2022 Retiree Reflections

Barrie Tritle

I am deeply grateful for the privilege of being an itinerant preacher in the United Methodist Church, to have been able to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and to serve God’s people.  

I have been able to serve with God’s people in a variety of settings from a student appointment to being an Associate Pastor, pastor of small, medium, and large churches, and a District Superintendent.  I have worked on a variety of Conference and General Church Committees over the years and have made many wonderful friends along the way.  I have been able to travel to Heifer Project Ranch, Ghana, Red Bird Mission, Appalachia Service Project, Africa University, and the World Council of Churches in Geneva Switzerland.   

I have been blessed most of all in seeing lives transformed by grace as people have grown deeper in their relationship with Jesus and have gone further in their witness for Christ.  It has been my mission to build up the church family with care, kindness, and mercy, so that we could provide people a safe place to grow in their relationship with Jesus and to find their unique place to serve and witness for Christ in the world.  

“O Lord, help me to become master of myself that I might be servant of others.  Take my mind and think through it, take my lips and speak through them, and take my heart and set it on fire.  Amen.” 

May Jesus Be with you,
May Jesus be in you,
May Jesus Live through you!  Amen. 

Greg Clapper

It has been my privilege to serve in the UMC. Ordained Deacon in Northern Illinois and Elder in North Georgia, I began my full-time ministry as a faculty member at Westmar College, in Le Mars, Iowa. When Westmar lost its UMC affiliation I resigned from the faculty, transferred into the Iowa AC and was appointed Senior Pastor at Trinity in Waverly, Iowa--an absolute blessing! From there, I was called back into church-related higher education, and was appointed to serve in an endowed chair at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama.  From Huntingdon, I left to serve at the University of Indianapolis, from where I recently retired as a tenured full professor.  

As part of my service to the church, I authored five books in the fields of Wesley studies, spiritual formation, the nature of tragedy, and Christian vocation, and have had the privilege to lecture on those topics in many contexts around the world.   

Another expression of my ordination came when I answered God’s call to serve as a Chaplain in the Air National Guard. I started in Sioux City, Iowa, and shortly after I joined in 1989, United Flight 232 crashed. My ministry after the crash changed my life and I will remain forever thankful for the grace I experienced during that time. I went on to serve a total of 24 years as a UMC-endorsed ANG Chaplain which included five volunteer overseas deployments. 

I could not have fulfilled this calling without the support of my wife, Jody, and our two daughters, Laura and Jenna. Truly these precious people have been channels of God’s grace for me.

As John Wesley said "The best of all is, God is with us." I have experienced that, and I pray that all people come to know that transformative truth.

Kerrin Kirkpatrick

My call into ordained ministry has been what I eventually came to understand as a “Moses Call.” Educated in a secular profession that I loved, I had never considered anything even remotely connected to ordained ministry. It was surprising and even puzzling to find myself on the journey at all – I didn’t fit the image of what most people would expect for “pastor,” and I spent a lot of time arguing with God on that point. I think Moses found himself in the same boat. But God took the things that I thought didn’t fit, and used them to send me on a journey of surprises and unplanned adventures – a journey into the wilderness of what I believe is a watershed moment for the Church. Over the years, I have walked with individuals, families, and congregations through the confusion and chaos of our rapidly shifting American culture. I have watched the Kingdom of God be birthed into the lives of individuals and whole congregations in amazing ways. Now, I find myself at the edge of the Jordon River one last time, watching my current congregations prepare to begin their passage into a new Promised Land. And I am struck by the realization that as I have walked with others over the years, the Kingdom of God was also birthed in me in amazing ways. I, too, have been transformed on the journey. 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” - Romans 12:2

Nan Smith

I have been blessed through my work as a pastor.  I have had moments of witnessing the sacred movement of God’s Spirit in the lives of others and in the life of the church.

In my work, I have felt stretched and stretched a little more and have grown in unimaginable ways.  Thanks to all the people I have been in ministry with and thanks for all the opportunities and the people this journey has brought into my life.  

Now I retire.  I can’t wait to see what that offers!





Leila Disburg

I have enjoyed the variety of appointments I have had the opportunity to serve.  Everywhere people are different with varying traditions.  It has been insightful to experience different parts of Iowa as well as the Alaska Conference and the New England Conference.  I have learned about others and myself.

Ministry - like all relationships - is not easy.  Dealing with people who have different perspectives can be challenging but well worth the work.  I have found people want to be appreciated and loved. 

Mentoring new clergy has been rewarding and I hope to continue in that for a few more years.

In my ministry experience I have helped to build church buildings, close churches,  deal with churches in conflict, financially grow churches, celebrate milestone and many other experiences.  Each one has been a part of who I have become.

Thank you to all I have met along the way (clergy and laity) and blessings to those who are still working to bring glimpses of God's Kingdom here on earth.  I will be looking for my new ministry in retirement.

Jon Disburg

Serving God through being an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church has been a humbling privilege.  I've been blessed to be in ministry with congregations from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Iowa, to Anchorage, Alaska and back. Whether it was a charge with 4 rural churches or a downtown First church,  the mission of presenting the Gospel in ways that speak to these varying locations and contexts has always both spiritually energized and enriched me.  As I end this particular part of my faith and life journey, I am thankful.  I am thankful for gracious and forgiving congregations.  I am thankful for the Episcopal and Conference leadership in the 3 conferences in which I've served.  But, most of all, I'm thankful that God continued to pursue one who had avoided/denied  his call to pastoral ministry for nearly 10 years.  To that patient, persistent and gracious God I give whatever glory this moment holds.

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Peggy Ellingson

I think Robert Ludlum said it best,  “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape.”  Plans change. Things come up. Stuff happens…that’s just life…and when they do we can either get angry, upset or sad and allow it to ruin our day, or we can decide we are going to go with the flow and make the best of the situation even when it’s not what we had planned.

I have always been somewhat of a perfectionist, so I tend to plan things out meticulously, which in some ways has served me well because when I do something I give it 100% of my effort and I try to knock it out of the park. But there was a downside in that if things went wrong, I would focus on that one thing that didn’t go according to my perfectly laid plans and I would forget to appreciate everything that actually went right.

The older I get and longer I am in ministry, the more I’ve learned that allowing something or someone to ruin my day, just isn’t worth it. After all, getting upset rarely makes anything better, just the opposite in fact…it makes everything worse. I found that my life is so much better when I learned to be flexible and to go with the flow when plans have to change, rather than allowing things to bend me out of shape to the point I forget to be grateful for all that is right.
I think the secret to staying flexible in everyday life and in ministry is an attitude of gratitude and making the choice to believe that when we've done the very best we can and when plans go awry, we need to try to be grateful and have faith knowing that things will be ok!

Barbara Joy

It has been an honor to be part of the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church and to serve churches in this great state. I have served under several Bishops and numerous District Superintendents and have appreciated their encouragement and leadership. I was a city clerk/administrator for twenty years, and during that time, Rev. Consorcia Sanchez was appointed to my home church. God finds ways to help people hear His call, and I am convinced and grateful that He sent Pastor Sanchez to mentor, teach, and show me how to have a closer relationship with Jesus and how to grow in my faith. All this prompted me to answer God’s call into full-time ministry. The change of career and location has been a blessing. It has been a wonderful experience sharing God’s love with people I never would have met if I had stayed in state government work. I am retiring and moving to Texas, but I am sure God will show me how I can continue to serve Him wherever I am. It has been a joyful journey these past years. May God bless the United Methodist Church and all the people who are part of it. 

Anita Bane

I have appreciated being a part of and serving God through the United Methodist community these past 35 years. Of course, there has been good times and tough times, but the United Methodist church has been a steady grace-filled presence through it all. Words cannot express my appreciation for the way many United Methodists shared God's love with me. Many of the lay people had a depth of faith that was an example to grow toward. The children brought the most joy! I am also grateful for my own children who have been patient and understanding when I was busy and supportive when I was feeling stressed. I pray God's blessings upon The United Methodist Church.

Steve Hansen

I remember one of my professors (Rabbi Gordon, I believe) at Morningside telling about a neighbor whose son had decided to become a pastor. The neighbor asked, “How can that be? We’ve never had a pastor in our family.” The professor told him, “Sometimes God punishes a family by calling one of the children into the ministry.” That’s one theory anyway.  

I’ll probably think of all kinds of inspiring retirement reflections this July. But for now, I would give thanks for the people of the congregations and communities I’ve served— my student appointment at Salix; my seminary internship at Carthage and Burnside, Illinois;  Coin and Norwich, my first post-seminary appointment; Coon Rapids where I met my wife, Janet; Cedar Falls; Wesley and Grace in Mason City, and finally, Charles City. I’m so glad we got to share the discipleship journey together! The journey goes on…

Rebecca Campney Carver

Ministry has been a lifelong experience for me. I followed my dad, Rev. Art Campney, into ministry and have served in the conference for 37 years in parish and extension ministries. The 17 years that I was an endorsed Hospice Chaplain is the time that I treasure the most in my ministry, knowing that during that time, the people I cared for taught me more about faith, life, grief, death, and dying, than any class or seminar ever could. What a blessing.