Grant Butler

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Grant A. Butler (20th Century)

Writing about his leadership of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, church historian Dwight Saunders wrote about Butler, who led the society from 1941 to 1948,

  • The active involvement of the church in concerns of the community was particularly evident during the trying times of both world wars. In World War I, thousands of soldiers were stationed at Camp Dodge near Des Moines. The church opened its building for the entertainment of servicemen, and church volunteers staffed the facility.
  • Curtis W. Reese was minister at the time. In 1917, he delivered a sermon, "A Democratic View of Religion," that became instrumental in the formative stages of the Humanist movement in the United States. When the American Humanist organization was formed in 1941, he became its first president.
  • The Des Moines church also was active in providing relief for the suffering people of Europe following World War II. Under the tireless leadership of then-minister Grant A. Butler and his wife, Calla, the Des Moines church stood second only to All Saints Church of Washington, D.C., of all Unitarian societies in the United States for contributions to the Unitarian Service Committee's effort for help to Europe.


Following is correspondence from Butler, when as a member of the Unitarian Church of the Larger Fellowship he reviewed books in the 1950s for for Warren Allen Smith, then the book review editor of The Humanist and presently a member of the Des Moines church: