By France Griggs Sloat
Master of Business Administration, 2003
Associate pastor, Epiphany Lutheran Church
California Dreaming | Cutter planned on being an engineer and was able to put her industrial engineering degree to good use working as an operations manager for GE Aviation in Cincinnati. GE sent her to Santa Barbara, Cal., for six months to improve the completion processes of a company that finished the interiors of private jets.
The One Percenters | “It was the height of opulence out there. We (GE) had purchased an aviation company, and I was to help improve the planes being finished. They would come to us without their interiors. Some of them would have elaborate living rooms or conference rooms and playrooms for the kids. It was a very high-end market of jets, mostly corporate. Very nice, but it was ridiculous.”
Continuing Ed | She took advantage of Xavier’s MBA program on- site at GE. Although she was laid off in the months after Sept. 11, 2001, Xavier went to bat for her and other laid-off Xavier students, and she was allowed to stay in the on-site program. The degree helped her understand finance and business management.
Go Krogering | While studying for her MBA, Cutter took a full-time job at Kroger where she experienced the business side of corporate decision-making. When the company was discussing possibly closing some rural stores, she found herself worrying about the families who would be hurt if they lost their stores.
Profit Sharing | “It triggered something in me. I can look at numbers and sit in a boardroom and talk about money and ROI, but I wasn’t satisfied with just money. I wanted to have a greater impact on quality of life, and I realized I was more concerned for the people who needed the food rather than making a profit.”
Change Of Plans | On her pastor’s advice, she enrolled at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S.C., which she says is “damn hot.” She thinks her business background and education helped her to stand out from among the other pastoral candidates because she “brings a different skills set to the table.”
Coming Home | Cutter was assigned to her home parish in 2008 and arrived just as the church was coming apart administratively and ideologically. “Our attendance was about 2,500, but we split a year and a half ago and lost a significant portion of the congregation.” And several administrators, including two full-time pastors.
Flying Solo | Now Cutter is the only full-time pastor at Epiphany Lutheran—for the time being. Her focus is to rebuild the church structure and administration that unraveled after a 2009 decision by the national body to allow homosexuals to be ordained.
Break-Away | “The split was not over the homosexual issue. It was that our administration was in shambles. There was no structure to facilitate a healthy dialogue over this issue, and so it became polarizing.” About 500 members went with the break-away group."
Up To The Challenge | “It’s been exceptionally difficult, but I have the background for it. I have taken what I learned from Xavier and translated it into what makes a healthy church, and that is the focus—getting our vision straight and using the tools and resources we have that are conducive to teaching God’s word.”
Multitasker | In addition to handling the administrative duties for two church locations, she also leads up to five services a week. She writes one sermon and delivers it at each service. She gets her topics from the newspapers, but her inspiration is purely Biblical.