The steering committee of MVPJ celebrates the life of Father John Beverley Butcher, a man who brought love and laughter to every gathering, a deep commitment to social justice to all of his work, a passion for life that was contagious, and a level of determination to achieve even the most difficult of challenges. John died in July of 2011. His work for justice, peace and integrity continues to inspire us all.
The following is a write-up about John from the Episcopal Diocese of California.
The Rev John Beverley Butcher, retired priest of the Diocese of California died peacefully on Saturday morning, June 18, after several weeks in hospice care at the home of a relative. His wife Grace and daughter Marie were with him throughout.
John earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Harvard and a Master of Divinity from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He was ordained in Arizona in 1960, where he served congregations in Winslow, Sedona, and Clarksdale. While in Arizona he served as a chaplain of the Arizona State Prison and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area he served as a Pastor at Trinity Church in Menlo Park before becoming Rector of St. Peter's in San Francisco. John retired from priesthood in The Episcopal Church and became a minister of the Pescadero Community Church in the Fall of 2005.
John authored several books, including:
• The Tao of Jesus, Harper, San Francisco 1994, revised 2006, Apocryphile Press
• Telling the Untold Stories, Trinity Press International, 2000
• An Uncommon Lectionary, Polebridge Press, 2002
As founder of the Seers Institute in Menlo Park, John studied deeply the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and those who were closest to him, including Mary of Magdala. A product of these studies is his most recent book Sacred Partnership: Jesus and Mary Magdelene [Apocryphile Press: April 2011] in which he considers the relationship between the two giving historical validity to the texts of the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary.
John was also a student of Chinese philosophy through Lao Tzu and of Jungian psychology. John served as an Associate Fellow of The Jesus Seminar, and a Fellow of the Canadian College of Chinese Studies where he collaborated with the Taoist scholar Wee-Chong Tan. John was an ardent activist for peace and human rights and served on the Steering Committee of Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice. Everyone who got to know John soon became aware that he was also a lover of visionary art with an extensive collection of works that inspired and challenged viewers to visualize a deeper connection to the divine and all creation.
Arrangements for memorial services in the differing communities that John inhabited are being planned for later this summer and information about those will be made available soon.