Developer-Turned-Pastor Gives Landmark African-American Church A Soulful New Start | KERA News

Developer-Turned-Pastor Gives Landmark African-American Church A Soulful New Start

Oct 10, 2014

Nestled in the shiny heart of the Dallas Arts District is a throwback: St. Paul United Methodist Church. This icon of the African American community was born a century and a half ago and has just embraced a new leader – who doesn’t have the standard pastoral resume.

Richie Butler is a developer who’s closed more than a billion dollars’ worth of real estate deals. He founded a congregation called Union Cathedral, which just merged with St. Paul. And, he’s not even a Methodist. Butler sat down with KERA’s vice president of news, for this week’s Friday Conversation.

Interview Highlights: Pastor Richie Butler On…

...how a real estate developer becomes a pastor: "I grew up in a depressed area of Austin and when I got to SMU started preaching when I got to college but also had a passion and desire to want to see my neighborhood back in East Austin transformed. I also got involved in doing some work in South Dallas and researched that and came to the conclusion that real estate developers, I mean they take a piece of land, they take a building, cities have been built because of developers. Abraham was the first real estate developer."

...the previously dwindling congregation at St. Paul: "Historically that area, State Thomas, was an African American community. We're uniquely positioned, we're in the Arts District. The arts, whether it's music, drama, all of that is a nexus of bringing or connecting people from various backgrounds, just like sports."

...the song that represents that church: "Donald Lawrence, a gospel recording artist, has a song that says 'the best is yet to come' and I think that fully embraces St. Paul's future. I think it has a rich, powerful legacy and that's great. And now, St. Paul is going to greater."