Farewell to Orval Butcher

I received the news that my dear friend and mentor, Orval Butcher, passed away yesterday.  I am both happy and sad this morning.  Happy, that he is now experiencing the ultimate glory.  Sad, that he is gone now from this earth.

Dr. Butcher was one of the most influential people in my life.  He modeled a life of joyous love for God and others and stood as my example for maintaining a vibrant faith in the midst of multiple, demanding responsibilities.

Pastor Butcher was an early leader in the Youth for Christ movement, working closely with Billy Graham and the founding pastor of Skyline Chuch in San Diego. (Followed by John Maxwell and Jim Garlow.)

He was an outstanding pastor, leading the thriving congregation to become the largest Wesleyan church in the world.

In the early years, he took his stand for reaching out to young people, which cost him a few conservative, critical members who didn't get it.  It was definitely the right decision.  Hiring the first youth pastor in the Wesleyan Church (Jimmy Johnson), Skyline Church literally reached thousands of young people over the years.  The music program at Skyline was tremendous as well, serving as an inspiration and model for countless congregations around the world.

Upon retirement, he invested his life in serving pastors, missionaries and ministerial students.  Even during his later days, in failing health, he wrote many letters of blessing and encouragement.  He will be deeply missed.

Dr. Butcher was known for his deep love for God and people, as well as his outstanding tenor voice.

It has been a great privilege to call Pastor Butcher my friend. He prayed over me at my ordination, and  followed the progress of the church here in Hayward with keen interest.  He even popped in for a surprise visit in Wisconsin during my early years in the northwoods.
A few great quotes from Dr. Butcher:

"Everything we do in church falls under one of two verbs: Come or Go."

"Keep your soul moist."

"Virtually all the people who attend Skyline are brand new believers (or trying to be believers) so they always hear just three things from me:  1) God loves you.  2) Jesus died for you.  3) I care about you

"I can hire people to come in as Prophecy Experts, Revival Specialitsts, Bible Scholars, and Family Issue Authorities. . . but I can never hire anyone to love my people. That's my job."


This news travels fast. I just heard it this morning, and we're related!
Keith Campbell said…
Great tribute of words Mark! My condolences to his family & friends.
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Patti Adels McCallum said…
He will be greatly missed!!

I am trying for find out if his teachings on the Beatitudes were ever published in any way. I heard him teach the lessons at Hastings camp in the late 80's. Like nothing I have ever heard before or since.

He was an "Irish" tenor and one of the most gifted pianists and arrangers that I have met.

Patti mcCallum
sharon libby said…

Many times I've asked myself, "How can somebody be sad and happy at the same time?" I just found out that it is, indeed, possible. My heart is heavy right now because my dear sweet "shepherd," Pastor Orval C. Butcher went to be with the Lord today. I have known Pastor Butcher for a little over 30 years and I will miss him something awful. He has stood by me through many of my challenges; he baptized my first born son; he endorsed my book; and, we loved our weekly visits over the phone. I am thankful that my husband and I were able to visit with Pastor Butcher personally on our recent trip to California.

Over the past few months, Pastor Butcher told me many times that he wanted to go to heaven. Pastor Butcher would have turned 93 in December and has been on dialysis since 2006. He had such a strong ministry, even up to the end. I am the one that was not ready to let him go; but, I'm happy that he is with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ now and he is no longer in any discomfort. To God be the Glory!

Pastor Butcher was the founding pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in Lemon Grove, California and since retiring has ministered through Orval C. Butcher Ministries. I was hoping and praying that he would live long enough to see the construction of the new auditorium that was to be named Pastor Orval Butcher Chapel upon completion, but that didn't happen. However, when we took Pastor Butcher to lunch in July he took us by the property where the chapel will stand in his honor. When the chapel is done Pastor Butcher will smile down from heaven and say, "Glory," which was his favorite phrase. Everybody else will say, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant."

There are many who are pastors but not many that are a pastor and a shepherd like Pastor Butcher was. He cared deeply for his flock! We will love and miss our dear sweet servant of God. "Thank you God for allowing Pastor Butcher to be a part of our lives for so many years. Take good care of him until we meet again at the throne of Glory. Amen."

Blessings, Sharon Libby
perrittfamily said…
Thank you, Mark, for posting this wonderful tribute to Pastor Butcher. His influence goes on like ripples in the water. Those of us who were shepherded by him feel our world is poorer for his absence, but know heaven is richer for his presence!
One correction I can offer to the information you've posted: Jimmy Johnson, who had a huge youth ministry at Skyline, was, however, not the first Wesleyan youth pastor or even the first at Skyline. He followed Derric Johnson (who has written a book in tribute to Pastor Butcher called "Chips off the Butcher Block"), who built a great foundation for Jimmy to build on when he himself moved on to start Skyline's very vital Collegian program.
Alden Butcher said…
As a matter of fact, Jerry O'Brian was the very first youth minister at Skyline Wesleyan, though for a very short time. He used to wear a clerical collar which was interesting. I was ten or eleven years old at the time. Alden, Pastor's son.
I, too, will miss Pastor Butcher. It is because of his emphasis on missions, that I joined Wycliffe Bible translators. What an encourager he was. I send out an email often for prayer requests and he would always answer to tell me he was praying. He called as well to encourage me to press on with the translation. What a great example of what it means to follow Jesus!

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