William “Rick” and Leslie Renninger
Both Rick and Leslie grew up in the Western suburbs of Philadelphia. In January 1970, while a freshman at Elizabethtown College, a friend challenged Rick to read the Bible daily. Rick had trusted in Christ at an early age, but reading the Bible while at college proved to be transformative. Sophomore year brought a change of major from Business to Religion & Philosophy. In the Spring of his Junior year, one of the Religion professors gave Rick a Bible with an inscription that captures his heart’s desire to this day. He wrote: “May the Mastery of this Book of books and the Living of its teachings be your life’s task.”
Rick went to Western Seminary in Portland, OR directly after college. Having depleted his savings after his first year of studies and a summer in Israel, he took a year off to work. He got a job on the Reading Railroad and co-led the Singles’ ministry at Church of the Savior in Wayne, PA. It was there that he singled out Leslie, who had begun her career teaching children with learning disabilities. Leslie and Rick married on December 6th, 1975 and returned to Portland, where Leslie earned her PHT degree (Putting Hubby Through) and Rick earned M.Div. and Th.M. degrees.
The next significant events in Rick and Leslie’s lives were the birth of their first child, Laura, and their move to Belgium. Rick taught at the Belgian Bible Institute, primarily in the area of Old Testament. After 13 ½ years of serving in Belgium and being blessed with two more children, Daniel and Marcus, they returned to Pennsylvania. Rick had begun Ph.D. studies in Belgiumat the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit and completed them in 2000.
Leslie returned to her teaching career, and Rick taught theology and philosophy at Alvernia University in Reading, PA for the next 12 years having taught some 80 classes during his time there. He also served at Community Evangelical Free Church (CEFC) in Elverson,PA, the past ten years as an elder, and seven of those years as the elder overseeing the deacon ministry. Rick and Leslie also celebrated the marriages of two of their three children since their return from Belgium and the expansion of their family with the addition of five grandchildren.
Rick learned about ELI through Joel McCall, who is a former pastor of CEFC. In March 2010 and March 2012 Joel and Rick paired up to teach at the Antioch Graduate College of Theology in Akure,Nigeria. The Nigerian pastors’ hunger to dig deeper into the Word of God is an obvious working of the Spirit of God which will powerfully benefit their churches. Rick considers the opportunity to be part of what the Lord of the harvest is doing in places like Nigerian not only strategic but a joyous privilege.