Faith has been a big part of the lives of Judith and Richard Reuning from the first time the northwest Columbus couple met years ago in their hometown of Wellsville, New York, population 6,000.

"We started out in Sunday school together at age 3, and Dick's mother was the teacher," Judith Reuning said.

Her future husband's mother, however, found little Judith Brandes to be just a little too talkative, and they weren't allowed to date until after graduating from high school.

The Reunings are longtime members of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Clintonville, having joined after Richard Reuning took a job at Ohio State University's College of Pharmacy, where he worked for 30 years -- 16 as department chairman -- until retiring in June 1999.

Judith Reuning, now retired from a career as a math teacher, was 8 1/2 months pregnant and far away from any family when they joined the church.

"The people at Gethsemane were super-friendly," Judith recalled. "They took care of us."

The couple professes their faith by more than just attending services at Gethsemane Lutheran.

They also are partners in LifeCrossings LLC, an ecumenical publishing company. The Reunings established LifeCrossings in 2000 as a way to "dig deeper into the Lutheran life we've been following," Richard Reuning said.

In setting up the publishing operation, he added, they created an advisory board of local pastors and theologians at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley.

"That led us to deeper levels of theology ... and what it means to lead a Christian life," Richard Reuning said.

LifeCrossings so far has published five study guides, beginning in 2002 with "From Here to Community."

Walter R. Bouman, professor emeritus of systematic theology at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, provided the introduction to that book.

"It is designed to be a resource for moving individuals and congregations from being 'a gathering of strangers' to being a community," Bouman wrote.

"The authors, Dick and Judy Reuning, have created a course with a companion leader's guide that enables participants to grasp the vision and to take concrete positive steps towards its realization."

Other volumes in the ongoing LifeCrossings series include "Autumn of Christian Life" and "Winter of Christian Life" in 2006, "Summer of Christian Life" in 2010 and "Spring of Christian Life" also in 2010. For that book, the Reunings' daughter, Julie Reuning-Scherer, a Lutheran minister in Hartford, Connecticut, joined mom and dad as an author.

"These are all discussion books," Judith Reuning said. "There's no leading. Lots of them have stories in them."

" ... Of real people trying to live out their Christian lives," her husband said.

For more information, visit www.lifecrossings.com.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1