Church History


CRAFTON UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

The Crafton United Presbyterian Church is a merged congregation of the First Presbyterian Church of Crafton and the Bradford Avenue United Presbyterian Church. The two congregations were united under the name of the Crafton United Presbyterian Church.

 

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF CRAFTON

It was during the 1870's that the churchgoing people of this community held church services in a schoolhouse recently built by order of the Chartiers Township School Board. The Reverend Phillip S. Jennings, Minister at the Mt. Pisgah Church, was desirous of establishing a "Mission" at the aforementioned schoolhouse. He preached at the school August 26, 1883, and afterward offered to continue each Sabbath afternoon during the year. This was to be combined with his obligation to Mt. Pisgah.

 

From the start the little schoolhouse was overcrowded every Sunday afternoon. A Building Committee was formed by those attending the Sunday afternoon services and a lot on Crafton Avenue was purchased from Mr. Charles Craft. The Church was built there and was dedicated on December 7, 1884. On February 4, 1885 a petition was signed by approximately 60 persons asking the Presbytery to organize the mission as a Church. A committee consisting of Reverend J. A. Duff of Carnegie, Reverend J. M. McJunkin of Oakdale and Reverend J. J. Deacom of Forest Grove was sent by the Presbytery on Thursday, February 26, 1885. After the election of three elders and one deacon the church was declared organized by the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. It was, by motion of the newly organized body that the name "First Presbyterian Church of Crafton" was adopted.

 

At a congregational meeting on September 6, 1885 Reverend Phillip S. Jennings was called as the first pastor of the new church. He was to serve on a halftime basis between the First Presbyterian Church of Crafton and the Mt. Pisgah Church.

 

From 1885 to 1899 the congregation grew and the small church building soon became inadequate. A committee of five men and five women was formed to institute a Building Fund for use in the erection of a new church. Reverend Miller resigned June 30, 1903 at which time Reverend Jesse C. Bruce began his ministry. For two months, September and October 1903, church services were held in the

auditorium of the Second Ward School, because the old church building was being moved to the rear of the property to make room for the new building which was dedicated October 7, 1906.

 

During the earlier part of the year Reverend Bruce had visited the St. Louis Exposition where he arranged the purchase of an Estey Organ. This purchase was made possible through the generosity of an unknown donor. 

 

Early talk of a merger of the First Presbyterian Church with the Bradford Avenue United Presbyterian Church was being heard in both churches in 1961. October 12, 1965 marked the Eightieth Anniversary of the founding of the First Presbyterian Church of Crafton.

 

FIRST UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF CRAFTON

Meetings were being held in the home of Mr. J. T. Montgomery in early 1905 and some interested Crafton residents felt the need of a public place to worship. On May 2, 1905 a petition was presented to the Monongahela Presbytery to establish a United Presbyterian Church in Crafton. During this time services were held in a room at the Crafton Municipal Building. It had been a public school building just a few years before. 

 

On June 4, 1905 the Reverend Theodore Littell led a worship service and the first midweek prayer meeting three days later. This group approached the Presbytery with petitions requesting funds from the Board of Missions. When the Board granted $600.00 per year aid, the way was clear for the establishment of the First United Presbyterian Church of Crafton. It was constituted on July 12, 1905 in the Municipal Hall with the Reverend R. E. Elliott of the Ninth United Presbyterian Church preaching. The Reverend W. R. Wilson and the session of his church in Carnegie were appointed as a provisional session to effect the organization of the church.

 

On land acquired in 1907 a chapel was erected late in 1908. The congregation planned to add a suitable auditorium to the chapel in the future. The location of the new building was on the back portion of the present site of the Crafton United Presbyterian Church. As noted earlier the church had been receiving a grant from the Board of Home Missions since 1905. By March 1911, the congregation was selfsupporting. During the celebration of the Fourteenth Anniversary of the founding Bradford Avenue Church, the congregation watched the burning of the mortgage papers. Dedication of a new auditorium took place from February 26 to 29, 1928. At this time the membership stood at 284 people

 

The name of the church was changed from First Presbyterian Church of Crafton to the Bradford Avenue United Presbyterian Church in 1958. The approval to merge the First Presbyterian Church of Crafton and the Bradford Avenue United Presbyterian Church took place in each of the churches on March 23, 1963. Officially the two churches merged in October 1966.

 

At the time, the Crafton Avenue Church building was sixty years old and the Bradford Avenue Church Building was thirty-eight years old. It was decided that the United Presbyterian Church would begin its new life in the Bradford Avenue Building. The manse on East Steuben Street, belonging to the Crafton Avenue Church would now be the manse of the continuing church.

 

Thus, sixtyone years after its founding as the First United Presbyterian Church, the Bradford Avenue Church ceased to exist as a single congregation. Crafton United Presbyterian Church has continued to flourish as a growing vibrant and active church.

 

CRAFTON UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

The Crafton Avenue Building became known as Westminster House and was used to carry on various Youth Programs. The Reverend Robert Montgomery came as Pastor of Education in 1969, who later resigned in 1972.

 

The Women's Association and Circles were formed in 1967. In 1979 the names of the circles were changed to Dorcas, Martha, Miriam, Esther and Ruth. Later the Ruth Circle was dropped and Sara formed inasmuch as it was a night group for the women who worked.

 

The Estey Organ in the Crafton Avenue Church was moved to its present location in the balcony of the current building. It was renovated and rededicated May 7, 1972. B. Franklin Shue II presented a recital at that time. Mr. Shue resigned as Organist on October 26, 1975.

 

During April and May 1980 we had the pleasure of a visit from Mrs. Naomi Valez of the Philippines. Her experience as a nurse, teacher and missionary made Naomi an interesting guest. Upon departure Mrs. Valez presented the church with a "Special Occasion" tablecloth, handmade in the Philippines.

 

In the pulpit area of the church are three needlepointcovered chairs, a Memorial to a departed member of the Women's Association. The women were instructed in how to do the handwork and many of the members completed this beautiful labor of love.

 

Early in 1984 a committee was organized to formulate plans for a Centennial Celebration of the founding of the church. During the past year preparations for the event in the form of painting and repairs had been well done by various members of the congregation. 

 

From 1984 through 1995, the church employed a seminary student each year as an assistant minister, during the school year. They worked mainly with our youth and assisted in the worship services weekly.

 

In the early 90s we took part in the denomination’s Bicentennial Fund drive. We pledged to 3 mission projects and our own organ renovation project. This enabled renovations and improvements to be made to our pipe organ.

 

In 1993 and 1994 we took part in a Synod project on church growth and creating a second worship service. We started a contemporary Sunday Evening service in April of 1994. The service featured guitars, drums, and a more casual style of worship. The attendance bounced up and down and we ended up revising the service to be informal with a mix of contemporary and traditional music. The musicians were volunteers and the service was led by lay leaders. During our interim period, we continued this service, with our interim pastor preaching twice a month, but it was eventually discontinued. 

 

 

 

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