The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 3, 2013

Presbyterian church marks 100 years

Tom Lavis

JOHNSTOWN — The third and present home of First Presbyterian Church at 309 Lincoln St. is marking the 100th anniversary of its dedication, which occurred May 13, 1913.

Members will celebrate the occasion with a worship service at 10:45 a.m. Sunday.

“The service will be a regular Sunday service with the addition of the recognition of longtime members and church leaders, as well as a Communion service,” said church member Janet Pudliner. “Invitations to members of the Bethany, Moxham and Westmont Presbyterian churches have been extended to attend the service.”

First Presbyterian was constructed from 1911 to 1913 at Lincoln and Walnut streets for $120,000, excluding the cost of the ground and furnishings.

Members and guests are welcome to attend a social hour in the church social room after the service.

“We also will have a display of memorabilia from the early church through 2013,” Pudliner said.

Included will be a display of  athletic awards won by sports teams sponsored by the church.

First Presbyterian Church began as a Union Sabbath School in a building called Old Blackie at the end of Market Street on the banks of the Stonycreek River.

The first preaching by a Presbyterian minister in Johns­town was in 1830.

Johnstown Presbyterians applied to the presbytery for an organization on Oct. 14, 1832, and on Dec. 14, 1832, First Presbyterian Church began with 13 members and three elders.

In 1835, the first church building was erected on Main Street at a cost of $1,675.

In 1864, a second building made of brick was built on the site that later housed the Embassy Theater. During the Johnstown Flood of 1889, the church building withstood the devastating floodwaters and was used as a morgue for some time. All official church records were lost in the flood.

In 1951, an extensive church renovation program was carried out at the current building. A manse was purchased, the sanctuary was recarpeted, and the church’s heating system was converted to gas heat.

Funds for a new wall and landscaping around the building as well as a new women’s parlor were gifts from individuals.

Through the years, First Presbyterian has organized four other Presbyterian churches in the Johnstown area in its missionary outreach: Conemaugh Presbyterian in 1882, Westmont Presbyterian in 1894, and Bethany Presbyterian and Second Presbyterian in 1897.

Besides organizing the four local churches, First Presbyterian helped to start 14 other churches in Cambria, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.

The church also established the Cambria City Mission in 1930 and the Presbyterian Home in 1961.

What has come to be known as an annual Christmas gift to the community – First Presbyterian’s Festival of the Nativity – was first held in 1983.


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