Brossman Center Conference Room dedicated in honor of Dr. Addie J. Butler for many years of church service

< From the PresidentPS Portions home page | Dr. Wengert's Final Lecture >

Dr. Addie ButlerDr. Addie J. Butler hopes that the dedication in her honor of a conference room at the seminary will inspire students to lead significant lives of service in the church. 

“When they think of me, I hope they will think of what is possible in their lives as disciples of Jesus,” said Butler, whom seminary President Philip D.W. Krey described as “a long-time great friend and donor to LTSP.” Room 217, the conference room across the hall from the Kaufmann Enrollment Services offices in The Brossman Learning Center, was dedicated in Butler’s honor Saturday, December 14.

Butler said the idea of a seminary room in her honor was first suggested about 10 years ago by her then pastor at Reformation Lutheran Church, the Rev. Gordon Simmons, an LTSP alumnus, who spoke at the dedication. At the time, Butler had just completed six years of service as vice president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Since that time, financial donations to make the room possible have been gathered from Simmons, members of Reformation (where Butler is currently council president), and members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the African Descent Lutheran Association (ADLA), formerly the African American Lutheran Association. The name was changed in order to welcome members of direct African heritage into the organization.

Butler’s resume of service is a challenge to summarize. In addition to serving six years as vice president of the ELCA (1997-2003), Butler recently concluded 16 years of service on the LTSP board of trustees, six as its president. (She also served as assistant secretary.) From 1999 to 2013, she was a member of the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans board, helping to see the organization through a merger. She’s served three times as president of the ADLA and coordinated a number of its programs. Butler served two terms as vice president of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA, and from 2009 to 2012 was part of the board of Good Shepherd Home and Rehabilitation Center, Allentown, PA.

Asked why she has taken on so many voluntary responsibilities, Butler cited scripture from Luke 12:48: “to whom much has been given, much is required …” But she said she is now learning to “slow down.”

Dr. Addie ButlerShe retired in 2007 from the post of assistant to the vice president for academic affairs at the Community College of Philadelphia, where she worked for 28 years. For three years prior to that, she was program director for the YMCA of Germantown. Butler earned a Doctorate in Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1976. She holds a Master of Science from Pennsylvania State University, and did her undergraduate study at Howard University.

Butler’s early years were part of Faith Baptist Church, 29th and York Streets, Philadelphia, a National Baptist congregation, where she was baptized in 1954 and enjoyed Sunday School. She recalls delivering memorized orations in the congregation for Christmas and Easter — “preparation as a child for things I would be doing as I got older.” Later, she enjoyed youth activities at Memorial Church in Germantown, where she recalls bowling and roller skating activities with a boyfriend.

How did she connect with the Lutheran Church? “I studied at Howard University during a period of civil unrest (1964-68) and met a group of community workers from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Washington, DC, who were working to keep a lid on things,” she recalled. “I was impressed with them and their work. I had always thought of church as something done indoors, and these people were out on the street. I decided to get involved with Our Redeemer.” The Lutheran connection stuck the rest of her life. She connected with LTSP between the period when she served as synodical vice president and the time she began as ELCA vice president. “Bob Blanck, who served more than 30 years as LTSP board chair, invited me,” she recalled.

President Krey, Addie Butler, Dean SebastianAsked to express highlights from her years of service, Butler said she has many. She especially appreciated the chance to address Women of the ELCA groups when she was synodical vice president and vice president of the ELCA. “I had the chance to express my love for Jesus in a very personal way, and was surprised about how well that was received. That is what we are supposed to do!” Butler said.

She also appreciated the chance to serve as an African American in a position of leadership in both the synod and national church and what her visibility meant to others. “When people would see me up there — African American people — they felt encouraged and could see what is possible for them,” she said.

She hopes the plaque on the new Butler Conference Room will likewise inspire LTSP students and other visitors for many years to come.

View a slide show from the dedication

click any image to go to the photo gallery

What do you think? Join the discussion - click Add new comment...