Feast of Albert George Butzer (November 28)   7 comments

Above:  Westminster Presbyterian Church, Buffalo, New York

Image in the Public Domain

Photographer = Fortunate4now

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ALBERT GEORGE BUTZER, SR. (JULY 19, 1893-NOVEMBER 28, 1967)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Educator

The Reverend Doctor Albert George Butzer, Sr., comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume II (1953), for which he wrote the profound and sometimes humorous exposition on the Book of Hebrews.

What strange names are listed in this passage!  Elizur the son of Shedeur, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, etc.  These names and others are all Greek to us, or more precisely, Hebrew.  The Exeg. reminds us, however, that almost every one of these names in the Hebrew embodies some reference to God….Though the name of God may not be in our names, we can make our names stand for God.

–143-144, 147

At the height of church attendance in the United States, Butzer wrote:

Is it not one of our deepest needs to put the church back again at the center of the community’s life?  But it will avail little to do that unless the church itself puts God at the center of its own life, unless the church will be again be the church, the tent of meeting, “the Dwelling of the Presence” (1:30 Moffatt), the one place where men can be sure to meet God, not only the God of Israel but “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 11:31).

–149, 152

One wonders what he would write in the age during which “none” is the fastest-growing religious affiliation, atheism and antitheism are chic, and many people claim to be “spiritual but not religious” without any hint of irony.

Butzer, a child of Louis Butzer and Minnie Betz Butzer, became a great minister.  He entered the world in Buffalo, New York, on July 19, 1893.  Our saint graduated from Northwestern College, Napierville, Illinois, in 1915, then matriculated at the Evangelical Theological Seminary, Napierville, that year.  He studied at the seminary until 1917.  In 1918 and 1919 Butzer was a chaplain in the U.S. Army.  After the war, he attended Union Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 1920.  In subsequent years our saint received two Doctor of Divinity degrees (from Middlebury College and Hamilton College) and a Doctor of Laws degree (from McMaster University).

Butzer was a Presbyterian minister.  He served first in the old Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (-1958) then in its immediate successor, The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  During the fundamentalist-modernist controversy in the PCUSA in the 1920s, our saint sided with the modernists.  He served as pastor of just two congregations in forty-one years of active ministry.  The first congregation was West Side Presbyterian Church, Ridgewood, New Jersey, from 1921 to 1932.  The other congregation was Westminster Presbyterian Church, Buffalo New York, from 1932 to 1962, when he retired.  At Westminster Butzer made sure the church had new stained glass windows and fine organ music.

Consistent with what he wrote in 1953, Butzer was active in the community.  He taught at two local private schools–Buffalo Seminary and the Nichols School.  He also sat on the Buffalo City Planning Board and the Executive Committee of the Community Chest of Buffalo.

Butzer was also a family man.  On September 6, 1921, the young Presbyterian minister married Katharine Coe.  The couple had three children:

  1. Albert Butzer, Jr.;
  2. Clayton Coe Butzer; and
  3. Marjorie Betty Butzer.

Our saint, 74 years old, died in Buffalo on November 28, 1967.

Much of the sacredness of life is evident in its mundane details.  Consider, O reader, the importance of teaching students, counseling parishioners, raising a family, tending to a marriage, maintaining the quality of church music, and building up one’s community.  God is present in the details.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ARMITAGE ROBINSON, ANGLICAN DEAN, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSA VENERINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE VENERINI SISTERS; MENTOR OF SAINT LUCIA FILIPPINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS FILIPPINI

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Albert George Butzer, Sr.,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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7 responses to “Feast of Albert George Butzer (November 28)

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  1. Yes, what would he say today when only about 20 per cent of the population attends church services? He would be shocked at the decline in American society. He would watch the news and would be weeping for the immorality and the violence in our culture today…and people wonder why!

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