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Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church


“SLIPPERY ROCK” PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH is the oldest organization in the township, and takes its name from Slippery Rock Creek, on the banks of which it held its first meetings, in Allen’s old grist mill, as early as 1800, and possibly before. The congregation was organized about 1800, and some of the original members were Jesse Bell, William Cairns and Nancy, his wife (of Shenango Township), Joseph Hennon and Margaret, his wife; William Cunningham and Mary, his wife; Jonathan Peppard and Elizabeth, his wife; Jacob Van Gorder and Margaret, his wife (Van Gorder and wife later, about 1806); Andrew Elliott and wife, and a few others.

The first official record of the existence of this church is found in the minutes of the first meeting of the Erie Presbytery, held in this region April 13, 1802. At this meeting of the Presbytery the church asked for supplies, and in 1803, united with Lower Neshannock, now New Castle, in selecting Rev. Alexander Cook as pastor. Mr. Cook had charge about six years.

The first elders of this church were Jesse Bell, William Cairns, Joseph Hennon and Jonathan Peppard. Isaac Cole and Andrew Elliott were ordained elders October. 25, 1812, and Donald MacGregor in May, 1818. These were the early elders only.

The second pastor of this congregation was Rev. Robert Sample, who had charge of the New Castle congregation as well. Some say he preached twenty-six years. He was ordained and installed April 10, 1811, and served until 1834, according to the history of Erie Presbytery. In 1838, after many discouragements for three years, they united with New Brighton, Beaver County, in support of Rev. Benjamin C. Critchlow, New Castle having by that time become able to support a minister alone. Mr. Critchlow was ordained and installed pastor of Slippery Rock and a New Brighton congregation September 5, 1838, and continued his pastorate for seven years. In 1845 he assumed charge of New Brighton alone, and Rev. James S. Henderson was ordained and installed pastor of Slippery Rock in October of that year. November 1, 1846, he began preaching one-half of his time at North Sewickley Church, in Beaver County.

Since the departure of Mr. Henderson the following have been regular pastors of the Slippery Rock Church for the length of time stated: Amos S. Billingsley, January 10, 1854, to January 11, 1865; Rev. B. S. Morton, February 21, 1866, to May 14, 1869; Rev. J. H. Aughey, December 26, 1870, to May 5, 1873; Rev. George S. Rice, October 19, 1874, to June, 1889; Rev. William G. Reagle, May 26, 1891, to April, 1893; Rev. Samuel Barber, January 23, 1894, to April, 1898, and Rev. Charles Bell, September 13, to the present time.

In the Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church, proper, the present membership is 250, and that of the Sabbath-school, 175; but a mission is conducted under the care of the church, with a membership of 100, and its Sabbath-school, 250. The mission reports through the church, which thus has a total membership of 350, and the Sabbath-school a membership of 425. The Sabbath-school was organized during Mr. Critchiow’s pastorate and has been conducted almost continuously since that time.

The church officers at the present are as follows: Rev. Charles Bell, moderator; W. C. Hennon, B. C. Shoemaker, Robert W. Grandy, William Wellhausen, James A. Brown and John W. Honk, elders; John M. Houk, Sabbath-school superintendent; E. E. Yoho, Y. P. S. C. E. president, and Mrs. Ellen G. Bell, president of the Women’s Missionary Society.

The first church built by the society was a log building, which stood a few rods north of the spot occupied by the present church. The log church was built about 1803, and stood on the Hugh Wilson farm. The old log church was used until the year 1825, when a frame building was erected just south of it. This church continued in use as such until a new and more commodious edifice was built in 1863, and was then removed. A parsonage was later built by the society for its pastor. On the territory once all tributary to Slippery Rock Church, there are now fourteen different organizations, yet with all this, and the colonies which have gone out from it and founded other congregations, the church has held its own well and is in a prosperous condition.

The cemetery near the church is an interesting spot, containing the remains of nearly all the pioneers in the region immediately surrounding it. It is located on the brow of the hill, in the rear of the church, and is shaded by forest trees on all sides. The first person buried in it was James Wilson, who was killed by the falling of a tree soon after his arrival here.

Twentieth Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, 1908, page 359-360



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