Alex Thornburg – Pastor

Reverend P. Alex Thornburg was baptized in a Presbyterian Church when his mother found out that Presbyterians love to dance. Ask Alex about that story. He grew up at Northminster Presbyterian church in a suburb of Dallas where he learned about God’s Grace from a community of faithful disciples. After going to college and getting a degree in Psychology and taking too many philosophy classes, this naturally led to bartending and then to seminary. Upon his graduation from Seminary, he served as the Associate Pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma for five years and then as a solo Pastor for First Presbyterian Church in Owasso, OK, for seven years. He returned to Stillwater to work on a PhD in Sociology. And no, he never finished his dissertation so don’t ask!

Pastor Alex then received a call to be Head of Staff for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin, and served amidst this beloved community for nine years. In September of 2015, Alex came to Heartland Presbyterian Church in Clive, Iowa. He is excited to be part of this community as they seek to be the Body of Christ in new and creative ways.

Pastor Alex is married to Dr. Teresa Bear, a licensed Psychologist. They are empty nesters (most of the time) with three grown children: Joseph Bailey and Noah Thornburg who live in Madison, WI, and Emma Thornburg who is a Kangaroo at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

Pastor Alex loves to read Science Fiction/Fantasy, secretly wishes he could be a Jedi Knight, and loves to hang out with his wife and friends. He has two dogs he spoils needlessly his wife claims. He likes to snow ski, lift weights, and just started doing Yoga. It is not pretty.

Check out Pastor Alex’s Ravin’ Rev Blog.

Peter Roberts – Music Director

DSCN2431.JPGPeter is a pianist, vocalist, composer, and improviser originally from Independence, IA.  He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with both a BA, minor in jazz studies, and MA in piano performance.  There he studied classical piano with Sean Botkin, jazz piano with Bob Washut, and jazz improvisation/composition with Chris Merz and Bob Washut. While studying he gave two recitals, played, recorded, and composed for the UNI Jazz Band One, and accompanied the choirs Concert Choral and UNI Singers. 

Peter brings a variety of musical influences to the music at Heartland.  His favorite jazz artist is pianist Brad Mehldau.  Keith Jarrett, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Johnny Hartman, and Craig Taborn are also artists that have influenced him greatly.  Peter’s most loved classical composers are Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Ralph Vaughn Williams, and Samuel Barber.  He has also enjoys the electronic music of Bjork, Imogen Heap, and Knower as well as the popular songs of Mumford and Sons, Incubus, and Paul Simon.  

Peter currently lives in Urbandale with his wife Joslyn, daughter Claire, and son Ellis.  They share the house with one dog and two cats (all rescued).  They like listing and dancing to music as a family, going to the library, feeding the birds (and squirrels), and playing Mario and Zelda on Nintendo.

Outside of Heartland, he is a staff accompanist at Drake University, a studio teacher at West Music Piano Gallery in Urbandale, a commissioned composer for Bel Canto Cedar Valley, and an active jazz performer and freelance accompanist in the Des Moines area.

Erica Button – Office Manager


Erica lives in  Urbandale with her husband Rob. They are empty nesters with three adult children : Nick (Jackie) who live in West Des Moines, Josh (Nazareth) who reside in Van Meter and Chelsea (Jake) who are currently in Columbus Heights, Minnesota.  Outside of the office, Erica enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, bicycling and cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes

One of Erica’s greatest joys is serving the Lord and others through her role as office manager. 

If you have any questions regarding the office her email is or you can call the office at 515-987-4246.


Ruling Elders

Class of 2019
Judy Bradshaw
Jeff Gumm
Dotta Hassman
Chris Schnucker
Class of 2020
Jim Finley
Gina Noga
Carol Ramsey
Luann Smith
Class of 2021
Diane Abell
Eden Pierson
Micah Raynor
Bud Walters