CR Inside Newsletter

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Ontario's Change From the Inside Out

Andrea Lutz isn’t spending her time in prison simply counting the hours until she can go home. Since coming to Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener 18 months ago, Lutz has embraced a bundle of Christian programs that are available to inmates.

In addition to taking two Bible study courses by correspondence Lutz, 27, has enrolled in Alpha courses in Christianity, has been working for the institution’s fulltime chaplain, and attends Saturday evening prayer meetings and Sunday evening worship services. She plans to preach her first sermon this weekend. Yet she has made her prayer-packed schedule even busier by signing up for a 12-step Christian program called Celebrate Recovery Inside. It’s a program inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous, but based on the Beatitudes Jesus professed in his Sermon on the Mount (The Gospel of Matthew 5).

Lutz said she is serving a 10-year sentence for manslaughter after turning herself in to police and pleading guilty to killing the man who sold her cocaine in 2007. An articulate woman with pale blue-green eyes and a soft face, Lutz was baptized at the Kitchener prison last year. But Celebrate Recovery Inside, available at Grand Valley Institution for the first time this year, is helping her work through her personal battles. “It’s getting me ready to be able to offer the help and the support that somebody else will need in the future,” Lutz said. “If I don’t deal with my stuff, then I’m not going to be any good to anybody else. ”

The program, run by community volunteers, is an adapted version of Celebrate Recovery ministries which are run at churches across North America. Lutz is scheduled to speak tonight at Grandview Baptist Church in Kitchener. The event is intended to raise money for, and spread awareness of, a volunteer effort to establish a halfway house for women in Waterloo Region. Lutz will share the lectern with Ashley Smith Robinson, the woman who was taken hostage in 2005 by a man who killed four people during a shooting spree in a courthouse in Atlanta, Ga. Smith Robinson talked her captor into turning himself in to police by reading to him from the bestselling spirituality book The Purpose Driven Life written by American mega-church pastor Rick Warren. Smith Robinson is in Waterloo Region this week to help raise funds for the halfway house and to promote Celebrate Recovery.

Andrea Lutz, a Grand Valley inmate, is in Celebrate Recovery Inside.