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.
At home among others
Church believed that the study of snow could bring people and nations together. A touching example of his genuine love for people was his tradition of sending Christmas gifts to the children of Greenland, hosting an annual summer Greenland Picnic at his home for the children and parents of the Baptist church to which he belonged in order to raise funds (Reno’s ‘Greenland Picnic’, 1937).
Dr. Church at a meteorological conference, circa 1940. Dr. Church is the second man standing from left in the front row.
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.