Janet Lutz (GTS 1969) grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the Methodist Church played an important part in her life. She attended church every Sunday with her family, was active in MYF, and attended church camp in junior and senior high. She was also active on the district and conference levels of the Wisconsin Annual Conference.
When she graduated from high school in 1961, opportunities for women seemed limited to being a nurse, teacher, secretary, or maybe a missionary. No one suggested other options, so Janet went to college and got a degree in elementary education. After one year of teaching, she knew it was not for her. That summer she worked at a church camp. One night one of the other counselors asked her if she had ever considered going to seminary. It was as if a light had broken through the haze. She suddenly knew that was what she wanted to do. The other counselor gave Janet the address and phone number for Garrett Theological Seminary (GTS).
Janet went home and told her parents she wanted to go to seminary. Her mother told her she had been praying that Janet would wind up doing something in the church, but had never said anything because she felt Janet had to come to that decision on her own. Neither Janet nor her mother was aware that a woman could be ordained.
“Going to Garrett was the best decision of my life,” Janet states. She originally planned to get a degree in Christian education, but after her first semester she knew she needed more theology and Biblical studies than was offered in that program, so she transferred into what was then the B.D. (today the M.Div.) program. For the first time I encountered women who had been ordained, and I began to think about ordination as well.”
When Janet graduated from Garrett, she was not sure what she wanted to do, so she taught third grade in Winnetka, Illinois for four years. At the end of the fourth year she began to think about ministry again. She quit her teaching job and took Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Children’s Memorial Hospital—kids and ministry—as a way to get back into thinking about and doing ministry. “I was there less than a week when I felt truly called to hospital ministry,” Janet exclaims.
In those days, however, it was not possible to be ordained without serving a church. Janet was appointed to Worth United Methodist Church and served for three years. “I knew I wanted to be a hospital chaplain, but the church taught me about ministry and its day-to-dayness.
At the end of three years, Janet went to the University of Chicago Hospital to do a residency in CPE. In 1990, Janet was invited to become the Director of Staff Support and CPE Supervisor at the Emory Center for Pastoral Services in Atlanta, Georgia. For the next 16 years, she served in that capacity.
In 2006, Janet retired and moved back to Evanston. Even in retirement Janet continues to be in ministry. In 2007, she supervised a unit of CPE at Africa University in Zimbabwe. These days she works with a group of lay visitors in the church she attends, does some work for CPE, and enjoys being closer to family and a wonderful group of women friends.
Adapted, Aware Magazine, 2014
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.