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Reverend Dr Calvin Butts Honored in Powerful Funeral Service at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem

NEW YORK — Friday marked a final goodbye for the Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts III.

A visitation and funeral was held at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where he led for decades.

Six faithful servants carried the body of Reverend Dr Calvin Butts out of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, the place he called home for decades.

Inside the church, every seat was filled and every eye filled with tears in what can only be described as a celebration of life.

The Reverend’s wife and children sat together as a who’s who of political leaders spoke of his character and legacy.

“Today we salute and show a man we love, a man we admire,” former President Bill Clinton said.

“You can always count on Pastor Butts to be honest. Pastor Butts was a truth-teller,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

“There’s a hole in my heart that I don’t think will heal for a long time,” Mayor Eric Adams said.

But perhaps the most touching words came from the reverend’s young grandsons.

“To most people he was Reverend Doctor Calvin Butts, but to us he was just dad,” grandson Alex Butts said. “He was an amazing grandfather. He told us to do our best, do well in school and look presentable when we got out.”

“He gave so much and for someone who gave so much, you have to wonder, when is he going to rest? When is he going to receive, not give? Although we are in mourning, I must , I’m comforted by the fact that I know he’s resting,” said grandson Calvin Otis Butts V.

The pearls of wisdom Reverend Butts imparted every Sunday fueled the hour-long line of community leaders and worshipers who spoke of his magnetic ability to encourage and inspire.

“I feel loss, but I also feel strength. I feel encouraged. I know who he would want me to be and how he would want me to show up for the community,” said Sandra Maldonado, a member of the church, to CBS2’s Jessica Moore.

Butts joined the church in 1972 as a youth minister and quickly endeared himself to thousands of congregants and the community.

“His ministry didn’t stop at the door. Economic development, educational opportunity, political inquiry, you name it, Butts was doing it. He spent 50 years here,” Reverend Marvin McMickle said.

“It kind of fit, I mean, sure, the church fits the personality of Reverend Butts. He was humorous, he was caring, he was stern when needed, so it was a great service,” parishioner Arlene Wilcox said.

Church leaders say Butts knew the end was near for him and he himself played a key role in planning his celebration of life so that it would go exactly as he wanted.