People from across North Carolina and the nation will come together Jan. 14 and 15 to pay tribute to a woman who has given her life to serve the Lord.
During two special services, singers from across the country will honor the ministry of Mrs. Billie Butler, a woman who is retiring after having served as the music director of The Capital Church in Garner since 1976.
Butler’s love of music started at an extremely early age.
“Billie began piano lessons in the first grade starting her musical journey,” a statement about Butler said. “When Billie was entering the sixth grade, the family moved to Tarboro and lived there while her father pastored the Tarboro Pentecostal Holiness Church for 13 years. In Tarboro she continued her piano studies under teacher Susie Pender. She soon started playing the piano in her father’s church, playing for musical activities at school, accompanying the glee club, playing roles in high school musicals.”
In 1957, after Butler married her high school sweetheart and moved to Raleigh, she became well known to those living in the Wake County community.
“Billie was asked to play the organ and direct the choir at Emmanuel Pentecostal Holiness Church, and she held this position for 14 years in addition to teaching piano lessons. She was the organist at Reynolds Coliseum playing for the N.C. State basketball games and NCHH ACC Tournaments. She thoroughly enjoyed entertaining everyone as she played the organ before and after the game and during halftime and the singing of the National Anthem.”
In 1976, Butler began serving as the music director of The Capital Church in Garner. When she began serving at the church, she directed a choir of approximately 25 to 30 members. Since that time, the choir has nearly doubled.
“Ms. Butler moved back to the Raleigh area in the summer of 1976 from Florida where her husband was an educator,” Wayne Denning, a friend of Butler said. “She was invited by the then Senior Pastor, Marvin Whitfield to become our Minister of Music. She graciously accepted and has served since then directing our choir in the morning worship service every Sunday and directing Easter and Christmas musicals every year since 1976 to a packed auditorium on Saturday and Sunday nights, for a total of 70 musicals! By my calculations, since the musicals were presented on two nights, she has literally directed a musical at our church for a total of 140 times.”
Butler has announced her retirement. However, church members want to pay tribute to her service. In January, The Capital Church will host Voices Reunited, an event to honor the life of Butler.
“Every person who has sung under Ms. Butler’s direction and could be located across our state and nation has been invited to come together once again reuniting their voices on one night - Jan. 14, 2012 at 7 p.m.,” Denning said. “We will celebrate the wonderful ministry of music Ms. Butler has striven to provide as we sing in this once in a lifetime event. Current and former members of The Capital Church Choir in Garner and former members of the Emmanuel P.H. Church in Raleigh where she served as choir director have been invited. Members of the Rosewood Baptist Church near Goldsboro and the Bayleaf Pentecostal Holiness Church in Fayetteville have also been invited. These churches joined with The Capital Church Choir and we also joined with them to sing in combined choirs.”
Denning said on the morning of Jan. 14 everyone who has pre-registered to sing will register at 9:30 and begin rehearsal at 10 a.m.
“We will break for lunch where 200 people will assemble in the fellowship hall for food, fellowship, the showing of baby pictures and ‘catching up’ in general. After lunch, more than 150 persons will finish rehearsing and prepare for the presentation at 7 p.m. During the presentation, the choir will sing and ministers involved in Ms. Butler’s many years of music ministry will speak very briefly regarding their impressions of Ms. Butler’s service to God. A DVD of the evening will be made available for $10.”
However, the celebrations do not end Jan. 14.
“On Sunday, Jan. 15 at 10:45 a.m., a first will occur for Ms. Butler and The Capital Church,” Denning said. “The church will have a morning worship service with a choir of over 100 current and former choir member’s voices singing praises to God. This will be the largest choir Ms. Butler has ever directed in a morning worship service. What a fitting tribute to her 50 years of service as a choir director.”
Denning describes Butler as a truly remarkable woman.
“Ms. Butler is an incredible person. Her vibrant personality and smile match her red hair and outgoing personality. Every Sunday after service, she is the last to leave as adults and children alike wait to speak to her. She is gifted at relaxing people she is meeting for the first time and shows everyone compassion as she asks what is going on in their life and listens to what they say. She takes her Christian service seriously and prays each time she is selecting music for Christian worship. Even though she is of retirement age, there is nothing retiring about her in appearance or demeanor. She cannot be replaced.”
Those who have served under Butler and wish to participate in the event can call 919-460-0473 for more information.