Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, who served as one the largest and most influential Black churches in the country for 50 years, has passed away at the age of 73. He was the senior pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church and one of New York City’s most influential religious and community leaders.
“It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022. The Butts Family & entire Abyssinian Baptist Church membership solicit your prayers,” the church tweeted. No cause of death was given.
Butts was celebrating 50 years with the famed church this year and passed away of pancreatic cancer.
Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. They may include:
- Abdominal pain that radiates to your back
- Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
- Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
- Light-colored stools
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- New diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that’s becoming more difficult to control
- Blood clots
Butts was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. He graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, then returned to the New York area and earned a master’s degree from Union Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Drew University. He began his ministry at Abyssinian while in graduate school.
Reverend Butts helped found, and was the Chairman of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community-based, not-for-profit organization responsible for over $1 billion in housing and commercial development in Harlem. Dr. Butts was also instrumental in establishing the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change – a public, state-of-the-art, intermediate and high school in Harlem, and he was the visionary behind the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School.
The Reverend served as President of Africare NYC, an independent organization dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life in rural Africa, and was a member of the board of the September 11th Fund. Dr. Butts received honorary degrees from Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the City University of New York/The City College of New York and many others.
For his community activism, Dr. Butts received innumerable honors and commendations, including the United Negro College Fund’s Shirley Chisholm Community Service Award; The Medal for Distinguished Service from Teachers College, Columbia University and the incredible…