In Memoriam: The Rev. Arthur Brunner

Monday, January 30th, 2023

Seal of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

The Very Reverend Arthur F. Brunner, age 90, died on Saturday, January 28.  He is survived by his wife Joan (nee Lafferty) of 70 years.

Born on February 21, 1932 in Providence, Rhode Island, Brunner attended Brown University and graduated from Temple University in 1958. He spent two years in the Army and graduated from Philadelphia Divinity School in 1960.  Brunner served as rector of St. Stephen’s, Wissahickon; St. David’s, Manayunk; and at Calvary, Rockdale, for 37 years, where he remained Rector Emeritus (now Resurrection, Rockdale.)  He also served as dean of the Brandywine Deanery. Brunner was active on numerous non-profit boards including Episcopal Community Services (ECS), North Light Boys Club and Contact Philadelphia.  He was also the recipient of the Philadelphia Human Rights Award.

In a 1959 article on small churches, Brunner (then a seminarian) wrote that “the challenge to a small church is to become so great a light that it cannot be blown out,” to remember it is the brightness of the glow that counts.

A staunch advocate for social justice efforts in Philadelphia, Brunner’s connection to ECS goes back to the 1950s. As an urban priest in Philadelphia, he was devoted to the issues that affected his communities. When the bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania sent him and a group of priests to study at Chicago’s Urban Training Center, they were assigned to try an activity called “The Plunge.” Each priest was tasked with living on the streets for one week with no more than five dollars. Transformed, the experience strengthened his commitment to equality. [i]

Brunner was an avid boater spending many hours on the Chesapeake at Harbor North Yacht Club and Great Oak Yacht Club.  He and Joan retired to Cape May, New Jersey and also enjoyed spending time in the Florida Keys later in life.

In addition to his wife Joan, he was father to Gail Brunner (Dave), Glenn Brunner (Marguerite), Lisa Brunner-Bireley (Scott), Karl Brunner (deceased), Kurt Brunner (Carol), Micah Brunner (Mary Beth); and grandfather to Lauren Bireley Ranieri (Vic), Christine McEntee (Joe), Alexis Beckman (Chuck), Claudia Murphy (deceased), Eric Brunner (Allie), Kyle Brunner (Glenn, Gavin), Emily Kavanagh (Brian), and Allie Brunner; and great grandfather to Mia, Hunter, Logan and Paige.  Brother of Steven Brunner.

Visitation is on Friday, February 3, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. and funeral at 11:00 a.m. at Resurrection Episcopal Church, Rockdale, PA.  (For directions use, 667 Mount Road, Ashton, PA 19014.) In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Resurrection Episcopal Church or Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia.


Condolences can be sent to

Joan Brunner

Wesley Enhanced Living

100 Halcyon Drive


Media, PA 19063




[i] From the Episcopal Community Services web site.