Lower Claar Church of the Brethren
Ministries Upcoming Events News Our Pastor History Home

The history of the Claar Congregation, both Upper and Lower, begins with the coming of a young couple, Frederick and Christina (Walter) Claar to make their home in the rugged, forested area of northeastern Bedford County in the year 1800. Their homestead included the area where the Upper Claar Church, cemetery, and parsonage are now located.

Every fourth weekend, preachers from Yellow Creek in western Morrison's Cove came across the mountain to hold services with the Claars and their neighbors. Meetings were held in the barns in summers and houses in winter. Turns were taken by different families to host the service. They had no facilities for lovefeasts. If they wanted to attend a lovefeast, they walked across the mountain to Woodbury.

By 1851 there was a desire to erect a church building. Frederick and Christina donated the land on which was built a 26' x 36' church. It stood about where the parsonage is now located. In 1868, it was enlarged so that lovefeasts could be held.

Old Lower Claar ChurchIn 1886, the Claar Congregation was organized with 130 members. By 1891 they decided that they needed a more centrally located building which led to the building of the Lower Claar Church. It was used sometimes alternatively or for larger gatherings, but not everyone was in favor of moving, due to the fact that loved ones were buried in the nearby cemetery and that they liked worshipping in the same location. As a result, in 1892, a new building was built near to the location of the old church.

By 1916, it was decided to separate into two congregations. In 1903, the name of the church had been changed from German Baptist Brethren to Church of the Brethren. Under the leadership of James A. Sell, the two churches, Upper Claar and Lower Claar, were formed.

The land on which Lower Claar is located was donated by Catherine Duncan. Jacob Fries built the church at a cost of $3,100. Miss Duncan also gave $800 toward expenses. Our first Sunday School was organized in 1916 with 50 members. David Adams was our pastor from 1916-1920. Until 1956, we had visiting ministers from Juniata College, from Morrison's Cove, and from local areas. The minister and elder with the longest tenure was Rev. D. I. Pepple of Woodbury.

In 1957, we formed a yoked ministry with Upper Claar on a one-third, two-thirds basis. Pastors were Ralph Ebersole, Glenn O. Hassinger, A. Harrison Smith, Taylor L. Dively, and George Snyder.

We now have half-time pastors, the first being Mary Lou Hall, one of the first lady ministers in the area. We've also had Rev. John Keiper and Mary Lou Hall served a second term. In January 2007, we called John Winesickle to be our pastor.

Lower Claar Church TodayImprovements over the years have been a new basement, lavatories, electricity, vestibule, siding, central heating, new hymnals, a piano, and an organ. We have a Women's Fellowship Organization, a monthly meeting for children, and support for Camp Blue Diamond, Middle District, Morrison's Cove Home, the local food bank, Nigeria Rural Health, and the Brotherhood. Our active membership is in the high eighties.

We issue an invitation to come to worship with us when you so desire!