Both ordained pastors, Dawn Butt and Geoff Butt took over the positions of Salvation Army Lieutenants in Prince Rupert in August 2020. Previously the couple held the positions in Williams Lake. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Heart of our city – New pastors want to journey along side

Dawn Butt and Geoff Butt are the new Prince Rupert Salvation Army Officers

Dawn Butt and her husband Geoff Butt put their faith first that by moving to the sight-unseen North Coast they would be able to call Prince Rupert ‘home’.

The couple, who are both ordained pastors, slipped quietly into Prince Rupert during COVID-19 to take up the church leadership at the Salvation Army. Accompanying them in the August move from Williams Lake, came their two children and their two dogs.

Dedication to the Salvation Army and helping others runs through their bloodlines with both Dawn and Geoff growing up with parents who were Salvation Army officers. Dawn can go one further as a third-generation Army officer, her grandparents were travelling missionaries with the S.A. spending some time in Northern B.C.

Many people know the Salvation Army for its work running the food bank, the soup kitchen, or for emergency situations, but there is much more to the organization.

“As Salvation Army officers you wear different hats,” said Geoff. “There are times when you are being an executive director of social services. There are times when you are the manager of a store, and there are times when you are ministering. There are times when you are just a jack-of-all-trades, like soup maker, janitor. We fill in where there are gaps and that’s what always makes it interesting.”

“There is never a day that is like another day,” Dawn said. “You can go in with a plan, but that plan is not going to stay the same.”

READ MORE: Heart of Our City – Krysta Ostrom

“Things happen. There are things that we can help with, people that have concerns or troubles in life — we want to help,” Geoff said while acknowledging that there are sometimes limitations in that as well with people needing to do some work themselves, like with addiction issues.

“I can hold the door open for you, but you have to walk through the door yourself. I can’t change your life for you. Everyone has to do the work. It’s the same thing with the food bank. We can help with groceries, but we are not a grocery store … We have things to help because we know it is hard sometimes. We look to help but not do it for you,” Geoff said.

“We like to walk alongside,” Dawn said.”We journey with people.”

“We take you as you are in this church. We are not a church about people who are put together. We are a church of people who know they are not. We all have our own personal struggles and that is what a church should be about — a place where you lift each other up and recharge for the week to come. That’s what we aim for,” Geoff said.

Dawn said that even their own journey to becoming pastors was not an easy journey. She said it took them a long time with a lot of ups and downs.

“We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I know some people like to hold their pastors on a higher pedestal, but we are just human,” she said.

Geoff joked that Dawn has a favourite shirt which says “World’s OKest Pastor”. Dawn said she wore it in a sermon once to illustrate what brings people joy.

“What brings me joy is knowing that I’m OK. I don’t have to be perfect in God’s eyes. I am the OKest. I am the world’s OKest pastor and that brings me joy. It brought me joy that the shirt made people laugh. It makes people realize that I am just average, like everyone else. Pastors are just like everybody else. Our family is just normal people.”

As pastors with the Salvation Army, they can say when they want to move but are not often given a choice where to go. They let the church know they were good to move, but they wanted to stay in B.C. In April, they were offered the Prince Rupert opportunity.

“The kids were really excited. They were up for a new adventure. Our daughter likes to say ‘as long as the four of us are together, it doesn’t matter.’ It’s a good feeling,” Dawn said.

The family has done some exploring since being here and has hiked some trails with their New Foundland dog and their lab mix, which was an SPCA rescue.

Geoff is originally from New Foundland and loves being on the coast near the water. Dawn hails from Ontario, the Prairies, and Alberta.

“Being down on the waterfront and smelling the saltwater and the kelp takes me back to my childhood,” said Geoff.

Both Geoff and Dawn hope to progress the Salvation Army church and want to streamline the community programs in Prince Rupert. COVID-19 has thrown a few challenges their way, like virtual church services and the planned renovations to the interior of the church which have been put on hold due to the pandemic

“Sometimes adversity forces change,” Geoff said. “We are going to get through it.”

READ MORE: Heart of our city – Fighting for the road to recovery

“We want to get to know people and journey with them. If that means just sitting and listening, then that’s what I’ll do,” Dawn said.

“We are not here for our own glory. We want to serve people. We want to love on this community and just make some positive change. We are not here to transform Prince Rupert through the Salvation Army,” Geoff said. “We understand that maybe the way we do things, and as we build on what the Sylvie’s and previous officers did, then maybe we can make things a little bit better. We want realistic goals. We will do the best we can to nurture and build people. Emotionally and spiritually we can help them.”

“When we see dignity restored in people, we are inspired by a message of love,” Dawn said. “Just like with anywhere the S.A sends us. We want to make connections out in the community. We want to make Prince Rupert home.”

K-J Millar | Journalist
Send K-J email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A water quality advisory has been issued for the City of Rupert on Oct. 31. (File photo)
Water Quality Advisory issued for City of Prince Rupert

Heavy rainfall contributes to high turbidity levels

Prince Rupert Regional Airport Manager Rick Leach said on Oct. 29 that small community airports, like YPR, need a government cash infusion to survive COVID-19. (Northern View file photo)
Failure of Government and airlines leave regional and community airports on the brink of financial collapse

Govt. cash infusion is needed for smaller airports, like Prince Rupert, to survive COVID-19 - RCAC

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have affected the Prince Rupert community the week of Oct. 29 with a Shoppers Drug Mart employee and an S.D. 52 staff or student being infected with the virus. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 infects Prince Rupert school district individual

S.D. 52 is prepared for COVID-19 and is working under Northern Health protocols - Sandy Pond

Masks are now compulsory at all Prince Rupert public facilities and the City reminds people to discard used masks in waste bins, a media release on Oct. 29 said. (Photo by K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Mandatory mask-wearing effective immediately at city public facilities

City of Prince Rupert makes masks compulsory to protect community health and safety

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read