Paul Lutter settles into St. Olaf

Published 10:05 am Friday, November 7, 2014

Pastor Paul Lutter is the new pastor of St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin. Eric Johnson/

Pastor Paul Lutter is the new pastor of St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Austin. Eric Johnson/

Paul Lutter knew he wanted to become a pastor since he was young, but he didn’t always accept his calling.

“There’s many things I suppose I could do in the world, and many that I can’t, but this is the thing that seems to make the most sense and where God keeps bringing me back,” he said.

Lutter became the senior pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church on Sept. 30, 2014. At 43-years old, he has worked as a pastor for about 11 years altogether. He worked as a Lutheran campus pastor, a parish pastor, taught religion and theology at Augsburg College, worked at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, preached at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, and taught theology at Mount Mary in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

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“The experience of working with people through their deep questions and their struggles, that was a great place for me to do that work, and doing those things is what led me back into parish ministry again,” Lutter said.

Lutter said he ran from becoming a pastor because during his elementary, middle and high school career, he worried it would make him stand out and distance him from friends and people who mattered to him at the time.

“Even at a young age I had a deep sense that being a pastor isn’t about just one part of one’s life, but about one’s whole life,” Lutter said. “I’m always a pastor.”

When he was younger, Lutter worked at a cable-access TV program, wrote for the local paper, was a DJ for a local radio station and interned with a Duluth TV station. A few unfortunate events in his life, as well as working in Lutheran campus ministry, helped push Lutter back toward being a pastor. Before coming to Austin, Lutter worked at First Lutheran Church in Litchfield, Minnesota, for about three years. He was excited to get the position in Austin.

“I was very impressed by the ministry that’s going on in the congregation already and the ministry that could go on in the future by the staff and the community,” he said. “When the congregation voted to call me at the end of July I was very glad to accept the call.”

In his position at St. Olaf, Lutter hopes to spend his first year listening to and learning about the congregation and the community, and finding more ways and different avenues the church can be involved in ministry in the future.

“I’m here to do whatever work that God calls us to do through the congregation,” he said.

He has been impressed and excited by the people of Austin, and hopes to expand the work that has been going on before he arrived. He hopes to look into ways the church might become more involved in the community, such as through Vision 2020 and other things that go on downtown.

“We’ve got work here to do but it’s good work and it’s work we’ll do together,” Lutter said.

He hopes to help people find God’s grace, and come to realize that living in and out of God’s grace means taking some things seriously, but also relaxing and trusting that God is far more gracious than people give him credit for.

“I think that for faith to be vibrant it needs to be active, and active in a way that’s not only within the walls of a church but also outside of it,” Lutter said.