Howard Butt Reflects on Faith and Beauty

Beauty is one of the anchors that we believe helps people encounter God. Howard Butt Jr. often talked about faith and beauty as pathways to the creator. In 1997, he spoke to the staff in the Great Hall at Laity Lodge in one of many all-staff gatherings for the Foundation.

“I need not shout my faith. Thrice eloquent
Are quiet trees and the green listening sod;
Hushed are the stars, whose power is never spent;
The hills are mute: yet how they speak of God!”

Our future comes out of our past.

I wish every one of you here could have known my grandmother. In those years she had one story she told over and over and over again. She said, “When the first store was opened, I went in and I was sweeping out,” and she said, “I found a little Bible, a little New Testament. I decided this is a good omen. I knelt down and on my knees, I committed that business to God.”

And of course I wish you could have known mother. She came from strong Methodist roots, and she was creating so much good the governor put her on the state hospital board. She was the first woman ever to be put on a state board in Texas. And I want to tell you she changed the state hospital system.

And my dad. My dad built the H. E. Butt Grocery Company out of his own character, out of his own Christian character. He spent his life serving God and his family and his customers and his employees.

Can you understand why I’m so fired up about our vision in this foundation? It’s because in my grandmother and in my mother and in my father who started out in that little town of Kerrville, in unbelievably humble, modest, poor circumstances, in those people, centered in Jesus Christ, I have seen up close what ordinary people can do to change the world.

You know what’s central to our ministries? It’s the beauty of this place. Beauty in the way we do our work.

That’s why our ministries out here are never going to be hard-sell evangelism. Our evangelism is the kind of gentle, friendship evangelism—relational evangelism—that capitalizes on the fact that God is working in those people’s lives because they come out here and have been drowned in all this beauty.

Solzhenitsyn said, “Beauty will save the world.”

[Jesus] is the lily of the valley. He is the rose of Sharon. He is the bright and morning star. He is the one altogether lovely. That’s what he wants to make us.

Something beautiful for God.

… our ministries out here are never going to be hard-sell evangelism … God is working in people’s lives because they come out here and have been drowned in all this beauty.

More from this issue

Why Camp?

The purpose and future of the life-changing Foundation Camp

Spaces Created for You & Me

San Antonio architect Jonathan Card reflects on bringing the intentionality of the Canyon to a new space in the city.

We Gather. We Learn.

A series of events change San Antonio’s story—together.

Six for San Antonio

Six nonprofits join the fifth capacity-building cohort.

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