Bishop: Woyen resigned as Lutheran pastor after sexual battery allegations surfaced

The Times Reporter [New Philadelphia OH]

April 30, 2021

By Nancy Molnar

A Minnesota man accused of sexual battery who formerly served as a Lutheran minister has resigned as a pastor, according to the Rev. Laura L. H. Barbins, bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, based in Cuyahoga Falls.

Steven P. Woyen, 46, is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor who attended or was a member of First Lutheran Church of Strasburg when he was its pastor. The Tuscarawas County Grand Jury indicted him on three counts of sexual battery that allegedly occurred between 2008 and 2011. 

“We became aware of allegations that former pastor Steven Woyen was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor while he was a pastor at First Lutheran Church in Strasburg,” Barbins wrote in an email to The Times-Reporter. “His bishop reported those allegations to the appropriate authorities here in Ohio and I and his bishop have cooperated fully with law enforcement.

“Mr. Woyen resigned immediately after the allegations surfaced and is no longer a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The ELCA does not tolerate sexual misconduct or abuse.

“We ask for prayers for all of those involved,” Barbins wrote. 

Woyen most recently worked as the pastor for Good Hope Parish, a four-church parish in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

WOYEN - Courtesy Of Tuscarawas County Jail
WOYEN – Courtesy Of Tuscarawas County Jail

Woyen left Strasburg’s First Lutheran in 2011 to work at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Minerva, according to an article from The Alliance Review. The story said Woyen had been at First Lutheran for more than five years. He served as a church musician in North Dakota, Minnesota and Ohio before becoming a pastor, the article said.

Woyen also worked in Columbus, Ohio, according to a profile published in the Faribault County Register of Blue Earth, Minn. 

The church office in Cuyahoga Falls no longer has Woyen’s file because he left its territory some years ago, according to the bishop.

Barbins wrote that anyone with information regarding misconduct by rostered ministers of the ELCA should contact the synod office at (330) 929-9022; anyone with information of abuse of children should contact Ohio Job and Family Services (

Woyen, who most recently lived in Albert Lea, Minn. has been in the Tuscarawas County jail since Wednesday.

Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or

On Twitter: @nmolnarTR