Butler's Covenant Presbyterian continues to reach out
Though the number of congregants at Butler's Covenant Presbyterian Church may be small, its commitment to reaching out to the community remains strong as it kicks off its bicentennial celebration Sunday, its pastor said.
“When we say, ‘All are welcome here,' we really mean all are welcome,” said the Rev. James E. Swanson, pastor of the church. “You can ask questions. Bring your minds to the church and also be fed good, solid preaching.”
The church is likely the oldest congregation in Butler County, according to a history account published in 1895. After establishing several prayer stations throughout Butler County in the early 1800s, the Rev. John McPherrin was installed pastor of the churches of Butler and Concord by the Presbytery of Erie on April 7, 1813, and began preaching at the Butler County Courthouse.
A stone meeting house was built in 1815, and the church was rebuilt in 1832, 1862 and enlarged in 1874. It was damaged three times by fires, Swanson said.
Visitors to the basement of the church can see some of the original hand-hewn beams used in the church construction, and the charring from one of the three fires.
Although the church at its height had about 1,200 members, it now has about 65 active members, and the average age of parishioners is the mid-70s. Swanson said that though the numbers are low, parishioners are generous to keep the doors open, and there have been members who have made bequests to help the church upon their deaths.
The church will host several activities throughout the year, including a Sunday celebration in which the Rev. Robert V. Mathias, a retired Presbyterian minister, will imitate McPherrin.
The church continues to offer programs to the community, Swanson said, including a food pantry and adult classes.
One pastor led a temperance movement, and evidence, including a crawlspace in the basement, makes the church believe it was a stop on the Underground Railroad, a network of routes and safe houses for escaping slaves before the Civil War.
For more information about the Covenant Presbyterian Church and its 200th birthday celebration, call 724-287-7731.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.