The 150th Anniversary of Union's Current Building
Well, you probably thought you had endured the last of my history lessons when we finished the Bicentennial in 2016. You would be wrong. Now we are working backwards. We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the construction of THIS building in 2019. Let me give you a little background and perspective on this event.
The year was 1865. In July of 1865 the US Secret Service was initiated. Unfortunately it was 3 months too late for Abraham Lincoln. Union Presbyterian Church was entering it's 50th year in the little stone building located in the parking lot across the road from where we are today.
Evangelist Johnathon Cross of Baltimore held a revival service at Union and received 135 people into membership on the spot by “confession of faith”. At the start of the Civil War, some members of Union had left and formed the “Free Presbyterian Church of Colerain” at Andrews Bridge because they felt the Presbyterian Church had not taken a strong enough stand against slavery. By 1867 many of these members started working their way back to Union. It was becoming increasingly clear that this large influx of new members would require a much larger building. Therefore, in 1867, 152 years ago, plans were started to build a new structure on the other (this) side of the road.
Calvin Stewart was the pastor at the time, having started in 1858, and would serve 32 years, the longest ever of any Union minister. He served as a delegate to The World Presbytery meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland The session and trustees of the time are many of the names we discussed during the 200th anniversary history lessons ; Hogg, Patterson, Morrison, Ferguson, Hastings and Holmes. It was under Reverend Stewarts leadership that Union constructed our second sanctuary, the bottom floor of this building.
The new building would be 85' X 55” with a 20 foot ceiling. This is the downstairs of the building we are in today. Construction would start in 1868. During 1868, two of Pennsylvania's most famous people would die, James Buchanan and Thaddeus Stevens. The new building would serve as the Sanctuary for 30 years until the construction and dedication of this room we are currently in, in 1899. This building was dedicated in August of 1869, 150 years ago.
I will wrap this up by giving you a historical perspective on how old the building is: Wyoming was still a territory. The golden spike in the transcontinental railroad would be driven later in 1869 and Jesse James was about to rob his first Bank !!!