Covenant Presbyterian Church in Steubenville is celebrating its centennial - "100 years of worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
The centennial celebration began with the performance of Handel's Messiah in December, then a spaghetti dinner on March 24.
Now comes July, which will bring a celebration of the past 100 years with special displays featuring through-the-years photographs of events and members, a slide show, church journals, ledgers and other church memorabilia available for members and former members to see as they share memories of activities, programs and special events at Covenant.
The anniversary activities include:
July 7: 100th anniversary banquet at 6:30 p.m.
July 8: Guest speaker the Rev. Larry Roff at the 10 a.m. Sunday service.
July 8: Organ recital, Larry Roff, at 3 p.m.
July 15: Anniversary After Glow, Spurlock Family Musicale at 3 p.m., which is open to the public.
The history of the Covenant congregation is rather unusual, a church spokesman explained, in that it did not have to struggle in a storefront or a home to begin. In 1902, the LaBelleview Land Co. acquired acreage for a new development as the city was expanding westward. This area became known as LaBelleview. It soon was obvious that a church was needed in this new area. Many of the new residents there were members of First United Presbyterian Church located on North Fifth Street.
From this group of church members, their new neighbors and friends, it was proposed to establish Second U.P. on the hilltop. The Rev. J. Walter Liggett, pastor of First Church, formed a provisional session to study the issue. In 1911, the project was soon approved, property was purchased for $2,200, and construction of the sanctuary, at a cost of $15,000, was completed.
On July 1, 1012, the congregation of Second Church was formally organized with 69 charter members. It had a strong denominational background. It was indoctrinated in United Presbyterian teaching and form of worship, and Second Church was given generous encouragement, guidance and financial support from a sister congregation - First Church on North Fifth Street. The inscription over the church's front door still reads "Second United Presbyterian Church."
Over the last 100 years, Covenant has had 11 ministers: the Rev. Mertz A. Eakin (1912-23); the Rev. Chauncey K. McGeorge (1923-32); the Rev. James K. Leitch (1933-42); the Rev. Alexander S. Fleming (1943-52); the Rev. Gordon Boak (1953-59); Rev. Edwin F. Fontaine (1960-88); Rev. J. Arthur Wood (1988-90); the Rev. Lawrence Roff (1990-2001); Walter A. Coppersmith (2001-05); the Rev. David Massimi (2005-08); and the Rev. Paul Danielson, its present pastor.
"A church is also known by those who have gone out from it into full time ministry who at one time or another were members of Covenant Church. Not all grew up in Covenant Church nor were they members of the church at the time of their call. However, 13 men went forth to preach the Work of God. And, approximately 4000 members have sat in the pews at Covenant Church," the spokesman said.
"Over the years, there were many aspects of Covenant: There has always been a strong Christian Education program; there have been Sunday School classes for all ages; and our women's class and the men's class have given their members a strong fellowship for many years," the spokesman said.
Music has always been an important part of life and worship at Covenant. with George Melhorn serving as the Minister of Music since 1980. "Under his direction, we have enjoyed many wonderful concerts and cantatas. One of the most enjoyable is the annual production of Handel's Messiah. Equally dedicated to music is Juanita Panebianco, our organist. She served in this capacity from 1975-2009. The two of them have greatly enhanced our choir and our worship," the spokesman said.
Other activities at Covenant included the church's sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop No. 4 beginning in 1930 and continuing for nearly 50 years. The church also sponsors a Girl Scout troop.
"After the adoption of the confession of 1967, there was a realization that UPUSA was drifting from its historical Biblical moorings. Because of these matters Second Church took the bold action on May 3, 1981, to withdraw from UPUSA. This action was taken after one year of study and prayer. During the pastorate of the Rev. J. Arthur Wood (1988-90), Covenant became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America. This relationship lasted until 2005 when Covenant withdrew. We are now an independent congregation. We believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, and we proclaim its message of salvation through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ," the spokesman said.
"The passing of 100 years has seen this stately church maintain without apology, the unchanging Gospel of God's saving grace in Jesus Christ. We continue to stand gratefully on the shoulders of this heritage with an enduring commitment to the application of the Word of God," the spokesman said.