The Rev. Amy K. Butler, who serves as the seventh senior minister of the historic Riverside Church in New York City and its first woman senior pastor, will be the chaplain for Week Eight at Chautauqua Institution. This will be her first visit to Chautauqua, during a week focused on “War and Its Warriors: Contemporary Voices.”
“What a theme. I don’t like to talk about things I don’t know anything about so I am going to talk about where peace begins,” she said. “Peace is nurtured or dismantled in our most intimate relationships; peace and war being at the dinner table.”
Butler’s sermon title for the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater is “Find Yourself in the Story.” She will talk about her faith journey at Vespers 5 p.m. Sunday in the Hall of Philosophy. Her sermon topics for the 9:15 a.m. morning worship services throughout the week are “To The Mat,” “Turned to Mourning,” The Sound of Silence,” “Pride and Privilege” and “Graveside.”
Prior to her work at Riverside Church, Butler served for 11 years as the first woman senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., the founding congregation of the American Baptist Churches USA.
Prior to that, she served as associate pastor at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and worked for eight years with homeless women in the city of New Orleans.
“Riverside Church has a cathedral dynamic,” she said. “It is a stop for tourist buses but it is also a loving and committed community of faith. We live in that tension. We have a legacy of social justice advocacy and speaking on issues but we constantly work to keep the understanding that we do so because of our faith, not just because we are activists.”
When she gets up in the pulpit on Sunday morning, she said, “I see a sea of people and a gold statue of Jesus in the third balcony. The theology of that is not very sound.
“I also see a lot of beautiful windows and where the pastor sits, at about 11:15 a.m. on Sunday, there is a beam of light that hits the pulpit.”
Butler received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in church history from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, her bachelor of theology from the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Rüschlikon, Switzerland, and her doctor of ministry in preaching from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.