First Presbyterian Church of Bentleyville (EPC)
The Bentleyville Presbyterian Church was first organized as a Cumberland Presbyterian Church by the Rev. J. C. Momyer in the early 1860s. The Cumberland church was a branch of the Presbyterian family that grew out of the revivals of the early 1800s, commonly known as the Second Great Awakening. It split from the mainline denomination in 1810 over questions concerning the revivals and educational requirements for ministry (it commonly took ten years to train a Presbyterian pastor).
True to its revivalist roots, the Cumberland church established a reputation for evangelism well out of proportion to its small numbers in western Pennsylvania. Theologically, the Pennsylvania congregations were much more Calvinistic than their southern brethren, and when a reunion with the mainline Presbyterian Church USA was proposed in 1903 (based on the PCUSA version of the Westminster Confession of Faith) the plan was supported by all of the Cumberland churches in the area. Bentleyville joined the PCUSA in 1906.
During the first half of the twentieth century the church was served by a number of different pastors. The longest tenure by far belonged to Rev. A. T. Carr, who led the congregation for 23 years between 1917 and 1940. Dr. Alex N. Booth spent 44 years as Clerk of Session between 1890 and 1934.
On September 1, 1883, about twenty people raised $200 toward a building. The following month a meeting was called and plans were made for the building of the church. Rev. J. F. Silveus, pastor of the Coal Center Cumberland Presbyterian Church, visited the community frequently and quickly raised the money needed. The new building was completed March 30, 1884 at a cost of $1,300, and housed a congregation of seventy members.In September, 1950, the congregation voted to mortgage the church property at $20,000 in order to renovate the building. Church services were held in the Bentleyville High School auditorium during the remodeling. Seven years later, a major addition was made incorporating a manse and Sunday School rooms. Albert Celestine, a member of the church, served as construction engineer supervising both projects.
In the fall of 2013, the congregation was dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. For more than 130 years, our congregation has been serving God and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Bentleyville. We thank God for the opportunity he has given us, and pray that we might live up to our heritage.