Upon Dr. Proctor’s retirement in June 1989, Abyssinian called as its next pastor, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III. By then well seasoned in nurturing the spiritual growth of the membership, and a highly skilled administrator, Reverend Butts’ sincere commitment to enhancing the Kingdom of God on earth was evidenced in a loyal attention to the daily activities and services of the Abyssinian congregation. His ministry has had a pervasive impact on the church, and in community development initiatives including homelessness, senior citizen and youth empowerment, cultural awareness and ecumenical outreach.
During Reverend Butts’ pastorate, several projects were launched and completed, primarily the establishment of Abyssinian Development Corporation, a comprehensive, community-based not for profit organization responsible for over $600 million in housing and commercial development in Harlem, and the $10 million renovation of the Abyssinian church façade and sanctuary. Also, as Chairman of Abyssinian Development Corporation, Dr. Butts was instrumental in establishing Thurgood Marshall Academies – public, state-of-the-art, lower, intermediate and high schools in Harlem.
Under his spiritual leadership, Abyssinian continues a long tradition of community advocacy and empowerment with a mission to “win more souls for Christ through evangelism, pastoral care, Christian education, social service delivery, and community development.”
Throughout his ministerial career, Dr. Butts has been very active in the struggle to eliminate racial discrimination and generate positive images and messages representative of the African-American community. He led an effective, nationally acclaimed campaign to eliminate negative billboard advertising in Central Harlem and greater New York City communities, and was joined in this effort by prominent individuals in other areas of the country who carried out similar campaigns with equal success. It was Reverend Butts’ local billboard whitewashing crusade that helped further sensitize our country to the evils of alcohol and drug abuse and exploitive advertising. Dr. Butts also waged a campaign against negative lyrics and images in the recording industry, specifically rap music, bringing national attention to the repercussions of negative messages on our youth.
Among a long list of other professional and religious avocations, Dr. Butts is President of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury; Chairman of the Board of North General Hospital in Harlem; and Chairman of National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), as well as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). He also holds board membership with the American Red Cross of Greater New York, New Visions for Public Schools, and American Baptist College in Nashville, Tennessee.
Above all, Dr. Butts is a man of God. He continues to be invited to preach in distinguished pulpits throughout the Tri-State area, the nation and the world, having boldly spread the word of God in Africa, China, Cuba, Europe, the Middle East, South America and throughout the Caribbean.
Abyssinian moves forward in faith, a church with a vision to be a vanguard for positive social change, to act decisively on behalf of its members who take seriously the Christian command of justice, peace and love, to spread the gospel, to feed the hungry, to heal the broken-hearted, to find shelter for the homeless, to clothe the naked, and to offer salvation in Jesus Christ to those who have lost hope.
The Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, Inc.
132 Odell Clark Place
New York, New York 10030
212.862.7474 Phone | 212.862.3255 Fax
Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III