Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2007-10-02

A bi-vocational minister and a dedicated layperson with eight decades of service between them were honored by Samford University Monday, Oct. 1.

Jerry A. Butler, pastor of South Sauty Baptist Church, Langston (Marshall Association), was named 2007 Alabama Baptist Minister of the Year.

Jean Wolf, longtime member of Auburn Heights Baptist Church, Phenix City (Russell Association), was named 2007 Alabama Baptist Layperson of the Year.

The two were recognized at a luncheon during the fall meeting of the Samford Board of Ministerial Mentors.

Butler, a veteran of 50 years in Alabama Baptist ministry, has led the Langston congregation since 1999. During his tenure, the church's Sunday School average attendance has grown from 16 people to 50, and its annual budget from $30,000 to $173,000. South Sauty is a leader among Alabama Baptist churches in per capita giving to Baptist mission causes.

The Blount County native was cited for encouraging his church to participate in mission ventures in Indiana, Romania, Venezuela and Guatemala.

Butler is volunteer coordinator of cleanup and recovery for the Alabama Baptist State Disaster Task Force.

His former pastorates include Gladeview Baptist Church in Anniston and Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Marshall County. He and his wife, Janet, have two sons and two grandsons.

Mrs. Wolf was cited for the investment she makes in the lives of children and women in Phenix City and Columbus, Georgia.

A teacher in the Auburn Heights children's department for 30 years, she drives the church van twice a week to pick up children, coordinates a summer program, leads the children's choir and directs plays, and takes children on monthly visits to a nursing home.

Wolf hosts an interdenominational women's Bible study and is consultant for the Association's Women on Missions. She is a former Woman's Missionary Union associational director. She has led Backyard Bible Clubs and Vacation Bible Schools in Ecuador and Canada.

She retired in 1995 after a career teaching computer science in Columbus, Ga., where she resides. She continues to teach as a substitute.

Harold Chandler of Huntsville, chairman of the Samford Board of Ministerial Mentors, introduced the honorees at the luncheon in their honor. Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland presented the plaques.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.