Marking a historical milestone, on Sunday, June 8, the congregation of The Riverside Church called the Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, “Pastor Amy,” as the seventh senior minister of the historic Church—making her the first woman to lead the church in its 87-year history. Pastor Amy currently serves as senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. and will begin at The Riverside Church in mid-September.
In a letter to the congregation following the vote, Pastor Amy wrote: “As we seek to witness community, love, forgiveness, compassion, understanding, tolerance, peace, and God’s joy to a watching world, we must build and continue to grow those things within our own community. I believe that we’re ready to take this risk together. And when we do, it is exactly then that the work of the church begins. The acts of love and reconciliation that we will share together in gospel community have the power to transform not only our individual lives, but our city and our world.”
Pastor Amy received the ceremonial passing of the keys to the church from Senior Minister Emeritus Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. Rev. Forbes said, “My nearly twenty years as senior minister of The Riverside Church have given me a deep and abiding love for this congregation and this place. I believe strongly in the work God is doing here and that is why I am so excited about the selection of Rev. Butler as The Riverside Church’s seventh senior minister. I await her leadership with eagerness and confidence that Riverside is on the threshold of vibrant and exciting ministry in the days ahead.”
During Pastor Amy’s transition from Calvary Baptist to The Riverside Church, Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry will remain as the minister in charge of the transitional period. “Reverend Amy Butler is an outstanding preacher, a compassionate pastor and a visionary leader. We of Riverside are looking forward to her coming among us with great expectation. She is the leader we need for the days that lie ahead,” said Sherry.
Len Leach, the head of the Riverside Church Council, announced the results of the congregational vote and was the first to officially welcome Pastor Amy as The Riverside Church’s new senior minister. “Psalm 30:5 says, ‘weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning,’” said Leach. “Riversiders’ faith has been tested over the past five years while we endure moments of transition. But the calling of Rev. Dr. Amy Butler has brought that joy of morning and an opportunity for us to join as a community in service to God!!”
“I am thankful to the Congregation and the Senior Minister Search Committee for its dedication and commitment during our two-year search. I also want to thank the Riverside staff for holding steadfast through many transitional changes. Finally, on behalf of the entire congregation, I say thank you to Rev. Bob Coleman, Rev. Stephen Phelps, Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry and Rev. Dr. James Forbes. These Reverends provided exceptional pastoral leadership from the pulpit to the pews,” Leach added.
To read all of Pastor Amy’s letter to the congregation, visit: http://www.trcnyc.org/news/article.php?id=512.
Here’s a video link to Rev. Butler speaking at the service is at http://www.ezstream.com/play/index.cfm?fuseaction=embstay&dsplvl=brd&id=451F960076&Org=EZ. Her sermon begins at 59:30.