“I loved my religious tradition,” Luti says. “I still do. I’m not a recovering Catholic. There were reasons why I felt I needed to leave, but I didn’t take flight.” Luti traces her call to spiritual leadership in the Christian church to childhood, when she loved going to summer camp. “I was madly in love with my camp counselors, and several of them were very devout Catholic Christians who made the decision to enter the convent,” she says. “I don’t think I knew it was influencing me at the time, but . . . those conversations really impressed themselves on my heart and soul: that there were people, these women, who felt called to give themselves over to the kind of service that would anchor their lives forever among the people of the church.” Joining the United Church of Christ, though, was not a given. Luti admits she might have easily become
Then she checks and triages email. The rest of her day fills with “typical” pastoral work: staff meetings, visits from leaders or members, a trip to a nearby retirement facility, some worship planning, a bit of sermon writing, or an evening meeting. Except that there is no “typical” day in pastoral ministry, which is what Luti says makes it so wonderful and frustrating at the same time. Plans to work on a big project for next year go overboard when a call in the middle of the day brings news that someone’s parent has died. “Parish ministry has really taught me the truth of the old cliché that the interruptions are the job,” she says. “That is the ministry. Your work is not being interrupted; that is your work. You plan and plan and plan, but they’re all up for grabs.” Luti returned to Andover Newton in 2008 as a visiting professor and director of the Wilson Chapel for four years, and she still
“If the United Church of Christ has people like this in it, I thought, then there’s no reason I cannot join this.” Episcopalian. (She is married to an Episcopalian priest, after all. They’ve been together for 33 years.) “I could shop around historically with the best of them and analyze traditions,” she says. But it was the life and witness of several of her colleagues at Andover Newton, and her affinity with their vision and hope for the church, that tipped the balance for Luti. “If the United Church of Christ has people like this in it, I thought, then there’s no reason I cannot join this.” A self-described “morning person,” Luti often arrives these days at her office at the Village Church before anyone else to spend the first 15-20 minutes leafing through the parish directory to pray for members of the congregation. She purposefully leaves her shutters open so she can next pray for the commuters who cut through the church property on their way to a nearby rail station to catch the train that takes them to Boston.
occasionally teaches a class there. She also takes great joy in interfaith relationships, and the Daughters of Abraham groups of Muslim, Jewish and Christian women with whom she meets and shares pilgrimages to places important to those three traditions. After this interim at Wellesley, Luti promises she will really, finally retire from full-time work. She cannot stop teaching, though, unless she also stops writing. Through online devotionals, sermon blogging, and social media, Luti has discovered another classroom of sorts in which she can find herself in lengthy, deep and thoughtful exchanges. “Someone [online] once said, ‘Thank you for continuing to teach us,’” she remembers. “And I never thought of it that way, but of course, I’m a teacher. I’m going to be teaching . . . . I’ve spent my whole life learning about these things that I love and I want to share what I love.”