Thursday, September 29, 2016

Remembering a Faith & Work Leader

Howard E. Butt, Jr., a leader of the Faith and Work movement, recently died in his home in San Antonio at the age of 89. Link here.

If you don't recognize Howard Butt's name, you probably know his business, the H-E-B grocery store chain, which also operates Central Market grocery stores, and the H.E. Butt Family Foundation.

H-E-B was founded by his grandmother, Florence Butt, in 1905, when she moved her sick husband and three small sons to Kerrville, Texas, from Memphis, Tenn.

Today, H-E-B is a $20 billion enterprise that is ranked in the top 20 of Forbes' list of "America's Largest Private Companies" and operates more than 350 grocery stores throughout Texas and Mexico. Until 1976, H-E-B stores remained closed on Sundays.

The late Texas business executive and our founder, R.G. LeTourneau, had a similar worldview. They both saw their daily work as a holy calling. They both learned to rely on God's provision in their families and businesses. They both were well acquainted with Billy Graham and both traveled around the country as preachers on the church revival circuit.

Our LETU Center for Faith & Work has partnered with the Butt Foundation on a number of projects including articles for The High Calling of Our Daily Work, Making Mondays Meaningful (a curriculum to help churches make whole-life disciples), and most recently the upcoming Faith@Work Summit in Dallas on Oct. 27-29, which will bring together speakers from all over the world to discuss advancing the call to find God in our workplaces--which is something that R.G. LeTourneau and Howard E. Butt understood so well.

Also like LeTourneau, the Butt family had an eye toward philanthropy, contributing a percentage of its earnings to improve the communities where it operates, from promoting education to supporting food banks and disaster relief efforts.

H.E. Butt Family Foundation was first established in 1933 with a mission committed to "the renewal of society through the renewal of the Church; Church renewal through the renewal of the family; family renewal through renewed individuals."

In 1961, Butt founded the 1,900-acre Laity Lodge in the Texas Hill Country to provide a mental and spiritual retreat center where Christians could decompress from their frenetic lives and find God and experience peace of mind.

Laity Lodge ministry may be one of Butts' greatest legacies, along with his "High Calling of our Daily Work" radio ministry that provided insights and practical biblical wisdom.

God is redeeming all of creation - including the workplace and the marketplace. Like R.G. LeTourneau, Howard Butt was called to be part of this re-creation. It's our joy to also be part of God's renewal.