Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The histories of seven western communities and seven churches served by one minister help document the importance of Presbyterianism in western life between 1919 and 1952. H. Clare Welker became a Presbyterian minister in 1918 after having served seven years as a teacher, principal and superintendent in three western Nebraska school systems. School teaching and administration had provided good preparation for his future work in church management. His ministry took place in individually diverse western communities where the church occupied a dominant place. Issues that affected the community also had an impact on the church, and Welker actively took part in their resolution. His personal contacts with most residents of the community, even beyond the members of the church, characterized his open-arms ministry, and his pastoral care earned him wide acclaim from virtually everyone who knew him. Presbyterian congregations expected their minister to preach the Bible and minister to their needs, and Welker served well in both capacities. Yet, he also served the larger community by resisting the intimidation of the Ku Klux Klan in Sidney, Nebraska, by helping Japanese-American internees at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center near Powell, Wyoming, and by serving in a leadership role in many civic organizations. Within the church, Welker faced an apparent power struggle with the choir director in Brighton, Colorado, and a conflict with his officers over fund raising for an addition to the church in Loveland, Colorado. Despite these difficulties, he never failed to stand up for his beliefs. Wherever he settled, Welker found that even the smallest communities exhibited pride, and they ardently worked to attract commerce and new residents through Chautauquas, county fairs, school programs, and civic and fraternal organizations. Over the years, modern technology and changing societal norms gradually moved the small community's central focus away from the church toward other activities. New approaches in the church's theology and structure that had occurred by the mid-twentieth century presented great personal difficulty for Welker. These changes, he believed, represented a weakening of the Presbyterian heritage. This study presents a significant contribution to our historical knowledge because it portrays a man's life with great detail; it provides insight into the Presbyterian Church's day-to-day operations between 1919 and 1952; and it highlights the issues that confronted communities as well as public reactions to those matters.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of History and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1994 Patricia Ann Welker

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