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History of

Park United Presbyterian Church

By Mary I. Campbell

Park United Presbyterian Church of Beaver had its origin in 1853. Rev. John A. McGill, pastor of Four Mile Church 1851-1852, came to Beaver occasionally to conduct church services in the Court House. He resigned from Four Mile in 1853 to accept the principalship of the Beaver Academy for young men and the Beaver Female Seminary for young women. Rev. McGill purchased a two story brick building on the corner of Third and Beaver Streets which he enlarged to include a chapel, classrooms, and dormitory accomodations for the Academy. He preached for a time in this Chapel. The Seminary was on the corner of Third and Commerce Streets.

From three families living on the Tuscarawas Road, four or five familes living in Beaver, two in Bridgewater, and three in Rochester, the nucleus of a church congregation was formed and organized by Rev. McGill on August 1, 1853. There were usually from 60 to 75 persons attending each service, the ladies occupying the block on the right side and the men on the left side of the room.' The services were lengthy. The morning sermon was one hour and fifteen minutes long, then there was a period of one half hour for lunch. The afternoon service started right away and it lasted one hour. Rev. McGill was an exceptionally spiritual man who knew his Bible thoroughly and expected his parishoners to know it as well.

As a result of the formal ceremonies of union between the Associated Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church on May 26, 1858, in Pittsburgh, the United Presbyterian Church of North America was born and the Beaver Church received the official name of the First United Presbyterian Congregation of Beaver.

The first house of worship, a brick building on Third Street and Wilson Avenue, was erected at a cost of $3,000, and completed in the winter of 1861. This building later housed the Beaver Conservatory of Music and is now the Conservatory Apartments.

Perhaps the stormiest period in the history of this Church was during the pastorate of the Rev. William Harper, 1887 to 1892. Rev. Harper introduced an organ to aid in the musical service in as much as the General Assembly of the Church had authorized the use of an instrument where it was desired by a congregation. Innovations often meet with Opposition and this did. A few members left the Church.

The conduct of the Church members was always a matter of concern to the Session. Rev. Harper preached "complete cessation from all secular avocations, recreations, and amusements on the Sabbath Day, however lawful they may be on other days and it enjoins the consecration of the entire day to the worship of God and the services of religion, except so much of the day as is employed in works of necessity and mercy, i.e. extinguishing a fire in a burning building, relieving the suffering, and feeding the animals in ones possession."

In 1900 the membership was 230 and the pastor's salary was $1,200. At the dawn of this new century the congregation had outgrown its church building on Third Street. During Rev. Robert Miller's pastorate the present brown stone Church was erected. The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 16, 1904, and the building dedicated in Jan. 1906. The total cost including furnishings and organ was about $50,000.

During the post World War I period the church building became inadequate for our Sabbath School, consequently, in 1930, we began the erection of our Sabbath School or Educational Building. On Easter, April 5,1931, this building was dedicated. The total cost was $104,500. Dr. Charles D. Fulton, who served our Church as pastor for 27 years, was the minister. In 1932 through the untiring efforts of Dr. Fulton the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church met in our church. In 1940 when Dr. Fulton retired the membership was 824 and the Sunday School attendance was 667.

In May, 1941, the Rev. E. Marcellus Nesbitt was called as minister and Dr. Fulton was elected pastoremeritus. Dr. Nesbitt was not in Beaver long before the community as well as the congregation recognized his qualities of leadership. The Church's membership grew to 1520 - a tribute to Dr. Nesbitt's great pastoral leadership.

The carillon that plays every evening was dedicated in January, 1953. It consists of 25 English bell tones and 61 Flemish bell tones that are electronically magnified. Hearing these familiar hymns and songs hopefully reminds the listeners of God's love and promises.

After the merger of the Presbyterian Church of U.S.A. and the United Presbyterian Church of North America, on May 28, 1958, in Pittsburgh, Pa. our congregation voted to change the name of the church to PARK UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

When four properties adjoining the church became available in the60's, the Church decided to buy them for a parking lot and recreation area. The total cost of these purchases totalled approximately $75,000. Additional costs were added for the demolition, landscaping, paving, and pavilion. These changes have made the area much more attractive.

Dr. Nesbitt retired from active ministry in October, 1966, and the Rev. William C. Barger was called to serve as senior minister in Feb. 1968. During his ten years in Beaver, strong emphasis was put on lay leadership in the Church. For several years Convener Groups met monthly in member's homes for Bible study and fellowship. A strong youth program and a varied music program were very successful during the six years that Rev. W.C. (Dub) Koon served as Assistant Minister and Director of Music (1969-1975). Rev. Koon was also church organist and in 1972 a new Austin pipe organ was installed and the Sanctuary remodeled and refurbished at a cost of $75,000.

Presently serving as pastor is the Rev. Paul Wierman who came in August, 1979. Our new Assistant Pastor is the Rev. William Getman. We look forward with thanksgiving and confidence as these two fine ministers lead us in a closer walk with our God.

Park United Presbyterian Church

Corner Commerce and Corporation Streets