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A Reformed Witness in Southwest Iowa

28. October 2009

Columns, Congregation of the Month,

  

Location: Clarinda, Iowa

Presbytery: Midwest

Organized: 1855

Membership: 23 communicant; 7 baptized

Pastor: Jack Baumgardner

The Clarinda Reformed Presby­terian Church was organized in 1855 and consisted of 13 families. Settling on rolling prairie previously occupied by the Sac and Fox Indians, the pioneers chose land for farming along the Nodaway River south of Clarinda.

After initially meeting in homes for worship, the congregation erected a combined school and meeting house in 1856. The present building, erected in 1918, is the fifth on the beautiful hilltop located 4 miles from town. The congregation is the only Reformed work in the southwest quadrant of Iowa.

The first two ministers, Joseph McCracken and David McKee, were born in Ireland; since then there have been 14 ministers. During her early years the congregation was instrumental in sending out families to help start other works such as Sterling, Denison, Long Branch, Wahoo, Superior, and Winchester. Many Covenanter ministers and missionaries, with names such as Caskey, Edgar, McMillan, and Carson, have roots at Clarinda.

Sadly, there has been a gradual decline in numbers from a membership of well over 100 in her earlier years to 30 today. One reason is the demographic change from family farms to large-scale corporate farming. This has resulted in thousands of rural churches closing in recent years. ...

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