The Living Church

Year Article Type Limit by Author

The Living ChurchSeptember 6, 1998Bishop Butterfield of Vermont Was Champion of Civil Rights 217(10) p. 8

The Rt. Rev. Harvey Dean Butterfield, 90, sixth Bishop of Vermont, died Aug. 10 at The Arbors in Shelburne, Vt., after a long illness. He was a life-long fighter for social justice.

In the early 1960s, Bishop Butterfield was actively involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In a quote from the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press, he said, "The personal politics of the preacher should never enter his work. It is, however, the duty of the clergyman to call attention to issues which affect Christian morality."

He opposed the draft, U.S. policies in Southeast Asia and was vocally critical when National Guard troops killed students at Kent State (Ohio) University.

In 1970 he asked the church to include blacks, the poor, the young, "people (who) are determined to change our nation and our society into something far more honest, far more just and far more decent than it is today." Bishop Butterfield participated in the ordination of Vermont's first woman deacon.

After his retirement in 1974, Bishop Butterfield continued to play a role in bringing about social justice. He spent six months doing ministry in El Salvador. When he returned to Vermont, he regularly visited the elderly and terminally ill and served on the boards of Parents Anonymous and Planned Parenthood of Vermont.

A native of North Troy, Vt., Bishop Butterfield attended the University of Vermont and General Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon in 1934 and priest in 1935; he was consecrated bishop in 1961. Bishop Butterfield served as deacon-in-charge of St. Mary's, Carle Place, N.Y., 1934-35; curate at Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Pa, 1935-36; rector of Christ Church, Media, Pa., 1936-41; rector of St. Luke's, Germantown, Pa., 1941-43; rector of Trinity, Rutland, Vt., 1943-56; and rector of St. Paul's, Burlington, Vt., 1958-61. Bishop Butterfield also served as an Army chaplain during the Korean conflict.

Bishop Butterfield is survived by a brother, Bruce, South Burlington, Vt., a son, Whit, South Glens Falls, N.Y.; a daughter, Deborah Galbraith, South Burlington; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.