The Rev. Oliver Butler rejoices in a job where he can teach, baptize, play music and walk with families through the highs and lows of life. “I can lead people to the only One who can heal wounds and the only One who can offer hope in the midst of pain,” he said. “All that adds up to this being a pretty good gig.”
Butler, who has served as Associate for Young Adults for the last year and a half, didn’t always have this gig. He once was a parishioner at Saint Michael in the mid-90s, while he worked as a financial headhunter in corporate America. Originally from Houston, Butler attended college at Baylor and later at Virginia Theological Seminary. He worked at the Episcopal School of Dallas as Senior Chaplain, then for a year in Florida at an Episcopal school before returning to Texas to work as interim rector at St. Anne’s in DeSoto.
His early formation comes courtesy of Young Life in high school and college. But it was during his time at Saint Michael and volunteering with youth that he got the call to do more. He was arguing with the rector about theology and when the two clearly disagreed, Butler asked whether he should continue volunteering. The rector told him absolutely and asked whether he had ever thought about being a priest. He entered the seminary a couple of years later.
Butler is married to Elizabeth, and they have a 3-year-old daughter, Vera. The family also own and love their mixed-breed Pyrenees, Lacey. Butler is an avid musician and performs on occasion in a blue grass band and a Texas country band. He plays the guitar, dobro, banjo, and mandolin. He also loves the mountains, for hiking, relaxing on the beach, and cooking Texas BBQ in his smoker.
When asked to share a “blooper” about himself, Butler said that years ago during a noon-time Eucharist at Incarnation, he had never led a Rite I service by himself before. “There are some differences. I remember looking at it but I didn’t check everything. We got to post communion prayer and I couldn’t find it. I didn’t have a prayer book with me. So I guessed at the opening words figuring the Episcopalians would take it from there. It was the Prayer of Humble Access and I said, ‘I don’t presume to come to his table… .’ Everyone stared at me. I started sweating and dripping on the altar. I couldn’t find it. Finally a seminarian in the congregation gave it to me from his prayer book.”
Like the Rev. Bob Johnston, Butler is passionate about sharing the Gospel. In fact, the two teamed up together in the past at Church of the Incarnation where Butler helped Johnston start the Uptown Services, a contemporary worship that eventually doubled the size of the church. “We are buddies and we hang out outside of church and it’s fun. He’s a right-brain lawyer and I’m a left-brain musician, so it’s a blast. We complement each other pretty well.” The two are currently working on a similar effort at Saint Michael for the contemporary Celebration service. “It has steadily grown since the Fall,” he said. “Summer is down-time here, but we’ve seen a good response.”
Butler loves his life as a priest and looks forward to growing the Church and bringing more people to Christ, particularly with the energy of a new rector and the continuing momentum of the Celebration service.