Charles Redden Butler Neto has been involved in GLBTQ activism since 1975 and Pagan activism since 1981. He moved to Washington, DC, hoping to get a job with the diplomatic corps and instead became a worker bee for the D.C. Parole Office. Then an advertising manager to old OUT Magazine (under Rad Bennett), a sign language interpreter for Metropolitan Community Church (DC & Northern Virginia), a member of the Washington Academy (Drag) and a founding member of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, DC. He is an activist religious scholar, ordained as a Witch, and Interfaith Minister, and working as a chaplain with various detention facilities.
He has been spiritually active in the Christian, Jewish, and Pagan communities since the early 1980s. He participated as a delegate and interpreter for Metropolitan Community Church during the March on Washington in 1978, making a quilt for his first lover, John, for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Being an early member of Bet Mishpachah Synagogue (GLBTQ Inclusive Synagogue) made him aware of the many varieties of spirituality and gave him an openness to new ideas. He became a part of the Washington Area Gay and Lesbian Interfaith Alliance presenting an interfaith service once a year. That organization has morphed into CenterFaith, now working out of the CENTER GLBTQAA community center.
In 1978 he also met Oscar Garcia-Vera (now deceased) who introduced him to Wicca as a Northern European indigenous faith. Oscar's working partner was Ingrid Dennison (also deceased) who had been trained in Estonian Witchcraft by her aunt who was a descendant of the blue people of the hills of Estonia (so a genuine fairy). Together his teachers taught a variant of Alexandrian (named after Alex Sanders) Witchcraft working out of Ravenwood Seminary in Atlanta. That study group lasted for about 5 years.
He founded his own coven in 1981. In 1987 he launched Ecumenicon, a religious education convention that welcomed teachers of every positive faith to come and share the principles of their faiths in an open, non-conversion colloquy. The fist year they were written up by Smithsonian Magazine and Ecumenicon was consulted on their Witchcraft series. Ecumenicon Fellowship (the organization founded to run the convention) was awarded one of the Points of Light programs under George H.W. Bush and continued to offer public service opportunities for young people until its dissolution in 2014 (some 37 years).
Ecumenicon welcomed teachers from Asatru (Norse), Buddhist (both Tibetan and Mahayana), Cherokee, Christian (Mystic, Protestant, Oriental Orthodox, Gnostic, Indian), Druid, Eclectic, Fairy, Humanist, Jewish (Kabbalistic and Orthodox), Muslim, Seneca, Umbanda, Voudoun, Unitarian, and Zoroastrian traditions.
In 2013, Charles received a headwashing as an Umbanda priest in Sao Paulo, Brazil, receiving the blessings of the daughters of Yemanja (for the spirits of water), and the sons of Ochossi (for the spirits of the land) and was sent back to the United States to found an American Umbanda, connecting to spiritual paths of all kinds in the United States, so he remains active in multiple faith communities at all times.
In 2014, Charles and 5 others founded Rising Sun Outreach Ministry, a circle of chaplains reaching out to "care for the caregiver" and minister as chaplains and healers in the greater Washington DC area. Father William (Skip) Koritzer (OSP) (now deceased), Chaplain Sandy Harris, M.Div. (Cherry Hill Seminary, INOVA), Rev. Pamela Griffith (retired), Mambo Fancy Butler (Voudoun), Rev. LuAnn Day (Educator) form the current board of directors (www.rising-sun-outreach-ministry).
Charles received his Master of Divinity degree from Howard University School of Divinity in 2017 graduating with honors. He uses that platform to continue in scholarship and volunteer ministry in the local detention system at Anne Arundel County Ordnance Road and Jennifer Road Detention Centers and by correspondence with prisoners in Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia, and chaplains all over the United States and Brazil. He was recently included in a feminist commentary on the Book of Proverbs as a Pagan scholar. (Wiisdom Commentary, Volume 25, Proverbs, Alice Ogden Bellis, Sarah Tanzer (Volume Editor), Barbara E. Reid, OP (General Editor), Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota,, (c) 2018, Order of Saint Benedict).
Charles received his Certificate in Education for College and University Faculty in 2017 from the Howard University School of Graduate Studies using SignWriting to educate hearing adults in American Sign Language and continues to be active in the sign language community. He interpreted for Pagan Pride at Dupont Circle in 2016.
Charles resides in Maryland with his wife Fancy and can be reached through www.rising-sun-outreach-ministry.org or www.butler-design-services.com.
(This biographical statement provided by Charles Butler Neto.)
Biography Date: December 2018