Conference President

Butz, Edwin Sebastian

1914 - 1916

The task of following the gifted Charles Watson fell to Edwin Butz. Born in the United States in 1864, Butz, his wife Florence, and daughter Alma, came to the South Seas in 1895 on the third voyage of the mission schooner Pitcairn. They first served as missionaries on the historic island of Pitcairn and then pioneered the Adventist mission in Tonga. Butz was ordained to the ministry in 1901 while attending the General Conference session at Battle and stayed on in America till 1906. They then responded to an invitation to again be missionaries to Australasia and located in Australia. Butz served as president of two conferences, South Australia and Tasmania, before his appointment to the Queensland Conference in 1914.

Butz’s tenancy of the Queensland presidency was brief—a little over a year.  Toward the end of 1915, in a public forum, Butz expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of some of his ministers. The Conference Executive Committee took Butz to task for this public humiliation of his pastors and expressed the view that his criticism was unjustified and counter productive. Butz defended his actions resolutely and as a consequence several members of the executive committee advised they could no longer serve under him. Whether his outburst had been warranted or not, Butz wisely read the mood of his committee and acted with dignity. He tendered his resignation rather than create further tension within the Conference.

This unpleasant event did not, however, end Butz’s career as an administrator for he later served as president of the Western Australian and North New Zealand conferences. He also worked at Avondale for some years during the early 1920s, serving as preceptor and teacher of Bible and Physiology. The Butz’s retired to Melbourne where Edwin continued to help his church in a pastoral role. Both Edwin and Florence enjoyed long lives; he died in July 1956 and she in March 1957.

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