Calvary-First Campus

History of Calvary

In 1920 Bishop W. F. McDowell called Reverend Dr. C. Y. Trigg, pastor of Warren Church in Pittsburgh; Reverend J. E. Dotson, pastor of John Wesley Church in Washington, PA. and Dr. W. A. C. Hughes, Secretary of the Bureau of Negro work to meet him in Pittsburgh to devise plans for the better spiritual nurture of Negro Methodists moving to Allegheny County.

A new Pittsburgh District of the Washington District was created with Dr. C. Y. Trigg as Superintendent. Dr. Trigg located a group of Methodists without spiritual care in McKeesport and on December 2, 1920 organized seventeen persons into the Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church. The meeting was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Salley at 1807 River Street.

The newly organized group secured the use of the basement of the Pentecostal Church at Locust Street where they worshipped during the winter. During 1921 the group raised $2,000, which, together with a donation of $4,500 from the Board of Home Missions and Church Extension, was used to purchase a church building at 822 Jenny Lind Street on November 4, 1921. This building was condemned in October 1968 and in the summer of 1969 the congregation moved into the former Ballentyne building.

At the dissolving of the Washington Conference of the Central Jurisdiction in 1964 this congregation and pastor became members of the Western Pennsylvania Conference. Transferred from Pittsburgh East District in 2004. February 2021 Calvary merged with First United Methodist Church of McKeesport.

History of First

A Class was organized by Reverend Jacob Keiss Miller on the Braddock field Mission Circuit in 1832. In 1840 Ephraim Shannon and John Walker held prayer meetings and a class of twelve members were related to the Miller Circuit. First building was erected at Market and Fifth Avenue in Greensburg District 400 1843. In 1846 a larger two-story brick structure was erected on the same site.

McKeesport first appears in the lists of appointments in 1847. A larger building was constructed in 1876 at the corner of Walnut and Penney Street. Reverend William Brown Watkins was the pastor. In the early morning of July 11, 1924 this high steepled church burned down. Congregation worship in First Baptist Church and then the YMCA. On July 28, 1924 approval was given to purchase the YMCA athletic field and to build a new structure. The corner stone was laid October 4, 1925. This stone, gothic structure was opened for services September 12, 1926 and dedicated November 21, 1926.

Reverend Lemon Dorsey Spaugy was pastor at the time. During the depression years heavy indebtedness placed extra burdens on the people. Dr. Thomas R. Courtice served ably as the pastor and leader from 1931-1940. Under the long effective pastorate of Reverend Dr. Joseph Dushane Piper from 1940-1959 the mortgage was paid, and the membership reached in the year of 1958 a total of 1872. In 1950 bus transportation to and from the Green Valley area won some 65 families. They in turn desired to establish their own Church. On May 24, 1964, a charter was granted to the Green Valley Methodist (Community) Church with 125 members transferring from First Church. A similar release of First Church members was made to Central Highland Methodist Church and also to the Coulter Methodist Church within recent years. When the Coursin Street Church of McKeesport faced redevelopment, plans projected by the city of McKeesport, the building was sold, and the congregation carried on its work for six months in First Church.

It finally voted to merge with Ballantyne Church, McKeesport in December 1965. When the building of Calvary Church, McKeesport was condemned in June 1967 the congregation carried on its work in First Church through August 1968. Renovation of the Chapel of the church took place in 1965. First Church has been host several times to the meeting of the Pittsburgh Annual Conference. McKeesport: First became a two-point Charge with McKeesport: Kephart in 2003.