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Carnegie church marks 125 years; Bridgeville pastor celebrates 40 years

| Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, 1:30 a.m.
First Primitive Methodist Church of Carnegie
First Primitive Methodist Church of Carnegie
Rev. John Hamilton, pastor of Bethany Presbyterian in Bridgeville.
Rev. John Hamilton, pastor of Bethany Presbyterian in Bridgeville.

First Primitive Methodist Church of Carnegie recently celebrated its 125th anniversary and marked the 110th anniversary of the church structure at 640 Dow Ave.

Primitive Methodism began in England in the early 1800s in an attempt to restore the Methodist Revival begun under the ministry of John Wesley. In America, Methodist preachers invented a new form of Evangelism — the camp meeting — and, in 1840, the American Primitive Methodist Church was established.

The first pastor stationed at the Carnegie church was the Rev. John McGuinness. In May 1998, the current pastor, Daniel Pastorius, came to lead the small but active congregation.

Over the last century, the church building has undergone numerous renovations to make it more modern, including a gas furnace and fluorescent lighting, bathrooms, chimes, a baptismal font, Sunday school education classrooms, an organ, a piano and stained-glass windows. In 1985, the nursery was constructed and a youth ministry was started. A second story was recently added to the back of the church for use as a new social hall. A ramp and a two-person lift have been installed for ease of access to both the new social hall and the sanctuary. New handicap-accessible restrooms have also been added.

A recent outreach to the community was sponsored on Harvest Home Sunday. The congregation of 50 generously donated so that grocery store gift cards could be purchased and provided to those in need for Thanksgiving dinner. The church also contributes to the local Meals on Wheels, the Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and the Light of Life Mission. Its summer vacation Bible school donates to the Ronald McDonald House and a mission. Past missions have included donations of backpacks of school supplies to students and books, games and sundries to a local Inuit clinic in Alaska.

As Pastor Dan is known to say, “No one is ever a guest; once you enter our church you become family.”

Adult Sunday school is at 10 a.m. with worship at 11 a.m. Bible study is held at 7 p.m. Thursdays. They will be hosting a community Thanksgiving service on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. All are invited to attend.

Bethany's pastor celebrates 40 years

In 1977, John Hamilton was ordained in his home church in Lewistown, Pa. He then served at Polk and North Sandy churches near Franklin, Babcock Presbyterian in Baltimore, Md., and First Presbyterian in Rochelle, Ill.

He became pastor of Bethany Presbyterian, Bridgeville, roughly seven years ago. He has continued the many activities and ministries sponsored by the church, including its Bible study classes, junior and senior high youth groups, Food Bank, Golden Oldies, Upward Basketball, Bethany Preschool and vacation Bible school.

“This past summer, I was privileged to spend two weeks in Malawi in east Africa, serving and worshipping with our partner church there,” Hamilton said. “This is but one of many hands-on missions of Bethany near and far.”

His wife, Melany, also an ordained Presbyterian minister, is the interim associate pastor at Bethany. This is the first time they ever served at the same church. “It is a blessing to work together in that we can study Scriptures together and bounce ideas off one another as we work on sermons,” Hamilton said.

Charlotte Smith is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or

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