The Rev. Amy Butler, the first woman to become pastor of the historic Riverside Church in New York City, is stepping down after five years in the pulpit.
The church affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ announced Tuesday that Butler will not be renewing her contract as senior minister.
Butler, a graduate of Baylor University and the International Baptist Theological Seminary called to the position in 2014 after 11 years as senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., described her five years at Riverside as “one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Organized in 1930 by industrialist John D. Rockefeller, Riverside Church has long been a bastion of progressive Christianity. Former pastors include Harry Emerson Fosdick, central figure in the fundamentalist-modernist controversy among American Protestants in the 1920s and 1930s.
Another former senior minister, William Sloane Coffin, was a noted peace activist during the Vietnam War. James A. Forbes, the church’s first African-American senior pastor who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, retired as pastor emeritus in 2007.
Butler, originally from Hawaii and a single mother of three adult children, served previously as associate pastor at St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.
The Rev. Michael Livingston, the executive minister at the Riverside Church since 2014, has been named as interim senior minister.