Man: International Ambassador of Goodwill

If Reno and Nevada – the United States, in fact – were to have an international ambassador of goodwill, Dr. Church would be the man.

Reno Evening Gazette

July 3, 1948

Drawing of Dr. Church in Greenland by Arla Knudsen, October 11, 1927.

Dr. Church’s international expedition notebooks show his ability to engender comradeship with his crew and colleagues in any part of the world. He invariably approached others with kindness, humor, and an equal footing. He questioned distinctions of class and race, frequently expressing bewilderment when he encountered them. To him, “all are human, all are brothers” (Greenland expedition diaries, preliminary trip, p. 42). He was at his happiest when working with diverse groups of people with a common goal. 

Church's international service

Dr. Church served with international meteorological organizations and kept up correspondence with a wide circle of colleagues, fostering international cooperation. After his visit to Europe in 1936, he was so touched by the friendliness he found that he stated in a radio broadcast, “Somehow it is always my fate to combine the human with the scientific, and in Europe this time the human came uppermost. Friends and kindnesses made the world seem like one. Even flags looked friendly” (Review, 1937, p.  140). On the same European trip, he fell ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized in Moscow for several weeks. He formed strong friendships with his nurses during his illness and developed a love for the “soul of Russia”, which he saw as full of humanity (European diary 4), on which he lectured widely upon his return home.

Dr. Church stated, at age 80, that someday he would write his autobiography and put this text on the title page: “I sought snow, and found peace and understanding among men” (Butterfield, 1950, p. 93). He sought snow and found it, but peace and understanding among men was the inestimable treasure he uncovered in the pursuit.

Works cited

Butterfield, R. (1950, January 28). Nevada’s fantastic snow man. Saturday Evening Post, 222:31, p. 25-93.

European diary 4: Moscow to Reno via Edinburgh, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_13_87.

Greenland expedition diaries, preliminary trip, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_13_1.

International ambassador. (1948, July 3). Reno Evening Gazette, p. 6.

Meteorological society group photo, copy 2, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_22_82_4.

Print of hand-drawn portrait of Dr. Church in Greenland by Arla Knudsen, James Edward Church Papers, NC96_22_72_30.

Reno’s ‘Greenland Picnic’ held by Baptist Sunday school. (1937, July 23). Reno Evening Gazette, p. 14.

[Review of International Snow, by J. E. Church]. (1937). Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 18(3), 140–142.