The Very Rev. Paul T. Lutov, 78, retired associate pastor of the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, died of cancer Friday at Providence Hospital.

Shortly after he came to Washington in 1938, he was ordained to the priesthood by Metropolitan Theofilus, private of what was then the Russian Orthodox Church of North America and is now the Orthodox Church in America.

Father Lutov then was appointed pastor of the growing parish of St. Nicholas. During this period, a building fund was started. Eventually the new Russian Orthodox Church of St. Micheal was constructed at 3500 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

It is also known as the National War Memorial Shrine honoring the victims of the Bolshevik Revolution and all persons of the Russian Orthodox faith who lost their lives in the military service of this country in the world wars.

Father Lutov was born in Russia to a family of Cossacks. He studied agricultural engineering at the University of Yekaterinodar in Russia and graduated from the University of Prague in Czechoslovakia.

He travelled with the Russian Student Christian Movement, graduated from St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Seminary in Paris and took a degree at Oxford University. He was ordained a deacon in the St. Alexander Nevsky Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Paris.

After lecturing at St. Sergius Academy, Father Lutov came here in 1938 as a visiting professor in Old Testament at the Howard University School of Religion. He taught there for four years.

While serving as pastor of St. Nicholas, Father Lutov earned a master's degree in Semitic philology at Catholic University. In 1947, at the request of the Tolstoy Foundation, he went to Europe to assist Russian Orthodox refugees displaced after World War II. He worked for the World Church Service and the World Council of Churches.

Returning here in 1948, he became assistant pastor of St. Nicholas. He retired as associate pastor in 1977 but continued to assist with religious services. In addition to his pastoral duties, he acted as a spiritual adviser to various organizations and wrote for a number of religious journals.

Father Lutov also was a senior research analyst at the Library or Congress for 16 years, retiring in 1964. He had served as a consultant on Alaska affairs to the Interior Department.

He is survived by his wife, Jeanne Olga, of the home in Washington: a daughter, Natasha Lutov, of New York City, and a son, Paul, of Washington.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the Rev. Paul T. Lutov Memorial Fund at the Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas.