved ones and covered by the prayers of many, she entered into eternal rest and fullness of life, held, body and soul, in the loving hands of the one who created her.


Though we, as a community, have been journeying with Sue throughout her long cancer journey and throughout her time on Hospice, the loss is still great and the sadness profound. Rev. Sue held you, the members and friends of St. John’s, close to her heart, and it felt important to share this critical information with you promptly, clearly, and with great care.


I urge you, my friends, to hold and share this information with that same tender care. As a church family, please reach out to one another to offer your comfort, support, and love as you grieve the loss of a beloved pastor, teacher, leader, and friend.


The family has found great strength in the outpouring of love and support that all of you have offered during this critical time. Your prayers have made all the difference over the years, but especially over the past few weeks. As we know, prayer strengthened Sue throughout her ministry and her long and difficult cancer journey. I know she felt you surrounding her in her final days, and now, I am counting on your prayers of comfort and peace to continue for her family as they navigate this tremendous loss. As you continue to hold them and be the warm, loving community of St. John’s, please call, text, email, and message the family with great mindfulness and discretion.


(Edited: Arrangements: There were 2 opportunities to greet the family on August 11th and August 12th. The service to celebrate Sue’s life took place August 12th in the sanctuary.  The audio can be heard on our Audio page of this website.)


My friends, hope in God’s promises is what sustained Rev. Sue until the end and what she gracefully and faithfully stepped into as her body left us this morning. It is that same hope and those same promises that we cling to now, knowing that we do not do so alone and, as Rev. Sue always said, “trusting that God has hands large enough and strong enough to hold each one of us.” May it be so as we grieve and remember.


With love,
Rev. Addie