St. Clare’s Church exists today because in the early 1980s, a few Episcopalians in the Blairsville area stepped up to declare: “we need a church here.” As more people moved into the area and caught the fever, “we met, achieved recognition, and we grew.”
As the worshiping community began to grow, they were among the first groups in Blairsville to “Adopt a Mile” of highway as their own as a clean-up project, bringing recognition to the church community. Many friendships grew as members proudly picked up litter along the 515 Highway. Bake sales and yard sales were held to raise funds. As individuals, members participated in various community organizations and encouraged everyone to put Episcopal Church decals on their vehicles. The St. Clare’s community continued to grow.
After meeting in a vacant Methodist Church in the downtown area and later in another older unused church out of town, the members were delighted to hold services in the chapel on the campus of Young Harris College. With greater seating, folk masses were held frequently, with extended coffee hours after the services. During this time, interim priests traveled over the mountain to lead the congregation.
Now a mission of Grace Calvary of Clarksville, the congregation began to search for property to build their own church. The name St. Clare was chosen and approved. The mission statement of the newly formed church reflected St. Clare’s personal philosophy of serving and caring for others.
A parishioner deeded a house to the congregation, and the sale of that property and a loan from another member provided the seed money for the purchase of ten acres that is the church’s present location. The church subsequently leased two acres of that land to their very first outreach project, the Mountain Learning and Child Care Center that was being constructed at the same time the church was being built.
Several members of the new community were experienced with construction, and their expertise was instrumental in completing the new building. Bishop Frank Allen consecrated the debt-free church in May 1995, along with the first vicar, the Reverend Carter Maddox.
Following the retirement of the Reverend Maddox, the Reverend Susan H. Johnson accepted the call to be the first full-time rector in September 2000. Since then, the Memorial Garden and Mediation Walk have been completed, the paving of the parking lot is finished, and scenic landscaping completes the serene setting.
In March 2008, the Rev. Susan Johnson was called to be an associate rector of St. Catherine’s Church in Marietta, GA. The Rev. Tom Martin served as our interim rector from June 2008 through June 2009. Beginning in July 2009 through May 2010, the Rev. Dr. James K. Yeary guided St. Clare’s as interim rector.
On October 3, 2009, St. Clare’s celebrated its 25th Anniversary with the Rte. Rev. J. Neil Alexander officiating at the Holy Eucharist Service, followed by a catered luncheon attended by members of Grace Calvary, former rectors of St. Clare’s, and present and former parishioners.
The Rev. Frank F. Wilson was called to be our rector as of June 15, 2010, and retired December 1, 2014. The Rev. Paul Roberts then ably served as our interim priest until April 2015, when the Rev. Liz Schellingerhoudt was called to serve as our current priest.