Archive for the ‘Betty More Allaban Buttrick’ Tag

Feast of George A. Buttrick and David G. Buttrick (January 24)   Leave a comment

Above:  Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE ARTHUR BUTTRICK (MARCH 23, 1892-JANUARY 23, 1980)

Anglo-American Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

father of

DAVID GARDNER BUTTRICK (MAY 21, 1927-APRIL 22, 2017)

U.S. Presbyterian then United Church of Christ Minister, Theologian, and Liturgist

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Prayer is not a substitute for work, thinking, watching, suffering, or giving; prayer is a support for all other efforts.

–George Arthur Buttrick

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Preaching must accept the challenge to reach the hearts and minds of people and regain the luster it has lost in the last several decades.

–David Gardner Buttrick, 1996

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INTRODUCTION

The Buttricks come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible and The New Interpreter’s Bible.

George Arthur Buttrick was deeply involved in The Interpreter’s Bible.  He served as the Commentary Editor for the twelve-volume set.  He also wrote one of the General Articles, “The Study of the Bible,” in Volume I (1952).  Furthermore, Buttrick wrote the exposition on Matthew (Volume VII, 1951), Luke 13-18 (Volume VIII, 1952), and Philemon (Volume XI, 1955).

David Gardner Buttrick wrote an article, “The Use of the Bible in Preaching,” for Volume I (1994) of The New Interpreter’s Bible.

George Arthur Buttrick and David Gardner Buttrick, father and son, were renowned preachers, professors, and theologians.

GEORGE ARTHUR BUTTRICK

George Arthur Buttrick, born in Seaham, England, on March 23, 1892, became one of the most influential preachers in the United States.  He studied at Victoria University of Manchester and married Agnes Gardner (1893-1990) before immigrating to the United States.  Buttrick became a minister in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.  He was a pastor in Quincy, Illinois; and Rutland, Vermont; before becoming pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Buffalo, New York.  He succeeded Henry Sloane Coffin (1877-1954) at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, New York, in 1927, and served until 1954.  In New York City, on May 21, 1927, the Buttricks welcomed their youngest son, David Gardner Buttrick.

George had a strong social compass and a good moral compass.  He, a pacifist and a supporter of civil rights, was the Preacher to the University and the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University from 1954 to 1960.  He also taught at the following:

  1. Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York;
  2. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois;
  3. Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina;
  4. Vanderbilt Divinity School, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee; and
  5. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

He died, aged 87 years, in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 23, 1980.

DAVID GARDNER BUTTRICK

David Gardner Buttrick was a chip off the old block.  He, a graduate of Haverford College (B.A., 1948), Union Theological Seminary (1951), Garrett Biblical Institute, and Northwestern University, earned degrees in theology, poetry, and contemporary literature.  He married Betty More Allaban (d. 2015) in 1950.

Buttrick was a Presbyterian minister from 1951 to 1993.  He was a clergyman of, in order, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1951-1958), The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (1958-1983), and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (1983-1993).  Our saint, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Fredonia, New York (1951-1960), served on the denominational Board of Christian Education (1960-1961) then taught at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (1961-1975).  Buttrick resigned from the faculty in protest after the seminary, in financial difficulty, laid off much of the staff and gave raises to professors.  While at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, our saint contributed to The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services and Lectionary for the Christian Year (1966).  He was also the main author of The Worshipbook–Services (1970), incorporated into The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972).

Buttrick, author of 19 books and many articles, continued teaching after leaving Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  He was the Marten Professor of Homiletics at the St. Meinrad School of Theology (1975-1982), St. Meinrad, Indiana.  Our saint moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1982.  There he led an interdisciplinary initiative of the Vanderbilt Divinity School and the Graduate School of Religion.  The program combined liturgy, preaching, and other disciplines.

Buttrick, who did not shy away from a moral confrontation, resigned from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1993.  The PC(USA), he said, needed to be bolder.  It needed to be more welcoming and affirming of diversity and to support civil rights for all people, he insisted.  Our saint joined the United Church of Christ.

Buttrick, aged 89 years, died in Nashville, Tennessee, on April 22, 2017.

EARLY CONTEMPORARY LITURGY

My only critical comments come from an Episcopalian perspective on liturgy.

The late 1960s and early 1970s were an awkward time for Christian liturgy in the United States.  Modern English was taking over from archaic English in many denominations.  Nearly all of the volumes from the first wave of modern English-language liturgy became dated quickly.

The Worshipbook (1970 and 1972) is a product of its time, much like its contemporary, Leonard Bernstein‘s MASS (1971).  The Worshipbook (1970) is an advance in Presbyterian liturgy, but it pales in comparison to its immediate successor, The Book of Common Worship (1993).  The placement of Holy Communion as the central act of worship is proper, but the rites for daily Morning Prayer and Morning Prayer in The Worshipbook are inadequate, especially compared to their counterparts from The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  The passage of time is unkind to The Worshipbook.

CONCLUSION

Both Buttricks were men of great faith and profound moral courage.

That is their primary legacy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2019 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND REFORMER OF THE CALENDAR

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, CHEYENNE WARRIOR, CHIEF, AND HOLY MAN, AND EPISCOPAL DEACON AND MISSIONARY IN OKLAHOMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS MAURIAC, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST, CHRISTIAN HUMANIST, AND SOCIAL CRITIC

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servants George Arthur Buttrick and David Gardner Buttrick,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 600

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