Welcome to the The United Presbyterian Church of Blairsville, PA
There is a saying – “The church is not a clubhouse for saints, but rather a hospital for sinners.” This congregation is a gathering of people who know all too well the ways they have fallen short of what God desires of them. But so too, we know that being found in Christ we’re given a new beginning. It’s not about where we’ve been, it’s about where we’re going. Faith is a journey we share as we live it out together. We invite you to be a part of the journey, know we would be blessed by your presence along the way.
We take God’s Word seriously, believing it to be inspired, “God breathed”. We understand worship to be not only what we do when we gather in the sanctuary, but what we do every day to God’s glory. We see our lives as one continual response in gratitude of what God has entrusted to our care. We believe that we have been blessed to become a blessing, and serving others in love is the ministry to which Jesus has called each of us. As our mission statement declares, “We are a community of believers, called by God, led by the Holy Spirit to know Christ and make Christ known.”
No one is too good to stay out, and no one is too bad to come in. In the love we’ve been shown, we welcome you.
Sunday Worship Times
(Regular Schedule – Labor Day to Memorial Day)
Sunday School 9:45 a.m.
Worship Service 11:00 a.m.
(Summer Schedule – Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Sunday School in recess
Worship Service 10:00 a.m.
2017 Communion Schedule (*evening services)
January 8 – Baptism of Our Lord Sunday
*March 1 – Ash Wednesday
March 19 ‐ Sunday
*April 13 – Seder
June 4 – Pentecost
August 6 ‐ Sunday
September 10 ‐ Sunday
October 1 ‐ Worldwide Communion Sunday
November 26 ‐ Christ the King Sunday
*December 24 ‐ Christmas Eve Worship
If parishioners are not able to come to Sunday morning worship and would like to receive communion in your home, please call the church office and arrangements can be made for the sacrament to be shared with you.
On any given Sunday morning, as you enter our sanctuary you will be greeted with a bright smile and a warm handshake. Gathered are people of varied ages and backgrounds who hold a common faith in Jesus Christ and share a common gratitude for the ways they have been blessed by God. Together we respond to what the Lord has been doing in our lives as we sing his praises, ponder his truth, give our thanks, seek his peace and share his goodness we’ve enjoyed. In that experience, though many – we become one, in faith, hope and service. Moving forward as a family of believers, we find that walls of separation fall away and bridges of healing rise up. In this place, you will find expressed the love, grace and mercy we have received, a reflection of God’s blessing offered to us in Christ. We are confident that here you would find a place that feels like home.
Parking areas are available around the church building, on the street and in our parking lot across Walnut Street. Those able to walk are asked to please park across the street in the lot so those with difficulty walking can park closer to the building.
As you walk through our doors, our greeters will welcome you and answer any questions you may have and assist you in whatever you may need before and during the worship service. Large print bulletins are available.
Sunday School runs from September through May. We have Preschool through Adult Classes. (Please note that preschool children must be potty trained).
The following activities occur annually. Specific dates will be listed on our calendar.
Egg‐Stravanganza Egg Hunt ‐ The Easter story is told, Easter crafts are made, snacks are provided, and then we have an Easter egg hunt.
Palm Sunday Procession With Pastor Tim – All the children of the church, whether they attend Sunday School or not, are invited to carry palms and process with the Pastor at the beginning of the service. At the end of the service, the children will distribute palms to the congregation as they leave.
￼Easter Morning Early Church Service ‐ The children will present the Easter Story with verse, props, and songs.
Vacation Bible School ‐ Bible School is generally scheduled for sometime in June and held in the evening from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. Children are not required to attend our church in order to participate in Bible School. A VBS fair is held following the VBS program on Sunday morning at the end of Bible School.
Sunday School Kick‐off Breakfast or Luncheon (September) – Everyone is welcome to come and see what we have to offer in our Sunday School classes for the upcoming year. This also includes all children and adults. Teachers will be introduced and the curriculum will be presented.
Christmas Eve Program – We have two services held on Christmas Eve. The early service is held at 7 pm and the children participate in this service.
Kids Day Out – (Usually held from 10 am to 4 pm). This event is held in December. Parents can bring their children to the church while they finish shopping, wrapping gifts, baking, etc. It also lets the children come together to spend the day hearing the Christmas story, doing some crafts, singing, playing games, and having lunch together.
Other activities and programs may occur throughout the year and will be announced when they are planned.
Separate Sunday School classes are available for teens in Middle School and teens in High School. They meet each Sunday morning from 9:45 – 10:45 a.m. (Sunday School classes are in recess from Memorial Day through Labor Day)
Youth participate in worship as audio and projector technicians, liturgists and greeters.
Confirmation Class “Faith Adventure” Field Trip includes an overnight stay in Pittsburgh with visits to Rodef Shalom Temple, St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, East Liberty Presbyterian Church and tour of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. A morning of working the soup kitchen and food pantry in East Liberty.
Participate in the Community Winter Retreat each January along with other youth groups from the area. Leadership and location varies year to year but it’s always a great time of fellowship with other youth of faith from the area.
We believe that music speaks to the heart and soul and that it is an important component in preparing to receive the message God has in store for us. We utilize traditional hymns during our worship service. However, the choir provides music that covers a variety of styles. We have an all volunteer choir and anyone is welcome to join. Traditionally, we present a Christmas Cantata each year, and have special music for Easter. Our choir also participates in community musical events and community services.
The choir is active except for the months of June, July and August when special music is provided by guest vocalists and instrumentalists.
Cindy Borbonus is our Director of Music and Marilyn Neal is our organist.
Although we do not have a formal children’s choir, the children meet during Sunday School to practice music in preparation for special occasions.
A Bell Choir was formed in 2012 and is under the direction of Vicky Westley.
We strive to be “a community of believers, called out by God, led by the Holy Spirit, to know Christ and make Christ known.” Our ministry is directed by what has been traditionally referred to as “the Six Great Ends of the ￼￼￼￼Church.” Our Christian walk and witness seek to be faithful to God’s claim on our lives and call to be disciples. Therein, we strive to be about:
- the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind.
We tell of the good news that Jesus Christ comes into our lives, offers us forgiveness for the sin that has separated us from God, and gives us a fresh start at living life his way.
- the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.
As children of God, we are brothers and sisters to each other – one family in the faith we share. That means we have the responsibility to care for each other. One cannot be content knowing that a neighbor is in need. So we reach out in tangible ways to make a difference in each other’s lives.
- the maintenance of divine worship.
While much of the world is so turned in on itself, it is not able to recognize God in our midst. As the church, we hold up and celebrate God’s activity in the world. Worship is a response to being blessed. There is opportunity to do that on Sunday morning, but even more we worship God by the ways we acknowledge him and live out his love throughout the week.
- the preservation of the truth.
For many, truth is subjective – defined by what seems good in their eyes, or feels right in their heart. But God’s truth is for greater than what we create in our imagination. The church is called to uphold the standards of God’s kingdom, to speak the power of God’s truth to a world that is bent on its own way. It means that when we hear the words, “thus says the Lord,” we heed and obey.
- the promotion of social righteousness.
Just as by the mercy of Jesus Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit we are invited into a right relationship with the Father, so we as the church are called to a “ministry of reconciliation.” That means that wherever things are not as God would have them be, we are about the work of seeking healing and restoration. Where human institutions hinder, we seek correction. Where people are treated unfairly, we seek justice. Where voices are silenced, we speak out. We take a stand where Jesus stands, even at our own peril, trusting God to work through us.
- the exhibition of heaven to the world.
The camp song goes, “and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” As the church, we want to give the world a glimpse of what heaven will be like. We seek to show the world what pure love looks like, what perfect peace feels like, and what true grace glows like. As Christians, we have a future of hope and we want to share that vision, offering it to all who believe.
“Ruling elders, together with teaching elders, exercise leadership, government, spiritual discernment, and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of a congregation as well as the whole church. When elected by the congregation, they shall serve faithfully as members of the Session.” G‐2.0301. The Session of the Blairsville congregation includes a total of twelve ruling elders. Four elders are elected each year to serve a three year term. Classes of ruling elders for the year 2016 include:
“The ministry of deacon as set forth in Scripture is one of compassion, witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures, or anyone in distress. Persons of spiritual character, honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly and sisterly love, sincere compassion, and sound judgment should be chosen for this ministry.” G‐2.0201
The Board of Deacons of the Blairsville congregation includes a total of fifteen deacons. Five deacons are elected each year to serve a three year term. Classes of deacons for the year 2016 include:
Get To Know The Presbyterian Church (USA)
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.
God comes to us in free and undeserved favor in the person of Jesus Christ who lived, died, and rose for us that we might belong to God and serve Christ in the world. Following Jesus, Presbyterians are engaged in the world and in seeking thoughtful solutions to the challenges of our time.
Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for us so that we might have eternal and abundant life in him. As Christ’s disciples, called to ministry in his name, we seek to continue his mission of teaching the truth, feeding the hungry, healing the broken, and welcoming strangers. God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, giving us the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to be Christ’s faithful disciples in the world.
For more information check out Presbyterian 101 at http://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/101/distinctives/
The Meaning of Membership and Baptism
In Jesus Christ, God calls people to faith and to membership in the Church, the body of Christ. Baptism is the visible sign of that call and claim on a human life and of entrance into the membership of the church. The baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God’s love claims people before they are able to respond in faith. The baptism of those who enter the covenant of membership upon their own profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior witnesses to the truth that God’s gift of grace calls forth a response of faithfulness. Thus, the triune God, incarnate in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, gives to the Church not only its mission but also its understanding of membership.
Entry into Membership
Persons may enter into active church membership in the following ways:
a. Public profession of faith, made after careful examination by the session in the meaning and responsibilities of membership; if not already baptized, the person making profession of faith shall be baptized;
b. Certificate of transfer, when a person is a member of another Christian church at the time of transfer;
c. Reaffirmation of faith, for persons previously baptized in the name of the triune God and having publicly professed their faith.
Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ’s mission. A faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved responsibly in the ministry of Christ’s Church.
Such involvement includes:
- proclaiming the good news in word and deed,
- taking part in the common life and worship of a congregation,
- lifting one another up in prayer, mutual concern, and active support,
- studying Scripture and the issues of Christian faith and life,
- supporting the ministry of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents,
- demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church,
- responding to God’s activity in the world through service to others,
- living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life,
- working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment,
- participating in the governing responsibilities of the church, and
- reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one’s membership, and considering ways in which one’s participation in the worship and service of the church may be increased and made more meaningful.”
When Two Churches Became One
As the Pilgrims and other European settlers who came to the “New World” brought with them many things to help them establish themselves in this new land, the settlers who left their homes to cross the Alleghenies, also brought along their faith traditions. So it was that the First Presbyterian Church was officially organized on September 11, 1822 by the Rev. Francis Herron of Pittsburgh. It was located 1 1⁄2 miles North East of the present town and was called the West Union Church. On October 11, 1822, this newly organized church, in connection with Salem church, presented a call to Redstone Presbyters for the pastoral services of Mr. Thomas Davis. On November 13, 1822 he was ordained and installed as minister over the two congregations. As Blairsville grew, Rev. Davis Became aware of the need for a worship service in Blairsville where he began conducting an evening service on the Sundays he preached at West Union in the morning. In 1828 steps were taken to build a Presbyterian Meeting House in Blairsville despite opposition in the West Union Church. To solve the problem, Rev. Davis purchased the West Union building and moved it to Blairsville. It was replaced ￼by a brick edifice in 1831 and the following year, at the request of the congregation, the name was changed to the First Presbyterian Church of Blairsville.
When his health began to fail, Rev. Davis secured the help of a young seminarian, George Hill. In 1840, Mr. Hill was called as co‐pastor with Rev. Davis. He was ordained and installed as co‐pastor on December 14, 1841. In 1848, following the death of Rev. Davis, Rev. Hill resigned the charge of Salem Church to give full‐time service the Blairsville Church. In 1850, The Rev. Dr. Hill established the Female Seminary which was then chartered as the Blairsville College for Women in 1893. His 54 years of service were greatly blessed. He established the Women’s Missionary Society in 1847, and in 1880 he began the task of building a new church, the present structure, which was dedicated in 1882. He became one of the outstanding men of the Presbyterian Church in Western Pennsylvania. His influence was felt throughout the community as well.
Another branch of Presbyterianism came to Blairsville also during this time frame. They organized a church, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Blairsville on December 16, 1833 with Rev. W. C. Weede as pastor. Services of worship for both congregations were held in the building of the First Presbyterian Church until this congregation was able to erect its first house of worship on the South East corner of Campbell and Walnut Streets. It was dedicated in 1840 under the pastorate of Rev. J. C. Fulton. Two subsequent church buildings followed on the same site until Calvin Church was razed in the 1970’s. A cornerstone was preserved and stands in a landscaped corner of the Shoemaker Funeral Home today.
A listing of pastoral leadership and details about the two churches can be found in volumes of history published by the Presbytery and found in our church library. At First Presbyterian Church, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. J. Norman Hunter, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops were organized. He also organized the Schubert Orchestra which was in demand both in church and civic affairs. The Centennial Celebration of the First Presbyterian Church was held during his tenure which lasted until 1930. The Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Stuart followed and during his pastorate, the 125th anniversary was marked by a membership of over 700 and a Sunday School of over 300. His successor was Rev. Lee Schaeffer who saw some major renovations of the sanctuary in 1963.
Due to a nation‐wide merger between the Associate and Associate Reformed Churched in 1858, Blairsville’s Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church became part of the United Presbyterian Church of North America and became known locally as the First United Presbyterian Church. In 1891, a seminarian, Rev. R. E. McClure, was called to serve this congregation. Ordained and installed on July 7, 1892, Dr. McClure’s subsequent ministry spanned 55 years from 1891 to 1946, the longest tenure of any pastor of the congregation. On December 13, 1920, an assassination attempt was made on the life of Dr. McClure as he was on his way home that night. A bullet fired at him lodged in the Bible he was carrying, thus saving his life. It was felt that the failed attempt was due to his efforts as a member of the Indiana County Anti‐Saloon League to close down the illegal liquor traffic in Blairsville.
In 1958, a two‐denominational merger on a national level brought together Presbyterias, USA (Northern), and United Presbyterians. Thus, Blairsville now had two churches of the United Presbyterian Church, USA. This resulted in the congregation of the First United Presbyterian Church changing its name to Calvin United Presbyterian Church in 1960. Both churches and congregations continued to serve the community under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Walter Weinhold at the First Church, and Rev. Edward J. Thompson at the Calvin Church. In 1969, a merger of the two congregations resulted in a single Presbyterian church in town named The United Presbyterian Church of Blairsville. Both pastors served for a period of time until resignation. Pulpit supplies were provided by the Presbytery until installation of Rev. Roger Petersen in 1974. During his pastorate, the Verdin 680 Carillon was installed on June 30, 1976 with the bells to peal for the first time on July 4th. The Sunday School wing was removed and the present education wing added. Again in 1993 and 1994, a major renovation of the sanctuary took place that replaced the two side aisles with one center aisle. New pews, floor covering, piano, podium, and sound system were installed. During his tenure, Rev. Petersen earned his Doctorate of Ministry. In 1975, the church participated in the Sesquicentennial Celebration held in Blairsville.
On June 30, 1995, after 21 years of service, the Rev. Dr. Roger D. Petersen retired. On October 15, 2000, the church conferred the title of Pastor Emeritus on him. Dr. Petersen currently resides in Blairsville and continues to be a member of our congregation attending services regularly.
Following Rev. Petersen’s retirement, the church was served by two interim pastors as well as two installed pastors.
Rev. Timothy R. Monroe was born and raised in York County, Pennsylvania. He received his BA in Religion and History from Grove City College, Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and has done Doctor of Ministry work at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He was ordained in June, 1982. His first call in ministry was to a mission redevelopment project with the Cherry Tree and Heilwood congregations from 1982 – 1988. That was followed by a sixteen and one‐half years of service as pastor of the Northern Indiana County Area Ministry (a cooperative ministry of the Gilgal, Plum Creek, Rayne, Rochester Mills, Rossiter and Washington Presbyterian Churches). In 2005, he was called to serve the Blairsville congregation as a designated pastor and continues this partnership.
Having lived in Indiana County since his ordination, Pastor Monroe has been active in a variety of community activities. He serves on the Board of the Indiana County Community Action Program, the Drug Free Community Coalition of Indiana, Armstrong and Clarion Counties, is a Governor’s Appointee to the Indiana County Dept. of Public Welfare, and is co‐chair of the Faith Team of the County’s Emergency Preparedness Response Team. Locally he serves as president of the Blairsville Ministerial Association, is a merit badge counselor for local Boy Scout troops and provides pastoral care when asked by emergency services. As a member of the Kiskiminetas Presbytery, he chairs the Nominating Committee, serves on the Diaconal Ministries Committee, the Permanent Judicial Commission, the Presbytery Cabinet as well as moderating the Sessions of congregations without a pastor. He and his wife Bobbi were married in 1990 and are blessed to serve Christ’s church together.
In 2010, a major renovation of our Fellowship Hall was completed and included a new kitchen and expansion of the second floor to add meeting rooms.
Today the United Presbyterian Church of Blairsville continues to be involved in foreign, national and local mission, Christian education, stewardship, evangelism, worship and social responsibility, and involvement through its various committees of the Session and Board of Deacons. It lives and works in a tradition of ecumenical and cooperative relationship with other churches. Sons and daughters of both the Calvin Church and the present United Presbyterian Church of Blairsville have become ministers, missionaries, and teachers in mission schools. Both churches, now one, have enjoyed a long history in Blairsville of working to serve the Lord.