Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church History

Brookline Methodist Church - 1909

A postcard image from early-1909 showing the original Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1907 at the corner of Wedgemere Avenue and Fitch Way, just off of Brookline Boulevard. The Brookline Methodists were the communities first organized church, and originally were located at the Knowlson Methodist Church, built in 1850 and located along West Liberty Avenue.

Brookline Methodist Church - 1909    Brookline Methodist Church - 1909
The rear of the original Brookline Methodist Church (left) and the sanctuary, both shown in 1909.

In the spring of 1905, the Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church united with the Banksville Methodist and Reflectorville Methodist Churches. Masses were held at the Knowlson Church while a suitable location was found to build a new church.

That location was found nearby, along Brookline Boulevard at West Point (Wedgemere) Avenue. On July 19, 1905, Reverend Dr. James E. Mechem, presiding elder of the church, purchased the three corner lots (#667, 668, 669) from the Freehold Real Estate Company for $4100. Soon after, construction of a stone chapel began.

On October 27, 1907, the church was dedicated by newly appointed pastor Reverend H.H. Westwood. The services were conducted by Reverend Mechem, while the church choir, assisted by the Banksville choir, supplied special music. The cost of the building was $10,000.

Eight years later, on September 17, 1915, the congregation held a mortgage burning ceremony to celebrate the liquidation of that construction debt. The final $5000 was paid off by $3000 in contributions from the church members, $1000 from Mr. William Price (president of the Diamond National Bank) and $1000 from Reverend Jacob S. Payton and his friends.

Brookline Methodist Church - 1923
The Brookline Methodist Church in June 1923. Inset shows long-time pastor Rev. Alexander Steel.

In 1923, the Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church fielded a team in the Pittsburgh Press' Brookline Church Baseball League, competing against other local church teams. That inaugural team was featured in a Press article on July 10, 1923. The team finished the season with a 5-4 record, good for second place.

Gazette Times article dated July 10, 1923, showing the Brookline Methodist team (right) before the first game.

The team returned for a second season in 1924, finishing fifth out of six clubs with a 3-7 record. The league was dissolved after the 1924 season.

The congregation held services at this small church for the next two decades, until a newer, larger sanctuary was built along Brookline Boulevard in 1926. The two buildings (old and new church) were attached. The old church building was remodeled and became the Sunday School and Departmental Activities building.

Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church - 1925
Artist's conception of the new Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church along Brookline Boulevard from December 1925.

After eighteen years celebrating in their stone chapel at the corner of Wedgemere Avenue and Fitch Way, the Brookline Methodist congregation would finally fulfill their dream of building a large sanctuary on their adjacent boulevard lot. The following are excerpts from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the construction of the church.

Click on image for a larger picture.

December 17, 1925

Brookline To Get New Church

Methodist Congregation Will Erect Another Edifice Costing $110,000

Plans for the construction of a new church building by the congregation of the Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church at Brookline Boulevard and Wedgemere Avenue, became known yesterday when application for a building permit was made at the city Bureau of Building Inspection. The new structure will cost approximately $110,000.

According to the Reverend Alexander Steele, pastor, the present building now being used for both Church and Sunday school purposes, will be converted into an exclusive Sunday school section with many rooms for departmental activities. On the front of the lot, which measures 90 feet by 129 feet, the new church auditorium and basement will be used for gymnasium purposes, kitchen and locker rooms.

Beaver County sandstone will be used on the exterior, while the interior will be finished with stucco, the Rev. Steele said. Plans are being prepared for submission to contractors, and it is thought that construction work will be started some time in the spring.

The need for more commodious quarters has been felt for over a year now, the growth of the congregation making necessary the enlargement. The membership now totals 500.

July 26, 1926

New Brookline Church Planned

Cornerstone Will Be Laid at Ceremony Tomorrow

The cornerstone of the Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church, Reverend Alexander Steele, pastor, Brookline Boulevard and Wedgemere Avenue, will be laid at four o'clock tomorrow afternoon.

The service will be in the form of union services, all Brookline Churches uniting. Dr. H.N. Cameron, district superintendent, will have charge. Bishop Francis J. McConnell, of the Pittsburgh diocese will speak.

The Brookline church was founded in 1907 when the old Knowlson Methodist Episcopal Church and the Brookline Society united and erected a church on the present site. In 1907 the membership was 35. It is now more than 500. The Sunday school has an enrollment of 561. The new church, with newest equipment, is expected to cost $110,000.

October 31, 1926

Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church - 1926
The Brookline United Methodist Episcopal Church under construction in October 1926.

The church was formally dedicated on May 15, 1927. Bishop Joseph F. Berry of Philadelphia was in charge of the services. Speakers were Rev. C.A. Hartung, of the Coraopolis Methodist Church; Rev. J.J. McIlvaine, or the Brookline Boulevard United Presbyterian Church; Rev. Alexander Steel, of the Brookline Methodist Church; Bishop Berry and Rev. William Semple, Jr. of the Paul Presbyterian Church.

Brookline Methodist Episcopal Church - 1927
The Brookline United Methodist Episcopal Church on dedication day in 1927. Shown here are Rev. C.A. Hartung,
Rev. J.J. McIlvaine, Rev. Alexander Steel, Bishop Berry and Rev. William Semple.

One of the highlights of the new church were the ornate stained glass windows facing Brookline Boulevard and Wedgemere Avenue. Along Wedgemere is one very large and beautiful window.

In 1930, the Carnegie Library opened a branch office in the basement of the Brookline Methodist Church. In 1942, the library moved to 730 Brookline Boulevard and remained their until 1991, when it moved to it's present-day location at 708 Brookline Boulevard.

Brookline Methodist Church Nativity Scene - 1954

A living nativity scene sponsored by The Brookline Methodist Church was, for many years, a highlight along Brookline Boulevard. The above photo is from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette showing the nativity scene on Christmas Eve 1954.

The Brookline Journal clipping below was submitted by Susan Pascarosa, who on several evenings portrayed the angel in the Christmas 1957 display. Susan recalls being delighted to be a part of the Christmas setting, and enjoyed seeing all of the people who stopped to look at the scene. She did not, however, enjoy the cold temperatures, and wondered if her shivering was visible to the many onlookers.

Brookline Methodist Church Nativity Scene - 1957

Brookline Methodist Church - 1958
The Brookline Methodist Church in 1958.

Renovations to the church were made in 1960. On November 28. 1964, the Pittsburgh Press reported that a second mortgage burning ceremony was held at the church to celebrate the liquidation of debt incurred during the 1926 church building and the subsequent remodeling. Bishop W. Vernon Middleton, District Superintendent John W. Warman and former ministers participated in the service.

The Methodist parish remained at the Brookline Boulevard location until the late-1990s, when the church building was sold. Presently the church is the home of the Brookline Assembly of God Ministry, part of the worldwide Assemblies of God Pentecostal denomination.

Pastors Who Served At The Brookline Methodist Church

1905-1907 * Rev. James E. Mechem
1907-1912 * Rev. H.H. Westwood
1912-1915 * Rev. J.T. Steffy
1915-1917 * Rev. Jacob S. Payton
1917-1917 * Rev. T.H. Morris
1923-1930 * Rev. Alexander Steel
1930-1937 * Rev. E. Wilson Kelly
1937-1940 * Rev. R.M. Fowles

1941-1947 * Rev. Samuel Ford
1948-1953 * Rev. A.A. Nagay
1953-1958 * Rev. Newton H. Fritchley
1958-1958 * Rev. Ray Oldham
1958-1960 * Rev. John Wesley Ford
1960-1964 * Rev. W.R. Gregg
1964-1969 * Rev. Thomas R. Thomas

Rev. R.M. Fowles             Rev. Samuel Ford
Reverend R.M. Fowles (left) and Reverend Samuel Ford

* List is Incomplete *

Assembly of God Church - 2017    Assembly of God Church - 2017
The rear and front of the former Brookline Methodist Church in 2017. The building now
belongs to the Brookline Assembly of God Ministry.

Click on images for larger photos

* Last Modified - November 18, 2018 *

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