New Perry pastor came late to ministry

A lot of people around Perry can easily recognize Perry United Methodist pastor Jack Dutton.

“They refer to me as the guy with the big dog,” Dutton said with a chuckle, noting that his Great Dane often accompanies him on his daily walks. Arriving in Perry at the beginning of July, Dutton came from Parsons where he had been pastor of Faith United Methodist. Prior to that, he was assistant pastor at Countryside Methodist in Topeka. He replaces Pastor Karen Miller, who retired.

Rev. Jack Dutton

Rev. Jack Dutton

Although Dutton finds being a pastor very fulfilling, that was not his original career goal.

“I grew up on Long Island and used to work on my uncle’s dairy farm,” he said. “I was always going to be a vet.”

That desire to be a veterinarian is what brought Dutton to Kansas as “Kansas State University was cheaper in Cornell.”

Arriving in Kansas in 1963, Dutton has made the state his home since then. And although he did become a “vet,” it was a different type than he planned.

“The Vietnam War got in the way,” Dutton explained. “I enlisted in 1968 and spent three years as a supply sergeant.”

Although he did graduate from college, it was with a major in anthropology and biological science, not a veterinarian degree. From there he spent the next 34 years in retail management as a manager of Dollar General and operations manager for Whelan’s Lumber , formerly located on 21st Street in Topeka.

“I learned a lot about people,” Dutton said. “The skills I used there have been very beneficial in a people intensive field like ministry. “I learned to understand people and their needs.”

It was in 2002 that Dutton followed up on the call to serve in the ministry and began studies at Duke Divinity School from which he graduated with a ministry degree.

With only a short time in Perry, Dutton has found that “this is a very loving congregation with a lot of people plugged in to where they’re at.” He believes that a pastor should be “the spiritual leader, the organizer, the person who encourages and helps people reach their greatest potential in what they want to do.”

Arriving in time for the church’s Vacation Bible School held in conjunction with St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Dutton was impressed with the dedication of both churches.

“We had a total of 112 children for the five day affair,” he noted. “It was made up of all ages, with the largest group being the preschoolers.” He also was pleased that people of all ages helped out so that it “was a well-oiled operation.”

Dutton has also been pleased with the attendance at worship services as the church’s two services are frequented by people of all ages: families with pre-school toddlers to grade schoolers and on up.

Since their arrival in Perry, Dutton said that he and Louvae, his wife of 44 years, have been “renewing old friendships and becoming familiar with places they used to go to” in Topeka.

When not involved with church or family activities, Dutton enjoys photography and reading.

“I used to do black and white photography, but I’m trying to get into digital,” Dutton said, adding that instead of favoring certain types of photography, he prefers to “find interesting things to photograph.”

When it comes to reading, he enjoys Tony Hillerman and Dana Stabenow mysteries, along with religious writings by Thomas a Kempis, a thirteenth century monk who wrote Imitation of Christ, and those of Carlo Carretto, author of I, Francis.

He and Louvae, who is a preschool teacher at Susannah Wesley in Topeka, have four children: Krissa, who lives in Germany with her musician husband; Jack, who is a veterinarian in Raleigh, North Carolina; Josh, a project manager for environmental clean-up in Anderson, Indiana; and Jeff, who has a degree in Slavic languages and now works at the KU library. The Duttons have five grandchildren.

After only a few weeks in Perry, Dutton said that his congregation is very gratifying.

“These are a good group of folks,” he said. “I feel very welcomed to be here.

by Carolyn Kaberline

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Posted by on Aug 27 2010. Filed under The Vindicator. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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