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Closing the Doors on the Clarence Center Brethren in Christ Church

The Clarence Center (N.Y.) congregation, established in the 1800s, was closed two years ago. The building (seen here in a photo dating back to the 1950s) was recently sold to another religious organization. (Courtesy of the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives.)

For many years, the Clarence Center (N.Y.) Brethren in Christ Church served as a prominent congregation in the denomination. Numerous figures in denominational life — like historian Carlton Wittlinger and missionary Edith Miller — grew up in Clarence Center. John Hostetter, for many years editor of the Evangelical Visitor and a major figure in the mid-century reorganization of the denomination, served as the church’s pastor. The list could go on.

In 2008, the dwindling congregation was closed and the historic church building was put on the market. According to a news report filed last week, the building has now been sold to a United Church of Christ congregation currently meeting in nearby Amherst, N.Y. As the article notes, the Clarence Center campus “included a main chapel that dated back to the late 1800s and a second building that was constructed in the 1970s.”

For a brief history of the Clarence Center congregation during the ministry of John Hostetter, see chapters 3-11 of J. Norman Hostetter, Challenging Tradition, Finding a Ministry: John and Nellie Hostetter in the Brethren in Christ Church (Grantham, Pa.: Brethren in Christ Historical Society, 1998). This publication served as the August 1998 issue of Brethren in Christ History and Life.

One response to “Closing the Doors on the Clarence Center Brethren in Christ Church

  1. I spent my childhood attending the Clarence Center church. My dad, Paul Hostetler, became pastor following John Hostetter. I was dedicated & baptized there. It was a tight congregation. Former members are spread throughout the country. Every summer, there is a reunion of former members, held in Pennsylvania! For my family and all former members, it was a sad day when the church needed to close.

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