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E. Phillip Lersch

E. Phillip Lersch, age 89, of St. Petersburg, passed away Sunday, January 3, 2021, at the Suncoast Hospice Care Center Mid-Pinellas.

Rev. Phil Lersch was born in Ashland, Ohio. He graduated from Ashland College where was active on the football and basketball teams, and Ashland Theological Seminary. After seminary he was national youth director for the Brethren Church and then pastor of the Park Street Brethren Church in Ashland.

Coming to St. Petersburg in 1967, he and his wife Jean established Brethren House Ministries, a neighborhood ministry for 30 years in northwest St. Petersburg. They also developed, published and shared Christian education materials with teachers of all denominations by traveling for 19 years from coast to coast leading workshops. He was also the pastor of the First Church of the Brethren in St. Petersburg for 10 years.

Surviving is his wife of 67 years, Jean Lersch, and brother Jim Ledman of Upper Arlington, OH.  Also surviving are children John (JoAnn) Lersch of Pinellas Park, FL, and Sue Brock of Dunnellon, FL, 5 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no gatherings or services are planned at this time.

Contributions may be made in his memory to World Relief at

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  • Ronald W Waters says:

    Jean, John, Susan, and your families – I extend my deepest condolences to you all in your loss of Phil. My heart goes out to you and I’m remembering you in my prayers. Blessings to you all.

    Ron Waters

  • Brenda Bell says:

    John and JoAnn we are so sorry for your loss. Our condolences to you and your family.
    Brenda and Brian Bell

  • Dan Laurenti says:

    Dear Lersch Family,
    Your Dad/Grandfather was dedicated to making the world a better place. He was kind, generous and fought for the principle of Equality for everyone. His legacy will be carried on by your family in the way you all care for and help anyone in need.
    I give you my sincere condolences and know how proud you are of the man he is and the lessons he taught you.

    Your friend,

    Dan Laurenti

  • Evelie Davis says:

    As President of The St. Petersburg Community Band we want to extend our sincere sympathies to You , the family of our dear friend Phil. He played Trombone with us many years and also facilitated our rehearsals in the church’s Fellowship Hall. We will miss him and his gentle spirit. It was a privilege to know Phil.

  • Judy Sarazen says:

    Prayers of comfort to the Lersch family in the loss of your Dad, Grandpa, and GreatGrandpa. He will be missed by many, many people. He was a loving , caring, friend who
    and neighbor who showed his love for others in everything he did everyday. Thank you, Phil for making my life a better one. Blessings to Jean, John, Susan and all the family. Judy Sarazen

  • Donna Hastings says:

    I have such good memories of Phil and my dad, Don Ashman, talking about memories and telling jokes together. Phil’s mother was my dad’s sister. Our prayers and love to the Lersch family.
    Donna and Ned Hastings

  • Debi and Cliff Turner says:

    John and JoAnn and Family,

    Our hearts go out to you in your loss. You are so blessed to have a wonderful dad as he.The beautiful reality is he lives forever and your separation is temporary. All of our love, prayers and admiration to you and your family.

  • Susan Smith says:

    My condolences to all of his wonderful family. I cannot fully express how much Pastor Phil touched my life, as a disciple, a peacemaker and a pastor. He was a friend as well as a mentor in so many ways. Jesus has gained a saint. Here is a few pictures and memories. Blessings and comfort…Sue

  • Joann Flymn says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the whole family

  • Gary and Carolann Oswald says:

    To the family of Phil Lersch, we send caring thoughts at this difficult time. Keeping you in our prayers. Gary and Carolann (Ashman) Oswald, Wooster OH

  • Karen Craven says:

    My brother Kevin Lilly and I have such sweet memories of Pastor Lersch and the Brethren House he and Mrs. Lersch provided for the neighborhood children and many more to have a safe place to hang out together, do your homework, play games and more. What a celebration he is having. We are so sorry Gor your loss. Give Mrs. Lersch a hug for us.

  • Jennie Ramirez says:

    Dearest Jean and family,
    I am so sorry to hear of Phil’s passing. He was a wonderful, kind man who exemplified peace.
    I enjoyed the time we spent together in Children’s Disaster Services. You both were so kind to open your home to the three of us from Pennsylvania during Hurricane Frances. You certainly made this California native feel secure during her first hurricane! Blessings on all of your family during this difficult time. Peace, Jennie Ramirez

  • Paul Hudson-Bourdeau says:

    My condolences to the family. Reverend Lersch was truly a teacher, inspirer, and a man of God and faith. He touched my families lives in more ways than I can state. He will be truly missed. Our prayers are with the whole family as you go through these trying times.

  • Mary Ellen Drushal says:

    Phil Lersch married us and Jean played the organ for our service. We were their first two members at Brethren House, so we have a long history with them. On our 50th wedding anniversary, we drove to St. Pete and took them to lunch after worship that day! Losing Phil is like losing a sibling. I know all you kids and his sibling will miss him dearly, but I’m praising God that we are assured he is walking with his Lord and Master for all eternity!

  • Judy (Ashman) Fairman says:

    Dear Jean and family, I was so sorry to hear about Phil’s home going. My Dad and Mom knew you guys better than I did but I do
    Remember meeting you both when I came down to St. Pete for 2 years in the mid 70’s. My that was a long time ago even for relatives. I know loss is so hard and you will miss Uncle Phil tremendously but all the other saints in heaven (including my mom and dad-Charles and Frances Ashman ) are having a glorious reunion. May God help you through these hard days as you share wonderful Memories together.

  • Rick and Deborah Slone says:

    Our heart felt sympathy goes out to the family for their great loss. Our joy and relief is in knowing Rev. Phil was truly a servant of God and shall rest in God’s grace then eternally be with the Lord. It was our great honor and pleasure to serve with him as Deacons and to know him as a dear friend. Our prayers for Jean continue as she deals with this loss. He has brought many people to knowledge of Christ and devoted his life to be a servant of the Lord.

  • Diane Sprague Park says:

    Dear Jean, John, Susan,and Families, So very sorry to hear about Phil’s passing. He has always been someone I admired for his fierce love of family. I so appreciated him keeping in touch with me even just recently sending me a personal note about David. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this difficult time. With love and sympathy, Diane and Jim Park

  • John Byron says:

    Everyone at Ashland Theological Seminary would like to express our sympathies to the family and friends of Reverend Lersch. We are thankful for his lifelong minister and legacy with the Brethren Church both in Ohio and Florida. You are in our prayers.

    John Byron PhD
    Dean of the Seminary

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