History

The history of Clen-Moore Presbyterian Church began more than 200 years ago, in a meeting tent near the Neshannock Creek. That’s where members of what was then the Associate Church met each week to worship God. The congregation met in that tent for five years, until John Carlisle Stewart purchased a lot on Beaver Street for $30.

The first church building on that lot was a log cabin, built in 1815. The congregation used the cabin for nearly twenty years. In this time, the church evolved into the Shenango Associate Church.

In the late 1840s, twelve members of the Shenango Associate Church prayerfully decided to form an Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation. They pledged $832 to build a new church. The deed for the new church was one of the first deeds registered in the newly formed Lawrence County. The new Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of New Castle was founded on Christmas Day, 1849. The new congregation was comprised of 35 people – 16 men and 19 women – and led by Rev. Dr. Robert Audley Brown.

In 1858, the national Associate Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church merged to form the United Presbyterian Church. From then on, the New Castle congregation became known as the First United Presbyterian Church.

By 1884, First U.P. Church had outgrown its existing church building. The congregation decided to build a new church, on North Jefferson Street. Members pledged $4,641 for the new building. The completed church cost $28,851 to finish, a princely sum in those days.

The First U.P. Church stood on Jefferson Street until New Year’s Eve, 1927, when a terrible fire reduced the great building to ashes and blackened bricks and stones. The fire was a shock to the congregation, but members rallied to start a new era in the church’s history. They decided to abandon their location in downtown New Castle and moved to the edge of town, on Clen-Moore Boulevard.

This move challenged the congregation in many ways. First came the challenge to spread God’s word in a new location in the city and beyond. Second, pledges had to be secured to finance a new church building. Those pledges were made – and kept, even during the depths of the Great Depression.  God’s new house was dedicated on May 18, 1930. But the greatest challenge came after the new church was built: the church had an auditorium to seat 700, and a church school wing that fit 650. How would they fill so many seats?

When Rev. Robert Mayo became pastor in 1948, he answered that question by challenging the congregation to reach 1,000 members by the next year. In that time, a record 107 new members were added to the rolls, and the church did indeed meet Rev. Mayo’s challenge. In fact, throughout Rev. Mayo’s tenure, the congregation grew to an astonishing 1,803 members.

In 1959, the church’s name changed yet again, when the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. merged with the United Presbyterian Church of North America. At that time, the newly formed United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. instructed all churches to drop the “number” from their names and choose a new name. Thus, the First United Presbyterian Church of New Castle became Clen-Moore United Presbyterian Church. (The name changed again, slightly, in 1983 when the Presbyterian Church U.S. reunited with the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., to form the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. At that time, Clen-Moore United Presbyterian Church became simply Clen-Moore Presbyterian Church.)

Because Rev. Mayo helped the church to grow in numbers, his successor, Rev. William J. Turner, needed to help the church grow in size. In 1963, construction began on a new wing for the church, called Ebenezer. The new wing was completed in 1969. The next year, Rev. Jack Heinshon was installed as pastor.

Rev. Heinshon continued the tradition of a strong, Christ-centered ministry. Part of his legacy, which continues at Clen-Moore to this day, is the annual community Christmas Dinner.

Rev. William J. Larkin became Clen-Moore’s 10th pastor in 1975. One of his first efforts was to pay off the church debt for Ebenezer. Another one of his ministries was a community outreach program called Prime Timers. This missionary outreach program was – and still is – open to seniors everywhere, not just Clen-Moore members.

In 1983, Rev. Velis Vais answered Clen-Moore’s call and began a pastorate which spanned the next two decades. During this time, Clen-Moore purchased McGill Elementary School next door and rechristened it the McGill Presbyterian Community Center, in cooperation with five other local Presbyterian churches.

Clen-Moore installed its 12th pastor in January of 2008. Rev. Chris Weichman has brought his gifts and talents to lead the congregation in a renewed direction, and we look forward to the great plans God has in store for us.