Joel grew up on an Ohio farm, received his bachelor's Degree from his home town Mennonite college and then earned his Maser's Degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan.
He wrote numerous articles for Unity magazines and served as Editor for two years at Unity Headquarters. He produced a number of television programs which were viewed on local cable televison. He, with his wife, D'Etta, were co-ministers of Unity Center for Effective Living in Mesa, Arizona.
After serving his country in the Korean War and obtaining a Masters Degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Arts, in 1956 Joel experienced what was to be the beginning of his life's calling. While traveling through Montana he encountered Mary Wessel at the Black Butte Ranch. There he learned and studied the teachings of the Unity Movement and was called to Unity Village, Lee Summit, Missouri. Joel was ordained in 1960 by Lowell Fillmore in 1960, son of Unity founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore.
He spread his vision through Unity Churches in Detroit (with Eric Butterworth), Dayton, OH, Bellingham & Tacoma, WA, St. Louis, MO, Butte, Great Falls & Missoula, MT, before joining Unity of Mesa in 1975.
Note: in 1975 Joel changed the spelling of his last name from Boehr to Baehr to facilitate easier pronunciation.
After 37 years as the Senior Minister in Mesa, Joel retired on June 30, 2012. From 1995 - 1996 Joel served as President of the Association of Unity Churches (now Unity Worldwide Ministries) as well as two terms on the board and multiple ministry teams.