SECOND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
This church was organized as the "Free Presbyterian Church of New
Castle," on the 15th day of February, 1851. In the Free Church
organization, it was connected with the Presbytery of Mahoning and the
Synod of Cincinnati. The Free Presbyterian Church owed its origin to the
agitation of the slavery question. As the Republican party was a
political, so the Free Church was a religious protest against the
iniquities of American slavery. As the early records of the church
plainly indicate, there was no little dissatisfaction among the
Presbyterians of New Castle with the decision of the Assembly of 1845,
"that slave-holding is no bar to communion." But when
President Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Bill, in September, 1850,
the attitude of Church and State towards the slave-holding power seemed
no longer tolerable. Opposition to slavery was greatly intensified.
Action was immediately taken looking to the organization of a Free
Church in New Castle, which object was accomplished only a few months
after the Fugitive Slave Bill became a law. Twenty-nine persons united
in the organization.
The growth of the church was quite moderate for
the two and one-half years following the organization.
Preaching services were held at irregular times
and in different places. In February, 1854, Rev. A.
B. Bradford accepted a call to this church, and his relations with
it continued (with the exception of one year, during which he was United
States consul in China), until the summer of 1867. During his ministration
a commodious church edifice was erected, and the membership increased to
near two hundred. The last important act of Mr. Bradford's administration
was the withdrawal of the congregation from the Free Church organization,
and its union with the New School branch of the Presbyterian Church.
Immediately after his resignation, the
congregation extended a call to Rev. W. T. Wylie,
of the Covenant Church of New Castle, organized by Rev.
Josiah Hutchman, in 1847, expecting him to bring his congregation
with him. This expectation was realized, and Mr. Wylie remained pastor of
the united congregations until September, 1869. In 1871 Rev.
B. M. Kerr accepted a call to this church, and was installed June
14 of that year. Mr. Kerr's pastorate was brief, but during his
administration this church passed through another change of ecclesiastical
relation in the union of the "Old" and "New School"
bodies. Thus, inside of twenty-five years, the original members of this
church had come back where they started from, and that without change in
their principles on the subject for which they went out from the "Old
Style" church. In the abolition of slavery their principles had been
justified before the world.
Mr. Kerr resigned his charge at the end of one
year and six months, leaving a membership of about two hundred. In about
one year from the date of his resignation, Rev. M. H. Calkins was
installed, in July, 1873. Under subsequent pastors this church continued
in earnest Christian work and has taken a prominent place among the
religious organizations of the city.
Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, 1908, pages 207-208