The first preaching in Beaver looking toward the organization of a Christian Church in that place was by Rev. O. A. Richards who was pastor of the Beaver Falls congregation. This was in the summer of 1896. Among the zealous workers who were determined to have an organization of this faith in Beaver was D. M. Llewellyn of Vanport, Penna. who was at that time a member of the church in Beaver Falls.
On July 28, 1897 Rev. H. W. Abberly, evangelist for the Western Penna. Christian Missionary Society, was secured to hold a meeting. A tent was pitched on Irwin Square directly west of where the Beaver Trust Building now stands, Rev. H. W. Abberly was assisted by Rev. O. A. Richards and Rev. W. H. Hanna, pastor at Carnegie. The meetings were so successful that on August 31, 1897 a congregation was organized for the worship of God according to the order and doctrine of the New Testament. A Board of trustees was chosen as were also two elders and three deacons, with a secretary and financial secretary.
By decree of the Common Pleas Court of Beaver County, Penna., made December 20, 1897, the church was chartered as a corporation under the name of “the First Christian Church of Beaver, Penna, “for the announced purpose of “the support of public worship according to the forms, principles, doctrines, and usages of the body of Christian worshippers known as “Disciples” or “Church of Christ.”
The Corporation was chartered for a perpetual existence and its first trustees of which there were to be five, elected annually on the first Wednesday of April each year, were as follows Anna C. Hurlburt, Amelia B. Tomlinson, Agnes B. Childs, John W. Myers, and Mary L. Craner, all of Beaver. The oversight and management of the church was given to the trustees.
The charter was prepared and presented by Wilson and Holt, Esqs., Attorneys and the degree signed by President Judge James Sharp Wilson.
About the time of the organization of the congregation, Rev. V. J. Rose of Kansas was called by the Western Penna. Christian Missionary Society to do evangelistic work in this field. Services were held in the Dawson Building directly opposite the Post Office. Rev. Rose was given charge of the work in Beaver beginning October 1, 1897. During his pastorate, through the zealous work of the ladies, a lot was purchased on the southeast corner of Iroquois Place and Otter Lane for the sum of $1,000.
Rev. J. K. Shellenberger of Minnesota was called as successor to Rev. Rose and remained until Nov. 1, 1898. During his pastorate Rev. J. A. Irwin held an evangelistic meeting which was so successful that it was decided to erect a tabernacle on the lot which had been purchased. The contract was let and in less than two weeks the building was completed. The building was 32 feet by 60 feet with robing room and baptistry lighted with gas and electricity and heated with gas.
On Dec. 1, 1898 Rev. Z. E. Bates was called from the Shady Avenue Church of Allegheny, Penna. He was pastor of the church for one year and ten months. During his pastorate there were 52 accessions to the church, making a membership of 140 with an enrollment of 150 in the Bible School, 50 in the Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society, 27 in the Junior C. E., 15 in the Christian Women’s Board of Missions, and a Ladies Aid Society which has done an effectual work.
Early in 1901 Rev. Bates was succeeded by Rev. W. H. Fields recently graduated from Bethany College. During his ministry the present church building was built at a cost of $21,000. The corner stone was laid Sunday, July 27, 1902 and the address on that occasion was delivered by Rev. J. M. Kelsey, a former President of Bethany College. The completed building was dedicated on Sunday, May 10, 1903. The principle dedicatory address in the morning was given by Rev. Z. T. Sweeney. The evening speaker was Dr. T. E. Cramblet, President of Bethany College.
The building committee that served during the building of the church consisted of the following: Mrs. John Childs, Mrs. A. K. Hurlburt, Mrs. J. W. Hum, Charles S. Stewart, and D. M. Llewellyn. The first Official Board elected by the newly organized church was: Elders: D. M. Llewellyn, and David May. Deacons: J. H. Wines, John Myers, and H. L. Bonnage. Treasurer: Grace M. Childs. Clerk: Mrs. A. B. Tomlinson. Financial Secretary: Mrs. Charles Stewart.
The young church struggled along under a mortgage for a number of years. After much prayer, sweat, and maybe some tears, all obligations were paid and at a fitting exercise the mortgage was burned Nov. 26, 1922. A second mortgage for $5,000 was placed on the church for repairs and improvements and this too was burned on June 15, 1930. During the pastorate of Rev. J. H. Craig, the part of the basement that is now the kitchen, Beginner’s room, and part of the dining room was excavated by the men of the church in the evenings. The ladies of the church met and served lunch to the workers.
On Sunday, November 27, 1932 the church celebrated its 35th Anniversary. This was during the ministry of Rev. H. Glenn Carpenter who had come to the church in 1927, as a young man just a few years out of Bethany College. He served the church until October 1, 1937; and it was while he was in our midst that he was married to Mary Lou Rose, one of the young ladies of the congregation. At present he is serving our church at Greensburg, Penna.
Information reprinted from our 75th Anniversary (1972)
At the time of the Fiftieth Anniversary celebration of the church, the pastor was Rev. Ben F. Leach. He was outstanding not only as our leader but in the town of Beaver as well. It was he who established joint Vacation Bible School for the youth. It was during his ministry and through his efforts, assisted by a few others, that the Tableau Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” was portrayed by the younger members of the church, on the Thursday night preceding Easter. Rev. Leach retired from the ministry on September 1, 1956.
During the latter part of Rev. Leach’s ministry, the church purchased two properties in back of the church on Wilson Ave. One is being rented and the other is being used as a parsonage. The Mix family was the first to use it as such.
Rev. Noel Mix succeeded Rev. Leach on November 18, 1956. He had served as pastor of the Christian Church in Merced, Calif. for several years. Rev. Mix terminated his ministry with us on June 9, 1959 going to Mt. Morris, Illinois.
Rev. James N. Rainey started his ministry with us on Feb. 2, 1960. He had served as pastor of the Bethel Park, PA. Christian Church. Midway in his pastorate, Jim suffered a stroke. By a valiant effort on his part he was able to carry on his work successfully. Early in 1966, his wife, Helen, underwent open-heart surgery and fully recovered, but near the close of the year she passed away with an incurable illness. Jim carried on courageously and on December 31, 1968, he closed his ministry with us. With the love and blessings of all he took up his present work with the First Christian Church in Scranton, PA.
During Rev. Rainey’s ministry in 1968, plans were made and contracts awarded for an addition to the church. The Educational Building is made up of modern class rooms, nursery, pastor’s study, church office, library and youth rooms. The cost was $93,000.
Our present minister, William G. Hughes, came from Bloomsburg, PA. Christian Church on April 13, 1969. At present he is very active with the youth. Through his efforts and inspiration three have enrolled in Johnson Bible College, preparing for Christian Service.
On May 10, 1970, a vote was taken to remove the congregation from the “Year Book of the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ).” We continue to maintain our independent status aligning ourselves with other independent Churches of Christ and Christian Churches.
our history since 1972
Rev. Hughes saw his son and wife’s mother immersed into Christ during his ministry. He remembers the progress of Jim Equels, Sr. who came like those in our heritage out of the ranks of denominationalism to become an elder and finally he was ordained as a preaching minister. Jim currently is serving as the minister for the Shenango Christian Church in New Castle, PA.
Following Rev. Hughes’ ten-year ministry was Clifford Schaub whose ministry was 13 plus years. Ministers R. C. Birge and Clifford Schaub ended up giving their lives as they both died during their ministries with the Beaver church. Minister Schaub and his wife Helen had been missionaries in Zaire, Africa before coming to Beaver. Helen continues to be an active member with the church. Minister Schaub was known for his quiet, unassuming manner, yet a great pastor and preacher. The Youth won a state banner at the Pennsylvania Teen Convention during his ministry. With the help of his son, Tim, the church had a seated-choir every Sunday and a strong music program.
After Rev. Schaub’s death in December of 1993, Bob O’Brien was called to be an interim pastor and is still remembered for his good work. There was a lack of stability in the position of pastor until Mark Litten and his family arrived on September 8, 1996.
Minister Litten helped the church grow from its average of 67 members attending when he arrived. There was an emphasis on “every member” ministry and gift inventories were given. Individual ministries were given more responsibility and authority. The church’s 100th anniversary was celebrated (1997) during Mark’s time with the church. Easter of 1998 saw 146 worshippers attending and praising God.
Minister Litten introduced contemporary-styled worship, missions began supporting an outreach in Pittsburgh to recovering homosexuals, a Vacation Bible School saw fifty children introduced to Christ; new signage was placed on the main street to direct people to the church, a website for the church was established, the Beaver Ministerium participated in pulpit exchanges and unity services; the church held a Neighborhood Block Party; and monthly youth activities helped meet the spiritual needs of many families.
In the summer of 2000 the Littens felt God’s call to the mission field, and the elders affirmed this by allowing them the gift of time to gather support. They began ministering to the people in England over three years ago now.
There have been “Timothies” sent out from First Christian Church such as Jeffrey Berkley, Sidney Kidd Bliss, Joseph Bodie, Brett Cartwright, Thomas Marsh, Lyle Mayne, Harry Messenger, David Swartz, and Jack Torp who have served as vocational Christian ministers for our Lord.
Minister Randy Bish started with the congregation June 16, 2002. He established a children’s church program called “Adventure Bay” and the room is still called that today. Randy felt called away from vocational ministry and left the church’s employ after a little over a year.
Gary L. Wackler, served as the Minister from February 1, 2004 to November 2010. During Gary Wackler’s leadership the church had a more active presence in the community with Gary acting as the President for the Beaver Area Ministerium, out reach to Friendship Ridge through annual worship services, and a presence in the annual Garrison days. Gary’s also lead to our presence on the Internet by encouraging the development of a web site. Minister Wackler left First Christian Church of Beaver to become the Minister for Draper Christian Church Eden NC.