SCPC Celebrates 125 Years as a Congregation

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, SCPC celebrated the 125th year as a congregation.

Click here to view a video presentation share memories from these past 125 years. (Video produced by Jerry Sawyer)

Humble Beginnings

SCPC had very humble beginnings, being organized in 1890 with only 58 members who transferred to the tiny village of State College from Le- mont’s Spring Creek Church. Building at the corner of Locust Lane and College Avenue on donated land, the members established a Sabbath School, emphasizing Bible study, preaching and prayer meetings. The courage, sacrifice and vision of these few is beyond measure when you consider there was no borough organization, and there was a population of 150 with an additional 167 college students.

IMG_2099By 1912 SCPC had added a manse at East Beaver Avenue and Locust Lane and was ready to consider a new and larger edifice on two West Beaver Avenue lots. Known as “The Church Beside the Tower”, the handsome native limestone structure took form in the Gothic style. The Presbyterian Board of Education of the General Assembly, the Synod and the Presbytery all agreed to contribute funds for this building. In return they would charge this church to be responsible for the care of the Presbyterian students on the college campus. This student work was the first of its kind on any college campus. In 1922 the Rev. D. W. Carruthers began a 30–year ministry as Pastor-to-Students at SCPC .In 1990, attention was focused on the year-long Centennial Celebration for SCPC. This culminated in October in a procession of the congregation, choir, ministers and guests to Schwab Auditorium for a celebratory service and lunch.

Expanding

In 1938 plans were laid to add a religious education building to provide more Sunday School space and rooms for the student serving Westminster Foundation with Rev. Carruthers as its Director. This building was com- pleted in 1942. World War II found 136 of our members in the armed ser- vices and Red Cross, and our Pastor as a Chaplain in the Army Air Force. These were dark and difficult days, but when the war ended in 1945, the life of the Church picked up and expanded in all directions. At that point, SCPC had five international and three national missionaries, and 24 elders on Session, including five women. The church supported two camps, dis- tributed monthly newsletters, and sponsored Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. A new Women’s Association was also formed and the Deacons had 30 active members, including six women. Staff grew with the addition of a Christian Education Director, an Assistant Pastor and a second secretary.

Strong adult and children’s Sunday Schools resulted from this focus on education, and LOGOS and FISH programs grew. Additionally, SCPC’s com- mitments to diversity and peacemaking expanded, as well as missions at every level. By 1997, an intensive outreach to college students included an exam week study break program, a College Connection luncheon and the AGAPE weekly fellowship gatherings.

By 1962, there was a discussion concerning the establishment of a sec- ond congregation, adding to the present structure, and locating on the edge of town. Due to the 1912 commitment to college students, members voted to remain at the Beaver Avenue location. As a result, in 1966, 93 families transferred their membership to the newly-formed Diakonia Church, a United Presbyterian Church in State College.

More Changes

A new method of ministering to college students evolved with the formation of United Campus Ministries, and the Westminster Foundation was dissolved in 1965.

By 1966 there were four singing choirs and a bell choir, involving a total of 162 members. This necessitated a larger choir loft and other remodeling, including a new organ. New groups and events continued to spring up, such as Presby-Pairs, The Niners, Senior High Fellowship, and the Deacon’s First Palm Sunday breakfast. In 1978 Session declared an intent to “implement and maintain” a comprehensive CE program for university students. God Squad, Presby-Pairs and Spares, Exploring and Scouting, FISH and Playschool were initiated. The Deacons organized summer garden plots on undeveloped church property.

In 1990, attention was focused on the year-long Centennial Celebration for SCPC. This culminated in October in a procession of the congregation, choir, ministers and guests to Schwab Auditorium for a celebratory service and lunch.

In November 1992, a Nine-year building campaign kicked off to raise over $2 million for a new education annex. To lead this venture, the Rev. Charles Curley was called as Head of Staff in 1993. In September 1995, the new building was dedicated. Between the two Sunday morning services a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place, complete with the sounds of bagpipes and the church bell.

Strong adult and children’s Sunday Schools resulted from this focus on education, and LOGOS and FISH programs grew. Additionally, SCPC’s commitments to diversity and peacemaking expanded, as well as missions at every level. By 1997, an intensive outreach to college students included an exam week study break program, a College Connection luncheon and the AGAPE weekly fellowship gatherings.

Year 2000 and Beyond

In the year 2000, we saw an active and dedicated congregation involved in many fellowship and outreach activities. These included progressive din- ners, coffee house entertainment, the middle school program “Chrysalis”, mission trips to Haiti, Presbyterian Women’s Strawberry Socials, various seminars and lecture series, a hospital visitation ministry, the Visitation Deacons team, and the Stay-and-Play Pre-School program. 2005 saw the addition of central air conditioning and the formation of “Westminster Presbyterian Fellowship,” the umbrella organization for the college-age ministry programs of the church. WPF is a recognized student activity by the Office of Student Affairs of Penn State University, with activities occur- ring at both the church and on campus.

A Little History …

1775 — The site of the first Presbyterian worship service was a log school house by Cedar Creek near Linden Hall. In 1779, James Martin became the first settled pastor.
1802 — A log building called “Slab Cabin” or “Branch” Churchwas built on the banks of the Slab Cabin Branch of Spring Creek. The cemetery still stands by Centre Hills Country Club. In 1866, The Rev. Dr. Robert Ham- mill organized the first Sabbath School.

1872 — The structure for the Spring Creek Presbyterian Church was built “at the end of the mountain”, as Lemont was called. From 1875 to 1885, that church gave birth to four colonies; Pine Grove, Bald Eagle, Buffalo Run and State College.
1888 — The building for the first State College Church was built at the corner of College Avenue and Locust Lane, where Faith United Church of Christ now stands. In 1890, 58 people were received into membership.9-18 002
1913 — Our present Beaver Avenue facility was completed with an obligation to serve college students. In 1922, The Rev. Don Carruthers became Pastor and served for 30 years.
1941 — Over sixty years ago, the cornerstone was laid for the present Christian Education Building. It contained a box of historical documents and was dedicated in April 1942.

The State College Presbyterian Church
1994 — Our present Christian Education annex, including more classroom space, handicapped accessibility to all levels of the existing building and the new building, restrooms designed for children and persons with handicaps, fire safety system, and sanctuary appearance and lighting improvements were completed. These upgrades have provided us with a comfortable and attractive place for worship, Christian Education and programs.
2010 -Rev. Charles J. Curley retired as Pastor Emeritus on November 30, 2010 after serving as Pastor and Head of Staff for 17 years.
2013 – Rev. Dean Lindsey was called as Pastor and Head of Staff in July 2013
2015 – Rev. Joel Blunk accepted a call to serve as Pastoral Co-Director of the Richmond Hill community in Richmond, VA and left SCPC on November 30, 2015