Author’s Note: Well, my blogging hiatus lasted a bit longer than expected — mostly due to a perhaps-too-relaxing holiday, my wife’s and my impending move, and a general lack of forethought. As though to add insult to injury, WordPress (the site that hosts this blog) tried to publish this post earlier in the week — before it was even finished! In any case, we’re back! Look forward to new posts starting next Monday. In the meantime, enjoy today’s Photo Friday.
Last week, my wife and I spent several days visiting friends in Buffalo, N.Y. We had a great time relaxing and catching up. Of course, my trip to western New York State wouldn’t have been complete without a brief detour to Clarence Center, the site of the only Brethren in Christ Church in the state (outside of New York City).
The Clarence Center church (later Ransom Creek Community Church) closed its doors in 2008. (The closing coincided with an unrelated but highly publicized plane crash in the community.) Today, the property houses the Epiphany United Church of Christ and two ministry centers; the Epiphany congregation purchased the site from the Susquehanna Conference of the Brethren in Christ Church in 2010.
For many years, the Clarence Center church produced or was home to many key denominational leaders. For instance, John and Nellie Hostetter and Paul and Lela Hostetler were two important pastoral couples at the church; denominational historian Carlton Wittlinger called the church home.
During our brief detour to Clarence Center, I was able to snap a couple of pictures of the church — all of which appear below, along with some historical images of the building and its former pastors.
After the jump: images of the Clarence Center church, past and present.
|The interior of the Clarence Center church, circa 1950s.||The interior of the former church building today. The space is presently used to house the Epiphany congregation’s B.L.E.S.S. Outreach Center.|
|A close-up shot of the front exterior of the old Clarence Center church sanctuary building. This entranceway was added to the 1877 church building in the early 1950s.||A side shot of the original Clarence Center church building shows the three stages of physical development: the middle section is the early church building, constructed in 1877; the rear section was added in 1951; the entrance section at front was built in 1954.|
|Brethren in Christ leaders stand outside the Clarence Center church during the 1953 General Conference (held in Canada). Left to right: Erwin Thomas; John Hostetter, then-pastor at Clarence Center; and unidentified.||This second building was added to the Clarence Center church’s campus in the 1960s. Today, it serves as the sanctuary for the Epiphany United Church of Christ, which purchased the property from the Brethren in Christ Church’s Susquehanna Conference in 2010.|
To learn more about the history of the Clarence Center church, see 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), chapters 3, 5-9, 11.