History

First United Methodist Church has been a spiritual keystone in the New Castle, Lawrence County area for nearly two centuries and as we proceed in the New Millennium, First Church will continue to reach out into the community bringing the word of the Gospel and bringing people into a community of people building a relationship with Jesus Christ and actively using their spiritual gifts to serve this loving Savior.
 

 
 
The first regular meeting house was a log cabin erected in 1803 (it later became known as Kings Chapel). The response of the area settlers was immediate and unmistakable; with every service more people came to worship God. Soon after, another church was established in the tiny village of New Castle.

In 1815, the First Methodist Church of New Castle was erected at the corner of South Jefferson and Lawrence Streets. Constructed of logs, the modest church  had three windows and one door.


 
 
Since window glass was still a luxury, the windows had to be covered with oiled paper: the faithful were forced to sit upon rough-hewed planks supported by sticks.

Twenty years later, a second church was constructed on the same site, and a third church later at a nearby location. In 1888, a magnificent new church was erected at the corner of North Jefferson and North Streets on land donated by Ira D. Sankey, the famous evangelist and hymnologist. Sankey had been converted in 1858 at the original Kings Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church.
 
 





In 1905, the resplendent 11 foot by 6 foot stained glass window “Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane” was dedicated as a memorial to George Edmund’s Treadwell, a loyal member of the church.








In 1910, a second magnificent stained glass window, “The Ninety and Nine”, was installed. This was a gift of Frances Victoria Edwards, Sankey’s wife, and was manufacture d by Tiffany and Company of New York; unfortunately, the name of the artist has been lost.

Among it’s unique qualities is that gold coins were melted and blended with the molten glass to produce special hues of red in Christ’s robe. “The Ninety and Nine” was immediately recognized as a creation of exquisite  value and was shipped to England for public display before being sent to New Castle.

Both windows are unique and acknowledged masterpieces - two of the finest stained glass windows in the nation.

The decision to erect a new church in Neshannock Township was made in 1964. However, such decisions are not made lightly; while the prospect of a wholly new church with expanded facilities and an attractive design was appealing, the responsibility of such an undertaking was correspondingly great.

 Instead of being viewed as a burden, though, the new church was viewed as a special opportunity - the visible renewal of the congregation’s commitment to fulfill the promise of being God’s instrument of goodness. As in the past, whenever the church needed to expand to better accomplish it’s mission, God has been with them, guiding and even prodding a little, showing the way. In building the church, There was shown a deep and abiding faith, a total commitment to Christ. When the first service was held in the new church on April 2, 1967, the first Sunday after Easter, this commitment had found a new home. On May 25, 1967, with the greatest care and highest professionalism, the Treadwell and Sankey windows were removed from the old church, p ackaged and stored until spring of 1999 when they where removed to be restored and to be placed in the new sanctuary to once again inspire and teach our congregation as well as future generations.

 

The First Church on Decker Drive remains an unwavering source of spiritual strength, a beacon of love, truth and fellowship. With each generation of faithful, there is renewal, an on-going revitalization and ever-growing commitments to the church and humanity.


On Sunday, September 9, 2001 First Church once again took a faith leap. As a congregation committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and a desire to grow spiritual pilgrims, we consecrated a new building to the GLORY OF GOD and committed this new building to serve Jesus Christ, to the making of disciples, and to bringing people into a growing relationship in a community of believers.

 

The new sanctuary stands as a visible, tangible proof of our love of God and our never-ending commitment to Jesus Christ. The splendid Tiffany stained glass windows stand before the
 congregation as jewels which will inspire the faithful for at least a century and probably much longer. By incorporating them into the sanctuary, the promise made long ago has been fulfilled. Clearly, they reflect God’s love, grace and presence in our everyday lives. Through the dedication of a faithful and capable congregation, and God’s love and guidance, First Church will continue to radiate the truth of God’s teachings and through an active membership in the church, be a path to the joys of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. To God be the glory!

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