Reverend Lauren Bennett leads the Metropolitan Community Church in St. Louis, which primarily serves the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Ministering to people in their final hours is an expected part of her role as pastor, but in 2023 she became only the second person in Missouri to do so in an execution room. 

Lauren Bennett and Gerry Kleba at the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis in St. Louis, MO on January 28, 2024. Photo by Shelle Veres.

When Father Gerry Kleba received the same assignment, he turned to Bennett for advice. 

Despite their differences, the two spiritual advisors formed a close bond. 

They came to StoryCorps’ Mobile Booth in St. Louis to talk about their shared experience of finding love in unlikely places.

Top Photo: Gerry Kleba and Lauren Bennett at their StoryCorps interview in St. Louis, MO on October 2, 2023. By Franchesca Peña for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired on March 29, 2024 on NPR’s Morning Edition.