Amy Butler

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Amy Butler

Postby Chris » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:00 am

I read that Amy Butler has ended her tenure at Riverside Church (NYC). Anyone know howcum?
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby William Thornton » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:33 am

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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:49 am

In recent years Riverside has not been able to keep a pastor for very long.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Dave Roberts » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:34 pm

I had heard something about two years ago about the Riverside system. The five-year renewable contract is certainly different from what most of us have experienced, but I can't help wondering if it helps or hurts the congregation. I don't always agree with Amy, but I have always been impressed with her. I had the privilege of hearing her in person while she was at Calvary in DC.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Tim Bonney » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:29 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:I had heard something about two years ago about the Riverside system. The five-year renewable contract is certainly different from what most of us have experienced, but I can't help wondering if it helps or hurts the congregation. I don't always agree with Amy, but I have always been impressed with her. I had the privilege of hearing her in person while she was at Calvary in DC.


The problem I can see with a preset contract for a Lead/Senior Pastor is that in their last year or so they could easily be perceived as a lame duck. It doesn't seem like it would help on longevity. Also ( I know Methodists are struggling with this) most studies show pastors of 7 or more years are the most effective. At 5 years you are really getting rolling and then the whole thing ends before you reach peak effectiveness.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Jul 04, 2019 6:47 am

Tim Bonney wrote:
Dave Roberts wrote:I had heard something about two years ago about the Riverside system. The five-year renewable contract is certainly different from what most of us have experienced, but I can't help wondering if it helps or hurts the congregation. I don't always agree with Amy, but I have always been impressed with her. I had the privilege of hearing her in person while she was at Calvary in DC.


The problem I can see with a preset contract for a Lead/Senior Pastor is that in their last year or so they could easily be perceived as a lame duck. It doesn't seem like it would help on longevity. Also ( I know Methodists are struggling with this) most studies show pastors of 7 or more years are the most effective. At 5 years you are really getting rolling and then the whole thing ends before you reach peak effectiveness.


The rural Baptist tradition in the South was "annual call." Of course, it has been replaced by the system which now means a pastor is usually one deacons' meeting or business meeting from being out of a job. I agree that five years is too short. Riverside has not been an extremely stable pulpit in a number of years. My prayers are for Amy as she seeks what is next in her ministry.
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Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jul 08, 2019 7:22 pm

Influential with CBF at Wilshire in Dallas had a great take on his facebook wall when this happened but I can no longer find it. If you see it somewhere, please post cause nobody in my hearing had a better take.

This could be an interesting conversation Sept 15

https://www.wilshirebc.org/about-wilshi ... niversary/
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby William Thornton » Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:15 am

https://nypost.com/2019/07/11/pastor-ou ... cusations/

NYT has the story but I can't get to it. If accurate, bit of a letdown for butler fans.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Haruo » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:47 pm

Funny, in a sad way.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Haruo » Sat Jul 13, 2019 3:22 am

I read the NYT version, which contains most of the Daily News material and also material pointing the other direction. I really don't know what to make of the sex-toy shopping expedition. I hope a cogent history of her tenure at Riverside is published before I'm too old to read it.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Tim Bonney » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:22 pm

Haruo wrote:I read the NYT version, which contains most of the Daily News material and also material pointing the other direction. I really don't know what to make of the sex-toy shopping expedition. I hope a cogent history of her tenure at Riverside is published before I'm too old to read it.


It is a strange scenario. I can't image why she would do what is described in the article. Bizarre is the only word I have for it.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby William Thornton » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:27 am

Not that Al Mohler is quotable to my mod/lib friends here, but...

Well, it says something about the trajectory of theological liberalism in the US that the Riverside Church in NYC gets from Harry Emerson Fosdick to this within a century:

From Fosdick to protester Sloan Coffin to sex toys. The story is appalling.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:24 am

William Thornton wrote:Not that Al Mohler is quotable to my mod/lib friends here, but...

Well, it says something about the trajectory of theological liberalism in the US that the Riverside Church in NYC gets from Harry Emerson Fosdick to this within a century:

From Fosdick to protester Sloan Coffin to sex toys. The story is appalling.


And it says something about the trajectory of theological fundamentalism that the SBC gets from its founders to the hundreds of sex abuse cases plaguing the denomination. Does Al really want us to compare the sexual morality of liberal clergy to SBC clergy? I'm not sure who would come out on top right now.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby William Thornton » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:20 pm

Buying sex toys is no crime and the cases of sex abuse are criminal. No comparison between the two.

Riverside Church is the pinnacle of liberal theological thought and practice. The manner in which the relationship was ended was shocking, even if sex toys is no big deal. But look for celebrity clergy to be profitable even if not anchored to any congregation.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Dave Roberts » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:07 pm

Today, it was announced that two other clergy staff members from Riverside have resigned. Don't know more than that except that they resigned in support of Butler.
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Butler at Wilshire with George Mason Sept 30

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:33 pm

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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:27 pm

William Thornton wrote:Riverside Church is the pinnacle of liberal theological thought and practice. The manner in which the relationship was ended was shocking, even if sex toys is no big deal. But look for celebrity clergy to be profitable even if not anchored to any congregation.


Well, that is the reputation. There are actually a lot of churches with progressive credentials as strong or stronger than Riverside now despite its famed history. As far as I'm aware Riverside has yet to have an LGBTQ+ lead pastor (or maybe any pastor). Many other UCC churches can already boast having done so even including churches in Iowa.

Riverside's liberal reputation is in danger of becoming more history than current fact. They come across to me as one of those older well known gentrified congregations that is living off of its history as much as its current ministry. I had heard the membership was something under 1,200* if I remember correctly what I read most recently.

*Correction, I've found that Riverside has 1,670 members. Still, not all that large. There is a UCC congregation in Des Moines with considerably more members.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:46 pm

Probably what is most annoying about Al's statement is that anytime something goes wrong in a church more progressive than the SBC he seems to find that as a way to take a dig at progressive theology and progressive churches in general rather than what is usually true, individual churches and pastors of all theological stripes screw up sometimes.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby William Thornton » Mon Jul 15, 2019 7:17 pm

The narrative keeps evolving. I actually enjoyed reading some of her stuff but this was a personal disaster. Lots of pastors get forced out but few with a severance of a half million.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Tim Bonney » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:21 pm

William Thornton wrote:The narrative keeps evolving. I actually enjoyed reading some of her stuff but this was a personal disaster. Lots of pastors get forced out but few with a severance of a half million.


Where did you come across the severance agreement figure?
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:03 am

I think it's in one of the ny post stories. Insiders went to the NYT and post to. A year's salary and housing. Pretty sweet deal but they can afford it.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby KeithE » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:48 am

William Thornton wrote:The narrative keeps evolving. I actually enjoyed reading some of her stuff but this was a personal disaster. Lots of pastors get forced out but few with a severance of a half million.

{challenge from Timothy}

I think it's in one of the ny post stories. Insiders went to the NYT and post to. A year's salary and housing. Pretty sweet deal but they can afford it.


Here are the numbers from the NY Post story - no mention of any severance pay after completion of her 5 year contract. In my view her annual salary of $250,000 for such an important job is reasonable.

Butler was hired in 2014 as the seventh senior minister of Riverside Church — a massive Gothic cathedral in Morningside Heights known as a bastion of inter-denominational liberalism that was led during the late 1970s and ’80s by the late anti-war activist the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr.

Butler’s cushy five-year contract, which expired June 30, paid her a $250,000 annual salary, an $8,000-a-month housing allowance and more than $55,000 in yearly pension contributions, according to documents obtained by The Post.

Even before the vibrator incident, the two parties were “far apart on negotiations,” as Butler had hired a lawyer to help her try to score a $100,000-a-year raise, a source said.


Here is the NY Times article (which you may or may not have access to - it only costs $2/week).

I find no mention any severance pay in this article either (including a search of the 379 comments). So, William provide a link.

Reading the NYT article I see that the issues causing her non-renewal of contract was far more involved than the sex toy purchase incident. It was mostly about her demand for $100K more in salary. Also involved conflict with guy her bought her a “sweet bitch” t-shirt.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby William Thornton » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:42 am

For clergy pay you have to add salary and housing. So $350k plus benefits. I don't care what a church pays their minister. I know of a couple of SBC churches that agreed to a year's severance.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby Haruo » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:34 am

Life in the Big Apple is steep, even if Victoria's Secret is having a Prime Days sale in memory of Jeffrey Epstein. A 405K$ severance package will only last a few weeks there. Hope she has another gig lined up.

I must say I think it's appalling that a pastor, brick-and-mortar or virtual, would demand such an income. Even in NYC. Now I feel like I need to read a few of her sermons.
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Re: Amy Butler

Postby KeithE » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:32 pm

Haruo wrote:Life in the Big Apple is steep, even if Victoria's Secret is having a Prime Days sale in memory of Jeffrey Epstein. A 405K$ severance package will only last a few weeks there. Hope she has another gig lined up.

I must say I think it's appalling that a pastor, brick-and-mortar or virtual, would demand such an income. Even in NYC. Now I feel like I need to read a few of her sermons.


I think ministers (like teachers and nurses) should be paid more than they are. Good engineers at their prime are paid about $200K + $50K in 401 contributions. Specially-talented engineers or those that rise to upper management are paid more. Good ministers at large churches should be paid well into the 100’sK given their educational requirements and value to society. They should not be asked to sacrifice.

Note that Butler’s ~$350K total package is no where near what 100’s of CEOs make (over $10M/year that’s 30 times as much as Butler and 666 times that of min wage earners - that is obscene).

Highest paid CEOs.

Averagee CEO (all size companies) is a shade under $800K+ retirement and benefits)

Just my opinion, experience ion government-funded engineering, and sense of worth.
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