Rehoboth Church History
It all started when...
The early settlers coming into the Rehoboth valley were surrounded by tribes of the Iroquois Nation, which used the area as hunting grounds. Naturally the Mingoe, Delaware, and Shawnee tribes were hostile to the white settlers for infringing on their territory. As more settlers came into the area, the Reverend James Finley rode horseback across the mountains in 1771 to preach to the settlers. A log cabin, sutated back of the stone house owned by Colonel Edward Cook, was used for the services. The stone house is still used as a residence for the Cook family.
In the year of 1778, on one of Reverend James Finley's trips, he organized the Rehoboth valley settlers into a congregation in the morning, and Round Hill settlers in the afternoon. These two churches were served by the same ministers until 1841. It was nearing the close of Reverend Robert Johnston;s ministry that Round Hill chose to have their own minister. Due to the reluctance of the Presbytery to dismiss him, Reverend James Finley did not begin his pastorate at Rehoboth until 1784.
A home built by Reverend James Finley is still used as a residence of the Rozik family. A log church was built directly across the road, from the present church, on the farm of the Reverend James Finley.
The Redstone Presbytery held its seventh meeting at Rehoboth, January 25, 1785. This meeting was evidently held in the Log Church. Revered James Finley served this congregation until his death in 1795. In his will he left two acres of land on which the meeting house of Rehoboth and the graveyard stands including a path from the northeast corner of the graveyard to the nearest spring, in care of the Elders of said congregation forever.
During the ministry of the Reverend David Smith a new brick meeting house, (the first country brick meeting house of worship built in Western Pennsylvania), had been fitted up for the temporary reception of the crowded night meetings. This building was built across the road from the Log Church and on the site of the present church building. Reverend Smith preached his last sermon in the new house in August 1803, and on the 24th of August 1803, at the age of 32 years, passed to his eternal reward. His grace is in Rehoboth Cemetary and on the tombstone is the following inscription, "Sacred to the memory of Reverend David Smith, late pastor of the united congregations of Rehoboth and Round Hill, who departed this life August 24th, 1803, in the thirty-second year of his life. He was a sound, divine pastor and pathetic preacher. The word of God by him dispensed will prove to many in this place a saver of life to life or death unto death."
In the ministry of the Reverent Noah Gillet 221 members were received. It was apparent that a larger building was needed, this the second brick church was built in 1836. There were few buildings whose inner dimensions are 56 x 60 feet without a pillar to support the roof.
The largest subscription for the new building was $105.00 and the vast majority gave $10, $5, and $2. The whole amount paid to the contractor was $1,741.67. This, however, does not represent the cost of the church for nearly all of the lumber and much of the stone was donated.
Since this building was built on the site of the other church, the congregation worshipped in the wooded area near Harmony Schoolhouse, while it was being built. The salary of Reverent Gillet was $500.00.
Reverend James Rowland Hughes, the next pastor, was an advocate of education, thus a parochial school was organized in 1850, and was held in the session house. Miss Pollack was the reacher at a salary of $20.00 per month. The branches taught were spelling, (together with definitions) reading, arithmetic, geography, English Grammar, philosophy, geometry, algebra, physiology, mental philosophy, vocal music and the shorter catechism.
It was the custom that a token, made of iron or copper, be required for a person to partake of Communion. This token was acquired by attending preparatory services on Saturday. On Sunday morning tables were set in the aisles, and only those who could present a token were permitted to sit at the Lord's Table and partake of Communion. The use of tokens was abolished on April 5, 1851.
When Reverend Hughes left, the house he had built was purchased by the church to use as a manse. This house still stands back of the new manse.
On November 1, 1872, during the ministry of Dr. L.Y. Graham, twenty-four members took their letters and formed the Fayette City congregation, but they were made to understand that the property and church still belonged to Rehoboth.
During the ministry of Reverend Gilbert Mitchell Hair, forty-eight members were dismissed on December 11, 1873 to form the congregation of Belle Vernon Presbyterian Church. The Webster Presbyterian Church was built, during the ministry of Revered Fulton Boyd, free of debt. The members of the congregation were still members at Rehoboth and the ministry of Reverend George Irwin.
It was January 1878 that Reverend Boyd organized the Women's Foreign Missionary Society which increased the funds of the Foreign Mission Board by $75.00. As far back as 1789 the Rehoboth Church was giving to Foreign Missions. In June 1880 the Band of Willing Workers, a missionary organization for boys and girls, was organized by Mrs. Boyd, with 36 members. In the early 1900's this band was for girls only. It was disbanded in the early 1920's due to lack of interest.
The Christian Endeavor was organized by Reverend S.F. Farmer probably around 1888. It disbanded for several years around 1910. Reverend Walter G. Ramage reorganized it in 1914. It was active until the late 1950's.
The present church building was built during the ministry of Reverend Charles Clark. The cornerstone was laid in 1899. The first service was held in the new church on June 14, 1900. The cost of the building was $15,000, but free labor was given by the members. They hauled the brick from the Belle Vernon freight station by horse and wagon.
The East Salem Church was closed during the ministry of Reverend Harry W. Kilgore. There were only three older members in attendance at the time.. Since then the church building has been torn down.
Reverend Edwin Bevier at the Marion Mission was supported by Andrew Brown, an elder at Rehoboth Church. He had Presbytery place to work at Marion under the care of Rehoboth. This arrangement continued until the organization of the Marion Presbyterian Church in 1918. The basement under the present building was dug out with pick and shovel by the men of the church during the ministry of Reverend Crawford Coulter in the 1940's.
The Education Building plans and fund raising began during the ministry of Reverend Jess R. Houk. The building was built in the early ministry of the Reverend Allie A. Clayton. It was dedicated on May 16, 1971.
The Rehoboth Nursery School was established in 1974 for three and four year old children. A separate class for three year olds was recently added. This has been a very successful outreach for Rehoboth.
For many years a Quilting group, an outgrowth of the Mary Brown Class, continued to serve as a fellowship for the ladies of the church.
After the construction of the Education Building, the parking lot was enlarged making it necessary to give up the Bible Garden and two ponds. A drainage system was installed when the area was blacktopped.
A highlight of the Reverend Helen Cochrane's ministry was the Stephen Foster Concert given by the large choir. Another choir occasion was a Christmas Contata. Through these activities funds were raised to purchase a new organ.
A group called "Kids Night Out" provided education for the elementary-age kids of the church on Sunday evenings. Snacks, crafts, and music were also a part of the evening for the children. Pastor Richard C. Klein, Jr. was installed as pastor on February 14, 1988. A number of projects have been accomplished during the last fifteen years.
Each summer Rehoboth Vacation Bible School attracts a large enrollment of children for Bible Study, singing, crafts, snacks, and games. Adults and teenagers of various area churches assist with the activities.
The old coal room was remodeled to make the church kitchen larger. The installation of a dishwasher, refrigerator, range, and ovens with a ventilation system have made the food preparation facilities convenient and efficient. Rehoboth cook books were a money-making project of a group known as the Genesis Class. The profit was used to upgrade the kitchen facilities.
The Chicken and Biscuit supped, an annual event for many years was again revived in 1990, and soon became a bi-annual event. Many workers were needed for these dinners. Our church members and their many friends enjoyed fellowship as they shared the labor together. A Strawberry Festival was also added and has become a profitable occasion.
The Alpha and Omega Class and the Presbyterian Women of Rehoboth have catered dinners and sponsored a flea market every year. Special occasions have been celebrated with a "Coffee Hour" of fellowship following the Sunday worship services.
In recent years, memorials have provided a carillon, new Bibles and Hymnals, sanctuary candelabra and candles, and a public address system. The congregation has diligently maintained the church property. The *Christ the Consoler* window was restored with the help of the Cook family. The *Transfiguration* or sometimes known as the Flannagan window and most of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary have been cleaned and restored, and protective shields have been added.
All of the original pews were refinished as well as new carpeting installed, overhead fans, and new chandeliers. The Christ in Gethsamanie mural was restored in 1998. Both this mural and the Jesus with the Children paintings have received professional care.
We celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the construction of the present church building in the year 2002. Members and friends gathered for a special day or morning and afternoon worship services with a procession lead by a bag piper and the youth of the church. A box lunch followed along with a photograph of the congregation on the front porch steps.
On the outside of the church building new landscaping provides a modern and attractive appearance. A large lighted sign welcomes everyone as they approach the driveway. Smaller signs designate the walkways to the sanctuary, the social hall and the handicap entrance. A walkway for wheelchair and un-enabled visitors had been a Boy Scout Eagle project throughout 2002 and 2003.
Rehoboth reaches the community by serving at the Rostraver "Food Bank", delivering Meals on Wheels, hosting the Thanksgiving worship service, participating in the Belle Vernon Ministerium, Red Cross Blood Drive, and the Rostraver Council of Churches.
Rehoboth continues to provide a Christian Community that welcomes people and involves them in meaningful worship and service with "Room for All."
In the early days, Rehoboth Church was known by many names; Horshoe Bottom, Crab Orchard, Bullock Pen, Wheatfield, Stone Coal Forks, Upper Meeting house in the Forks, Meeting House in the Forks of the Road, and the Brick Church. It must have been known as Rehoboth in the early days, since the name Rehoboth was mentioned in Reverend Finley's will.