Presbyterians turn 150 this Saturday

This Saturday, April 7, 2007, the 82 members of Tyrone Presbyterian Church will mark The 150th Anniversary Of Their Church, as they decorate The Chancel of their Gothic Sanctuary with flowers for the 9:15 and 10:30 Worship Services on The Morning Of Easter.
Exactly 150 years ago, on April 7 1857, eleven Pioneer Presbyterians held their first worship service in a two-story Log Cabin Building owned in those days by The United Brethren Church and still standing today, next to the railroad tracks on West Twelfth Street.
At that First Worship Service on 7 April 1857, with assistance from Reverend John Elliot, Presbyterian Evangelist O. O. McClean preached The Opening Sermon from this text by Saint Paul — “For I am determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified.”
During The Summer Of 1857, on a parcel of land at Logan Avenue and Thirteenth Street donated by The Lyon Shorb Company, these eleven Pioneer Presbyterians set to work building their first, two story Log Cabin Church, basically on the same site where the present Greystone Gothic Building stands.
This First Log Cabin Church of two floors cost Tyrone Presbyterians $3,500 to build. Unfortunately, the youthful church found itself unable to meet its building debt payments. Thankfully, The Lower Spruce Creek Presbyterian Church gave Tyrone a bequest of $625 so this new Tyrone Church could survive. As they struggled to survive, church diaries indicate that church members cleaned the church, built the fires, and rang the bell for worship.
After The Civil War passed, Tyrone Presbyterians organized a Sunday School in 1865, and by 1870, the eleven members had grown to 78. From 1870 to 1882, Dr. Samuel Moore of Alexandria, PA reluctantly served as Pastor and membership grew from 78 to 323.
In 1882, Tyrone Presbyterians razed their First Log Cabin Church and built their second building, a dark brick structure seating 600 people and costing $18,000. In 1891, under the leadership of Reverend John R. Davies, Presbyterians extended their building further up Logan Avenue, at a cost of $13,000. In 1895, Presbyterians erected the present stately brick parsonage behind The Second Extended Church Building at a cost of $5,000.
In 1899, Tyrone Presbyterians built a Chapel along Columbia Avenue that served as a Sunday School Mission until about 1954, when Grace Baptist Church purchased it. After World War I, in The 1920’s, Tyrone Presbyterians extended their Sunday School Mission work to Pemberton (just beyond Grier School), where they ministered to Irish, Italian, and Slovak Immigrants in Sunday Afternoon Meetings in a building loaned to them by A Birmingham Concrete Company. In the years after World War I, Tyrone Presbyterians also organized their first Daily Vacation Bible School for three weeks, at the start of each Summer.
By 1924 under the leadership of Dr. Francis Shunk Downs and Associate Pastor Horace Hoover of Birmingham, Tyrone Presbyterian Church had grown to a membership of over one thousand. Two years later in 1926, Local Presbyterians dedicated themselves to erect the present Greystone Gothic Building on the site of their first two buildings. After purchasing additional land from A. A. Smith for $13,000, church members directed The Martin Orr Company of Columbus, Ohio to build the present Greystone Gothic Edifice, seating 900 people (with Three Expansion Panels from The Sanctuary into The Sunday School Hallway) at a total cost of $200,000.
While they razed The Second Building and erected The Third Building, Tyrone Presbyterians conducted Sunday School in The Y.M.C.A. and Worship Services in The Wilson Theatre, where Burger King now stands. During the last week of April in 1928, church members conducted a week-long series of Church Dedication Events culminating in a Recital on The Moller Pipe Organ by Charles Heinroth of Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh.
During World War II, membership at Tyrone Presbyterian Church increased to about 1,400 people, under the dynamic leadership of Dr. James Renwick Jackson. From 1939 until 1944, Dr. Jackson distinguished himself by increasing church membership and at the same time decreasing debt on The 1928 Building.
From 1963 until 1971, Reverend Richard Giffen served Tyrone Presbyterians as their Pastor. During Pastor Giffen’s tenure, as it had done in years past, The Church expanded its Mission to The Community by instituting Meals On Wheels, Weekday Nursery School, Lenten Luncheons, Affordable Housing along Washington Avenue, as well as A Retired Person’s Advocate Group. For their 150th Celebration Worship Service on 22 July 2007, Tyrone Presbyterians have invited The 77-year old Richard Giffen to return from South Carolina to deliver The Anniversary Message on that Celebration Sunday.
150 years later in 2007, as they ponder a New Century Of Service in this Community, the 82 members of Tyrone Presbyterian Church keenly recognize the need to recover The Energy For Bible Study And The Evangelism Through Mission so characteristic of The Tyrone Presbyterian Church of earlier centuries. Presently, Retired Methodist Minister Norman Huff and Church Of The Brethren Pastor Mark Liller share The Sunday Morning Preaching Duties with Ten Ruling Elders managing the day to day challenges of The Church.
After 150 years of service to this Community, Tyrone Presbyterians still uphold The Gospel Message heard by their Pioneer Ancestors so many years ago: For we are determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified. As the 82 remaining Presbyterians look to The Future In Tyrone, they look also to this hymn by Fred Pratt Green to guide them on their Journey Of Faith: What changes, challenges, and tests The Church Of Christ survives / How rich the records left to us of dedicated lives / Still must this Church proclaim to all that now, and evermore / The House Of God is Open House, and Christ The Open Door.