Bridgeville United Methodist going strong since 1878
Much can happen to a church community that's more than a century old.
Bridgeville United Methodist Church's congregation has weathered the changes and still remains strong after its founding 140 years ago.
The Bridgeville-Fawcett communities initially were assigned the Rev. R.C. Wolf by the Pittsburgh Annual Methodist Conference to establish Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church, which originally had 12 charter members.
Services were held in the old Fryer School before they were transferred to the former Valley School on Millers Run Road.
By 1886, the growing congregation had purchased land at the corner of Hickory Grade Road and Millers Run Road in South Fayette Township and, upon building a new sanctuary, worshipped there until 1910.
The building, after being remodeled, was used as a place of worship by St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Parish, eventually merging with St. Agatha's Parish in Bridgeville in 1994 to become Holy Child Parish.
The St. Anthony's site was completely closed in 2007, later torn down in 2012, and is now the site of a Dunkin' Donuts and Washington Financial Bank.
Back in 1907, however, recognizing the need for a larger church, the congregation had purchased a lot on the corner of Chess and Station streets in Bridgeville, where a chapel was built and dedicated on Oct. 2, 1910.
At this point, the church changed its name to First Methodist Episcopal, and in 1939, it became First Methodist Church.
In 1946, land adjoining the church was purchased in hopes of expanding; however, the groundbreaking did not occur until 1954.
By May 15, 1955, the interior of the sanctuary had been remodeled to add additional seating. The building was extended in the rear, adding two extra floors to create classrooms for church school and other activities. A new parsonage was built next to the church in 1962.
Through the years, additional renovations have continued, such as the 1979 installation of glass entrance doors, the 1987 chairlift addition and the 1988 carpeting of the nursery and social room. The parsonage was also remodeled to be handicapped-accessible.
Hannah Loughman has been the pastor since April 2015. In July of that year, she also was appointed pastor of Houston First United Methodist Church in Houston, Washington County. Although the congregation is small, its members contribute to the local food bank, visit shut-ins, conduct Bible study and a meditation class, sponsor a Boy Scout troop and a mission family and have a prayer chain. Saturday Night Life, a contemporary worship service, has been conducted on Saturdays at 6 p.m. in the fellowship hall since it began in 1997.
Sunday morning traditional services in the sanctuary are at 9:15 a.m. followed by Adult Sunday School at 10:15 . The choir practices on Wednesday nights.
Recently the church has opened its doors to the Beloved Tribe, a nondenominational community that holds services in the church at 244 Station St. on Sundays at 11:15 a.m.
The two congregations are teaming up to host a series of community conversations at the church called “Listening to the Future.”
Topics will include “Mental Health and the Opioid Epidemic” on April 21, the “LGBTQ Community” on May 19, “Learning About Islam” on June 16, “Refugees/Immigrants” on Aug. 18, “Racism in America” on Sept. 15 and an open panel discussion on Oct. 20.
All conversations begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
Bridgeville United Methodist will host its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 4-7 p.m. April 14.
For more information about any event, visit bridgevilleumc.org or call the church office at 412-221-5577.
Charlotte Smith is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.