In about 1797 the area of North Slippery Rock Township in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, was settled by Jonathan Harlan, on a 400-acre tract of land owned by Peter Mowry of Pittsburgh. Harlan laid out the village of Harlansburg in 1800 and built and occupied the first house located there. He later moved his growing family to a farm south of the village. Other pioneers soon came to the area including members of the Hunt and Elder families. Several churches were soon founded in the area including those affiliated with the Methodist, Baptist, and Cumberland Presbyterian Churches.
By the mid-1800’s there was a growing number of local residents of the Presbyterian faith, but because they had no local church they were forced to travel to other locations to attend services. In about September 1874 the Presbyterians, numbering close to 200, gathered in the village with the intent to organize their own congregation. They purchased an abandoned brick church formerly belonging to the Cumberland Presbyterians, an offshoot of the mainstream Presbyterian Church that held services in Harlansburg from 1836-1852, on a hill overlooking Old Perry Highway (Church Road). I believe the old church was immediately torn down and a new wooden frame church was erected and dedicated at the same location on Wednesday, February 17, 1875.
The church has undergone several renovations over the years, including a large addition made to the back of the church in later years. Its basement has been the scene of many civic gatherings such a church socials, Sunday School classes, high school commencement exercises, and wedding receptions. During the weekend of September 14-15, 1974, the congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary with various services led by the Reverend Dr. Paul E. Carson – the interim pastor who was also serving the Volant Presbyterian Church. Many former pastors and other honored guests joined the festivities.
Despite its dwindling membership the church has remained an integral part of the rural community it serves. The congregation celebrated its 125th anniversary in September 1999 and is still in operation today. As of 2012 the church was served by the Reverend Brady Randall, a dedicated and youthful pastor hailing from Butler. The congregation is currently served by pastor Maxwell J. Muska, a New Brighton native and 2010 graduate of Westminster College, who took over in June 2015. Muska also serves double duty as the pastor at the Rich Hill Presbyterian Church near Volant.
The Harlansburg Presbyterian Church was organized in about September 1874. Soon after this the congregation purchased an existing brick church from the Cumberland Presbyterians, an offshoot of the mainstream Presbyterian Church that held services in Harlansburg from 1836-1852. The old church was torn down and a newer wooden frame house of worship (shown above) was opened in February 1875. (c1960) Full Size
The congregation celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1999 and the church, which has been renovated over the years, is still in operation today. (May 2012) Full Size