by Sadie Williams
Reverend Jane Butterfield retired in 2011. Like most passionate people, however, retirement did not signal an end to her involvement in the divine work force. In the summer of 2014, Rev. Butterfield became the official Interim Priest at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Shelburne after Rev. Craig Smith’s retirement in November of 2013. She will serve for a minimum of one year and up to two years, or until the church finds a new leader.
Trinity did not choose Rev. Butterfield at random. In fact, she sought out the position after her husband, Rev. Dr. Titus L. Presler, was forced to leave his post as President of Edwardes College in Peshawar, Pakistan, at the beginning of this year. Although Rev. Butterfield does not reveal the specifics of the incident, Presler made a public statement in March detailing an assault in which he was beaten, his passport destroyed, and he was warned to leave the country. In Rev. Butterfields words, “There was a bit of crisis that precipitated my inquiry.”
Rev. Butterfield seems to share her husband’s inclination for travel and service on a global scale. She was an appointed missionary in Zimbabwe before graduating from the Episcopal Divinity School, where she met Presler, in Cambridge, Mass. in 1989. Her interest in mission work extends to creative activities as well. Notably, she edited the documentary “The Scripture of Their Lives: Stories of Mission Companions Today,” and produced a 12 part documentary series called “Windows on a Mission,” which followed missionaries on their global work. Both were published in 2006 while she was working at the Grace Episcopal Church in New York.
Revs. Butterfield and Presler started making the hike from Massachusetts to Vermont frequently in 1976, camping in Montgomery with Preslers relatives and eventually, the couple’s four children. The couple is now happy to call this northern Vermont town home, and plan to spend their retirement there.
It’s quite apparent that Rev. Butterfield holds a special appreciation of the natural world. She speaks fondly of the rural landscape of her latest abode, and how she enjoys the varied outdoor activities that Vermont’s environment provides. She and Presler “like making trails, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and managing our little bit of forest.”
This love of nature spills over into her views of her congregation and the community she serves in Shelburne. She speaks of the town as being “very open and engaged and concerned about the world beyond itself,” and says she’s “enjoying the beauty” of the town and surrounding areas.
Interestingly, she also notes that Trinity seems to have an unusually active congregation “In a day when a lot of people don’t take time to go to church on Sunday morning.” She also appreciates the high levels of leadership and involvement she sees here, and that members of the congregation “are involved in some of the major institutions in Shelburne.”
Although she is enjoying her time in Shelburne, Rev. Butterfield is looking forward to retirement. She will continue to work within the church, possibly assisting Rev. Presler with his work in Peshawar, Pakistan and enjoying the bounty of the natural world here in Vermont. Of course, she’ll also be making time to visit her four children and two grandchildren, all of whom are scattered throughout New England. That in itself will be a full time job.
by Sadie Williams