Choose Healthy Life, its founder Debra Fraser-Howze, co-chair Rev. Al Sharpton and members
of the National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council mourn the loss of Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts
III who transitioned to the Lord earlier today. Rev. Butts served as a founding co-chair with Rev.
Sharpton of Choose Healthy Life’s National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council. Rev. Butts
was in the ministry for 50 years and served with honor and distinction as Pastor of The
Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY.
“He was my pastor and friend for more than 40 years and he had a profound impact on all
those he touched,” said Debra Fraser-Howze. “Rev. Butts raised money for the Black church to
address teenage pregnancy and worked with me and the ministers to change the face of AIDS –
just by the magic of getting tested from the pulpit and encouraging others to do so.  Most
recently, he did the same for COVID by getting tested publicly. He moved mountains with a
single touch and with grace and dignity and the community is safer because he lived.  Rev. Butts
was so firmly rooted with God and his faith was unwavering.  We pray for his wife Patricia and
his entire family.”
“Rev. Butts was a major pillar in the Harlem community and is irreplaceable,” said Rev.
Sharpton. “Over the last three years, he and I worked closely as co-chairs of the Choose Healthy
Life national campaign to help the Black community fight COVID. We spoke as late as a couple
of weeks ago about this work. He will be tremendously missed.”
Rev. Butts was a very strong advocate for the health of the community, having been appointed
to the United States Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), as well as serving as
Chairman of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) for which he was a
founding member of the organization’s Board of Trustees. In November 2020, Choose Healthy
Life established the National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council to help guide the non-
profit organization. His leadership contributed to a highly successful effort to administer nearly
100,000 COVID-19 tests and vaccines through 120 Black churches across 13 states.
Rev. Butts was committed to enhancing the kingdom of God on earth as evidenced by his loyal
commitment to the church and community development initiatives including homelessness,
senior citizen and youth empowerment, cultural awareness, and ecumenical outreach.
Choose Healthy Life offers its sincere condolences to the family, congregation and to all those
who knew Rev. Butts.



Debra Fraser-Howze


National Black Clergy Health Leadership Council


Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III*

Abyssinian Baptist Church

Rev. Al Sharpton

National Action Network

Council Members

Rev. Jacques DeGraff

New York, N.Y.

CHL New York Leader

Rev. Que English

New York, NY

Bronx Christian Fellowship Church

Rev. Darrell Griffin

Chicago, Ill.

Oakdale Covenant Church

Rev. David Jefferson

Newark, N.J.

Metropolitan Baptist Church

Rev. Nelson Rivers

Charleston, S.C.

Charity Missionary Baptist Church

Rev. Horace Sheffield

Detroit, Mich.

New Destiny Christian Fellowship

Rev. Mitchell Stevens

New Orleans, La.

Pilgrim Baptist Church

Rev. Frank D. Tucker

Washington, D.C. First Baptist Church

Rev. Raphael Warnock

Atlanta, Ga.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Rev. Matthew Watley

Silver Spring, M.D.

Kingdom Fellowship AME Church

Medical Advisory Board

Donna Christensen, MD

U.S. House of Representatives


Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

President and CEO

Resolve to Save Lives

Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS

Assoc. Dean, Health Equity Research

Yale School of Medicine

Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, MBA

Massachusetts General Hospital

Harvard Medical School

Louis Sullivan, MD

President Emeritus

Morehouse School of Medicine

Reed Tuckson, MD, FACP


Black Coalition Against COVID-19

*of blessed memory