Karen Dutton Receives LEA Award

Karen Dutton was selected to receive Lutheran Education Association’s 2023 Distinguished Parish Educator Award.

Karen Dutton Photo current2A 36-year veteran in parish education, Karen is the ministry coordinator at St. John Lutheran Church, Garfield Heights, Ohio, and the LCMS Ohio district youth ministry coordinator. Karen earned a B.A. in elementary education (youth ministry concentration) from Concordia University Chicago.

Regarding Karen’s greatest joy, she said, “A great joy is when a person, especially a young person, seems to grasp that having a relationship with Jesus, their Savior, is very special. They ‘open up’ and start asking questions as well as making statements about what they have learned from the Bible and discussions. When one that didn’t know Jesus or at least didn’t understand very much about the promises of the Bible and asks to be baptized, this is great!”

Regarding challenges, she says, “The challenge for me is to have others share in the joy and commitment of telling about Jesus. To have the support of people willing to share in the successes of meeting others in their faith walk or their daily needs would be awesome. There seems to be a lot of apathy, which is a huge challenge not just for me but in the church.”

Supporting Karen’s nomination, her district president said, “I am impressed with how Ms. Dutton uses the full range of educator skills at St. John’s, Garfield Heights. Ms. Dutton has always strived not just to teach confirmation but ensure that her instruction fits with the culture and background of her students. In fact, Ms. Dutton is in demand to teach confirmation beyond St. John’s, Garfield Heights. When changes in the community impacted Sunday school, Ms. Dutton pivoted and created “His Kidz” Meeting on Monday evening, His Kidz not only met the need for Sunday School, but also increased enrollment.”

One parent commented, “My cousin introduced me to Ms. Dutton in 2004, and my love and faith grew immensely. From youth group meetings every month to senior high gatherings and from Lifefest to the National Lutheran Gatherings, Ms. Dutton has shown me her love and passion for God. One of the best parts I remember was having a devotion and prayer every night before we went to sleep.”

Karen’s personal mission statement is, “To know Jesus, grow in faith and share His love with others as I ask the Holy Spirit to help me stay connected and committed to my call as a child of God.”


Denise Rice
Lutheran Education Association
7400 Augusta Street
River Forest, IL 60305
708.209.3453 Fax 708.209.3458
www.lea.org denise.rice@lea.org lea@lea.org