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Moravia Presbyterian Church - Moravia (North Beaver Twnp) PA

A small group of Scots-Irish residents of the thriving little village of West Moravia, Pennsylvania, organized a Presbyterian congregation in late October 1889. The village of West Moravia or simply Moravia, on the west bank of the Beaver River, was formally laid out in about 1864. However, the surrounding area was already steeped in history. Moravian missionaries came here in 1770 and set up (until they departed three years later) the first “white” settlement in the county and converted many Native Americans to Christianity. They initially set up camp on the east side of the Beaver River, but soon relocated to higher ground on the west bank – near the spot where the new Presbyterian Church of West Moravia was dedicated in December 1890.

The church was opened with about sixty members under the care of the Reverend J. C. Pickens. A parsonage was also opened nearby in 1912. The congregation slowly grew in the coming years, at the same time the significance of Moravia waned. The nearby railroads – which greatly boasted the economy of Moravia – began to shrink in importance as the automobile came into prominence during the 1920’s. The church was fortunate when the Reverend Thaddeus C. Henderson took over as pastor in November 1919 and served the congregation for the next twenty years. The church was greatly improved in the 1920’s with an expanded basement, a Sabbath school addition, and the installation of electricity. This was followed by the lean times of the 1930’s when the Great Depression had its grip on the nation.

The congregation entered the 1940’s with hope but that was quickly dashed. A fire in the basement on the late morning of Sunday, January 5, 1940, threatened to destroy the building. Local residents fought the fire with buckets until the New Castle Fire Department arrived on scene. The church suffered only minimal damage, but had to be closed while repairs were undertaken.

The building was reopened two months later on Saturday, March 8, but another fire started in the basement the following night. An article in New Castle News of March 10, 1940, reads, “For the second time this winter, fire threatened destruction of the Moravia Presbyterian Church, but was again thwarted by neighbors of the community and fireman from New Castle and Shenango Township… Mr. Kennedy (church custodian Clare Kennedy) summoned neighbors, while more help was called by telephone… The hastily formed bucket brigade fought valiantly to check the fire in check until professional help arrived.” Both fires were believed to be a result of a faulty chimney.

To make matter worse the Reverend Henderson, who just celebrated his seventieth birthday, preached his farewell sermon a week later and retired after forty-five years of service to the Presbyterian faith. The congregation floundered in his absence and talk of closing of church was even discussed by Presbyterian officials. The dedicated core of the congregation held together and the church was able to rebound in the 1950’s. Remodeling efforts were undertaken in 1958-59.

A national merger in May 1958 of several branches of the Presbyterian Church saw the congregation renamed as the Moravia United Presbyterian Church. After further reorganization efforts in 1983 the church became known as the Moravia Presbyterian Church. The congregation marked its 100th anniversary in late 1989 and is still in active service today.


A group of Presbyterians were formally organized in the village of West Moravia (later known simply as Moravia) in October 1889. Before too long they started construction on a house of worship, known as the Presbyterian Church of West Moravia (shown above), that was dedicated in December 1890. The church was threatened by two separate fires in early 1940, but was saved due to the simple but effective firefighting efforts of local residents. (c1939)


The original building has been enlarged and remodeled several times over the years and remains in service today. (Jul 2013) Full Size


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