The acclaimed senior pastor of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church and a compelling voice in New York for three decades, The Rev. Calvin Butts, passed away on Friday, the church reported.
Butts, 73, was a well-known local figure who, over the years, had hosted notable figures like Fidel Castro, Gov. Pataki, and ex-President Clinton in his church.
As a youth minister when he first began working there in 1972, he rose to become the congregation’s senior leader and welcomed countless worshipers into the church’s historic structure on W. 138th St.
“Rev. Butts is irreplaceable and was a significant cornerstone in the Harlem community, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton.
He was a preeminent figure in academia and the church for many years. Despite the fact that we did not always agree, we remained friends for more than 40 years.
Butts was given a cancer diagnosis, according to the Rev. Conrad Tillard, senior minister at the Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church in Brooklyn, and he passed away at around one in the morning.
In a statement released early Friday, the church expressed its “deep sadness” over his demise.
The statement read, “The Butts Family & entire Abyssinian Baptist Church membership seek your prayers.”
Throughout his career, the well-known Butts obtained several honorary college degrees, including one from Addis Abeba University in Africa, and numerous accolades for his community activity.