Butler Church was founded in the year 1912 through the efforts of a group of civil minded African American men, Messrs. Joseph Hill, George Eccles, Delancy Boyd, Archie Ross, Claybourne Johnson, Charles Williams, James Nelson and Joseph Hill, Jr., who wanted to establish a Methodist Church in the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx, New York. They initially met at the Williamsbridge Colored Men’s Association located at 706 East 215th Street, Bronx, New York with its’ first Minister, Reverend Gilbert Wilson (1912-1913). The church started as a Mission of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Manhattan until 1930 when Rev. J.N.C Davis initiated a transfer to the Delaware Conference, where we remained until 1964 when we transferred to the New York Annual Conference. The name “Butler” was given in memory of the late Rev. William P. Butler, the first Minister of St. Mark’s.
Mrs. Belle Johnson, a dedicated member of St. Mark’s, advanced a loan of $500.00 to purchase property at 706 East 223rd Street at a cost of $5,500.00. Lots were also purchased on the northwest corner of East 222nd Street and Barnes Avenue, Bronx, NY to erect a new church but was later sold to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Rev. W. P. Johnson
Rev. William P. Johnson was appointed Pastor in 1942, he worked very hard and made many sacrifices for the benefit of the church. Membership increased, church school grew and additional space was urgently needed. In 1947, with Bishop J.W.E Bowen officiating, the mortgage for 706 East 223rd Street was burned. Later on a Building program was started to build a new church to serve a rapidly growing community; a Groundbreaking Ceremony was held on May 20, 1961, the building was completed and the congregation marched to the new church at 3920 Paulding Avenue, Bronx, NY on Sunday, July 1, 1962. The mortgage was burnt December 16, 1973.
The congregation continued to grow, church ministries increased, Ecumenical Services began with other neighborhood churches and Thanksgiving Services with Trinity Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Nathaniel T. Lloyd started. In 1974, after thirty-two years of service, Rev. W.P. Johnson retired. It was agreed that he deserved a special honor, we requested and received permission from Mayor David N. Dinkins, the first African American Mayor of the City of New York, to name Paulding Avenue from East 222nd to East 223rd Street, Bronx, NY the “REV. W.P. JOHNSON PLACE”. A dedication ceremony was held on May 31, 1992 and Rev. Johnson was given the title, “Pastor Emeritus”.
Rev. Granville A. Forde
July 7, 1974, we welcomed our seventh pastor, Rev. Granville A Forde, Associate Pastor of Salem United Methodist Church, along with his wife and daughter. Church membership increased tremendously; to accommodate everyone, in the fall of 1981, an 8:00 a.m. service was added along with the 11:00 a.m. Sunday Worship Service. During 1980’s a number of new Ministerial Programs, Clubs and other activities such as a Newsletter, Wednesday Morning Bible Study, Nurses’ Unit, an additional Choir, Boys’ and Girls’ Scout Units and a Bowling Team started. Central air conditioning was installed and a new organ purchased. In June 1981, the church instituted a Scholarship Program with annual scholarships given to our deserving young people. In 1995 a four-phase expansion program began.
Butler also sponsored four ministerial candidates: Ruthenia Finley, Noel Chin, Beryl Salmon and Estella Abel. Three became Pastors and one a Deacon. On June 30, 1998, after twenty-four years of dedicated service, Rev. Granville Forde retired as “Pastor Emeritus”.
Rev. Noel N. Chin
On June 30, 1998 Rev. Noel N. Chin, former Pastor of Calvary United Methodist Church was appointed our eight pastor. We welcomed him along with his wife and three children. In July 1998 a parsonage was purchased in Mt. Vernon, New York, a church van in 2001 and the property at 1023 East 223rd Street (the parking lot). On July 1, 2003, Rev. Chin was appointed District Superintendent of the Metropolitan North District.
Rev. St. Claire A. Samuel
We welcomed our ninth Pastor, Rev. St. Claire A. Samuel, former Pastor of Freeport United Methodist Church, accompanied by his wife and son on July 1, 2003. Plans for the Expansion and Renovation Project to church facilities were finalized. Rev. Samuel continued to nurture and equip members for leadership and to reach out to others in the community. On July 1, 2011, Rev. Samuel he was appointed District Superintendent of the New York Annual Conference Metropolitan District.
Rev. Dr. Allen N. Pinckney, Jr.
July 1, 2011, Rev. Dr. Allen N. Pinckney, Jr., former Pastor of Salem United Methodist Church, accompanied by his wife and two sons, became the tenth pastor of Butler Memorial United Church. Butler broke ground on the Expansion and Renovation Project on May 7, 2012, it is near completion.
We are thankful to our Pastors, past and present, our exemplary Leadership Team for their steadfast work on this journey and our Church Family for their support and patience. With God’s help we will continue to be “A Caring Church and a Beacon in the Community”.