Jerry Butler, longtime Alabama Baptist pastor and Disaster Relief volunteer, died Nov. 27 in Albertville. He was 86.
Butler was known as the “chain saw pastor” of Marshall Baptist Association, where he served many years as pastor of South Sauty Baptist Church, Langston. The nickname was an expression of the two ways he demonstrated his love of helping others.
On July 30, 2006, South Sauty celebrated Butler’s 50 years in ministry. Three days before that anniversary celebration, he was coordinating crews to work in St. Louis after a tornado and planning to travel yet again to train more chain saw-wielding workers in Louisiana.
Of his work, Butler said at the time: “The best thing that reflects me is helping people. That’s the best thing about ministry.”
‘Passionate’ about disaster relief
He began volunteering with Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief in 1981. He helped train chain saw volunteers and served for a time as the ABDR state coordinator of cleanup/recovery and chain saw teams.
The late Tommy Puckett, then director of disaster relief for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said of Butler: “He’s passionate about [disaster relief]. I am so thankful to him and his leadership … he’s one of the main reasons Alabama Baptists are in the top in Southern Baptist disaster relief work.”
Under Butler’s leadership, South Sauty’s Sunday School attendance more than doubled, from 16 to 50 people, and the church was recognized as a leader among Alabama Baptist churches in per capita giving through the Cooperative Program.
Butler also served as pastor of First Baptist Church Pelham from 1974 to 1978.
Butler was preceded in death by his wife, Janet. He is survived by two children, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.