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Friday, March 24, 2023

New start for disenfranchised

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Indianapolis is preparing to welcome its newest congregation this week.

The House of God Church will host an “old fashioned” grand opening praise service at 4 p.m. on Jan. 20 inside the church, located at 3224 Schofield Ave.

“At this time we’re saying to the community, ‘OK, we’re officially open now,’” said the church’s founding leader, Pastor Clary K. Butler Jr.

To some individuals Butler might seem like the right kind of individual to lead a new church with a different vision. His resume, after all, is somewhat different than those of most clergymen.

Since accepting Christ into his life and moving to Indiana from his native South Carolina in 2000, Butler has worked as a lawyer, legislative assistant to former Gov. Joe Kernan and president of his own consulting firm. Presently he serves as chief of staff and vice president of external affairs for the Indiana Minority Health Coalition (IMHC).

However, the son of a prominent Southern minister noted that he has also received a calling to offer a ministry that challenges the established idea of what contemporary churches should be all about.

“Our church is about loving everybody,” said Butler. “We focus more on the goal of getting to heaven as opposed to the shock value of hell. We think it’s more important to focus on the promise.”

To illustrate his point, Butler recounted the biblical story of the Apostle Peter being able to walk on water as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. Peter began to sink as soon as his faith wavered and he took his eyes off Jesus, the “promise.”

“It’s important to focus on heaven and the Son of God instead of the problems and trials of this life or how you’ll go to hell if don’t do this or that,” said Butler.

When The House of God Church started in December it had no members. Less than a month later it already has 20 committed members who gather for worship at a renovated house once owned by another church.

“It’s not a large building, but it’s a great place to start,” Butler stated. “Our motto is ‘we’re large enough to serve you, but small enough to know you.’”

The congregation is also developing three service ministries, including one that picks elementary age children from home, tutors them on homework and shows them how to play musical praise instruments. The other ministries are designed to assist parents who can’t afford books for their children, and provide food for those in need each week.

At age 29 Butler is among a growing generation of young leaders who are becoming pastors of existing churches or establishing their own.

Butler said a primary concern for pastors in his father’s generation was making sure churches had a van to provide transportation to service. Today’s pastors, he says, have the challenge of getting people to want to go to church.

“So many have been disenfranchised from the church,” said Butler. “They are broken hearted by a priest or pastor who abused a child, someone who went out and slept with the secretary and other things that make it difficult to embrace the idea of church. So our objective is to welcome everybody back home.”

Butler envisions a church where visitors don’t feel isolated or judged by strict dress and conduct codes.

“We don’t believe we have to tear down anybody that’s helping to build the kingdom,” he stated. “This is a not a situation where we think we can do something better than other churches. Jesus preached two things, life and love. We must love everybody.”

Individuals familiar with Butler have nothing but good things to say about him.

Nancy Jewell, director of the IMHC, describes Butler as “a young man with a strong devotion to quality and excellence, as well as outstanding leadership capabilities.”

Marion County Judge David Shaheed, who sometimes discusses religion with Butler, called him a “very pleasant and spiritually based person.”

For more information about The House of God call (317) 658-7929. Sunday school is at 10 a.m., Sunday service at noon and Wednesday Bible study at 7 p.m.

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