The Church Forms
In 1886, the Presbyterian Sabbath School was organized under the sponsorship of the First Presbyterian Church of Johnstown. It was their desire to develop a Home Missions project that led them to become the "mother church". Mr. James Barron, an elder in the church and a Dr. Campbell Sheridan became the leaders in the organization of the school and in the erection of the Laurel Avenue Chapel. In February 1897, the chapel congregation decided to petition the Presbytery for permission to become a separate, self-supporting church organization. On April 29, 1897 permission was granted and the Laurel Avenue Presbyterian Church was officially organized with a membership of 131 persons. The first minister of the congregation was Rev. J.O.C. McCracken who was installed on June 29, 1897.
The Church Grows
Seeking better worship facilities, the new congregation authorized the construction of the present building in June 1902. The corner stone was laid in September 1902. The new church was dedicated in October 1903. The total cost of construction of the church was $18,000. The bell was donated by the First Presbyterian Church after the original church was destroyed in the 1889 Flood. The original organ, installed in 1903 was funded in part by a grant from Andrew Carnegie.
The Church gets its Current Name and Grows
In April 1914, the Congregation changed the name of the church to the Bethany Presbyterian Church because it was no longer located on Laurel Avenue.
(The original church Name is noted by a block on the Chandler Ave. side of the Building)
In 1942, the congregation purchased a 20 room apartment building on Blaine Street and developed plans to remodel the structure and convert it into a sabbath school facility. In 1953, work was started on the renovation of the building with the addition adding classrooms onto the growing school. The addition of the Christian Education Building added the memorial parlor, pastors office, secretary's office, and the chapel. Several renovation projects have occured including repairing the brick work, installing pulpits and altar, and the addition of the parking lot on the corner of Grape Avenue and Blaine Street in 1974.
The Church Today
The church today is not as big as it has been, but our members are just as close and we still come together in the same building that we have been since 1903. The building has received changes including fresh coats of paint and new carpeting, but it is still used for the same reason, to allow members to come and worship. Many members past and present helped to build the church, giving their devotion, forsight, and hard work as they contributed their best to the glory of god. Our most recent additions include a new roof and the prayer garden in the courtyard featuring benches, flowers, and memorial bricks.
Bethany Presbyterian Church
family, friendship, faith