Helen Lutton Cohen, Minister Emerita of the First Parish in Lexington, MA, grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, where her family was active in the First Unitarian Congregational Church. She attended Sunday School there and was presented her graduation certificate by Sophia Lyons Fahs, the national director of Religious Education for the American Universalist Association. She taught Sunday School, and participated in the youth group and in the Ohio Valley Federation of Liberal Religious Youth. The Rev. Dr. Cohen graduated from Swarthmore College, and received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Old English Language and Literature. She taught in the English Department of Yale University from 1968 to 1970, where she met and married Don Cohen. She and Don taught at Brock University in St. Catharine’s Ontario through the early 70’s, and their daughters, Rebecca and Sarah, were born there. After leaving teaching, she became active in the St. Catharine’s Church of the Unitarian Fellowship.
Helen attended Harvard Divinity School from 1977-80, and was called to the First Parish in Lexington, Massachusetts, where she served from 1980 to 2002, and was named MInister Emerita by the congregation upon her retirement. The congregation published a book of her sermons, Believing in Evolution, in 1994. Her denominational activities include co-writing The Sabbatical Handbook with the Rev. David Pohl, serving on the UU Minister’s Association committee that created CENTER and on CENTER in its first years, presenting a paper on women in ministry at the 1999 Professional Days, serving as minister-in-residence at Meadville/Lombard Theological School in winter 2000, and volunteering at the UU Urban Ministry in Boston.
Since retirement, Helen was on the Lexington School Committee from 2003-2009 and Town Meeting from 2003-2012, and is on the Board of the UU Society for Ministerial Relief. She studies watercolor painting, and enjoys gardening. Her husband Don is a writer and editor, and has written short stories and plays. Their daughter Rebecca Benner (married to Derek) is a UU minister, who served the Accotink UU Church of Burke Virginia for seven years before “retiring” to raise three sons. Their daughter Sarah Loomis (married to Chris) works with horses in North Conway, New Hampshire.