Posts by Tim

A Statement by Religious Leaders in Iowa on Global Climate Change

A Statement by Religious Leaders in Iowa on Global Climate Change – April 2012

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing our world today, and as religious leaders representing diverse faith traditions we are called to reaffirm our commitment to be responsible stewards of Earth’s resources and to act in love toward our neighbors both locally and globally.

Scientists, including those representing 28 Iowa colleges and universities who recently released a statement, have warned us that changes in global climate patterns are bringing more extreme weather events to Iowa, the United States, and our world. These events include droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, storm surges, and wildfires. These changes threaten our environment, our health and safety, our economy, our agriculture, and our security. They also raise fundamental questions of justice and fairness, as those who are least able to adapt to climate change and who contribute least to the problem are likely to suffer the worst consequences.

As people of faith, we are called to take responsible precautionary action to limit global climate change to the fullest extent possible and to prepare now for the climate impacts that are unavoidable. There are many actions that can be taken by individuals, families, congregations, businesses, local communities, and the state to reduce the threat of global climate change, such as reducing energy use in our homes and vehicles and using renewable energy sources. We urge Iowans to take such actions.

The global nature of the problem, however, means that effective action requires leadership at the local, state, and national levels to form policies and strategies that address responsible energy use to ensure that we protect Earth and its most vulnerable populations from the significant threats posed by global climate change. We call upon people of faith to provide leadership on this issue and act in the interest of the common good.


Bishop Martin Amos Bishop of Davenport Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport
Rev. Michael Burk, Ph.D. Bishop, Southeastern Iowa Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Tim Button-Harrison Northern Plains District Executive Church of the Brethren
Bishop Michael Last Bishop, Western Iowa Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Larry M. McGuire Quorum Four President of Seventy Community of Christ
Bishop Richard Pates Bishop of Des Moines Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines
Rev. Dr. Rich Pleva Iowa Conference Minister United Church of Christ
Bishop Alan Scarfe Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. William Spangler-Dunning Regional Minister and President for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Upper Midwest
Bishop Julius C. Trimble Resident Bishop Iowa Area of the United Methodist Church

Rev. Anna Blaedel Grace United Methodist Church Des Moines
Rev. John M. Caldwell First United Methodist Church Decorah
Rev. Brian Carter Simpson United Methodist Church Des Moines
Sister Janice Cebula, OSF President Sisters of St. Francis Clinton
Rev. Dick Clark Walnut Hills United Methodist Church Urbandale
Rev. Kathleen Clark United Methodist Clergy, Retired Des Moines
Jim Cottingham, Clerk West Branch Monthly Meeting of Friends (Conservative)
Rev. Robert Dean Broadway United Methodist Church Council Bluffs
Rabbi Steven Edelman-Blank Tifereth Israel Synagogue Des Moines
Rev. David Glenn-Burns UNI Wesley Foundation Cedar Falls
Rev. Chet Guinn United Methodist Clergy, Retired Des Moines
Rev. Eric Guy Leadership Development Minister The United Methodist Church in Iowa
Rev. Susan Guy Executive Director Iowa Interfaith Power & Light
Rev. Marilyn Henrichs United Methodist Clergy, Retired Des Moines
Rev. Dr. Steven M. Jacobsen Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Retired
Dick Janson Unitarian Universalist Decorah
Jeanette Kopel, CHM Catholic Sister Davenport
Ellen B. Macdonald Chair, Board of Trustees Northeast Iowa Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Dr. James B. Martin-Schramm Professor of Religion, Luther College Board Chair, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light
Rev. Diane McClanahan Trinity United Methodist Church Des Moines
Rev. Jack L. Mithelman Redeemer Lutheran Church (ELCA) Indianola
Rev. Liane Nichols St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Cedar Falls
Rev. Gary Nims Immanuel United Methodist Church Des Moines
Rev. Jonathan C. Page Ames United Church of Christ
Joy Peterson, PBVM Promoter of Peace and Justice Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters Dubuque
Mary Rehmann, CHM President Congregation of the Humility of Mary Davenport
Rev. Dr. Sarah Rohret Calvary UMC Arnolds Park
Rev. Lisa Ross Thedens Co-moderator of Peacemaking Task Force East Iowa Presbytery
The Rev. Dr. Barbara Schlachter Episcopal Priest, Retired Iowa City
The Rev. Mel Schlachter Trinity Episcopal Church Iowa City
Sister Nancy Schreck, OSF Sisters of St. Francis Dubuque
Cantor Linda Shivers Tifereth Israel Synagogue Des Moines
Rev. David R. Shogren Aldersgate United Methodist Church Urbandale
Kent Simmonds, Clerk Decorah Friends Meeting Decorah
Sisters of the Presentation Leadership Team Dubuque
Pastor Karla Stoltzfus Detweiler Minister of Church Community Life First Mennonite Church
Rev. Hugh Stone Polk City United Methodist Church Polk City
Rev. Dr. David G. Swinton Grace United Methodist Church Des Moines
Rev. Gail Thiessen Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Marshalltown
David Vásquez Campus Pastor, Luther College Decorah
Rev. Benjamin Webb Episcopal Priest and Director Center for Regenerative Society
The Rev. Margaret Weiner Episcopal Diocese of Iowa Retired
Rev. Amy Zalk Larson Campus Pastor, Luther College Decorah
Sister Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM, President Sister Mira Mosle, BVM, Vice-president Sister Teri Hadro, BVM, Vice-president Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Dubuque

*The listing of faith community names is for identification purposes only.

Where Differing Cultures Meet

Tim Button-Harrison, Northern Plains District Executive, Church of the Brethren

The eye cannot say to the hand,”I have no need of you,” 

nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

1 Corinthians 12:21

The Church of the Brethren, my religious tribe, which I sometimes refer to as being kind of like liberal Amish, has a bit of an heirloom streak – an impulse to restore and preserve what is believed to be a more perfect past.  In contrast, my theology and view of scripture and the church has become more hybrid or mixed in nature.  I now see God working not so much at the center of groups, where sameness and familiarity tends to rule, but more on the edges of groups, or even in the space between, where different kinds of persons and cultures meet.

I grew up in a racially mixed family in, otherwise, all white Grundy County, Iowa.  The derogatory and racist comments I heard as a child, from the mid 1960s, about my Korea-born brother and sister, cured me of any purity streak I might have entertained.  Then, as a young adult, I, from a long line of Brethren farmers and preachers, fell in love not with a Brethren woman, but a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) woman.  But curiously, when I told my mother this woman’s name and her parent’s names, all my mother said was, “That’s very interesting.”  And when Mary Jane told her dad the same, his response was an identical, “That’s very interesting.”  Then we discovered her dad and my mom, over several years, and unbeknownst to us, had been meeting on a regular basis in Des Moines, respectively as the Church of the Brethren and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) representatives on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Inter-Church Forum.

I have experienced the awful distortions of God and scripture and church when one group says to another “I have no need of you.”  But where strangers become brothers and sisters and where a new family is created from different backgrounds, there I see wonder and beauty and hope for the future.

 This personal reflection was shared on March 20, 2012 at the Ankeny Forum, an ecumenical gathering of Central Iowa ministers at Resurrection Lutheran Church, Ankeny Iowa.

District Newsletter – June 29, 2011