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History of the Churches of the Pittsburgh Baptist Association

by William Pankey

UNION BAPTIST CHURCH, PITTSBURGH, ORGANIZED 1876

The Union Baptist church, Pittsburgh, was organized February 16, 1876, by the merging of the South Pittsburgh and East Birmingham Baptist churches, with 159 charter members. The South Pittsburgh church had been organized and received into the Pittsburgh Baptist Association in 1849. At that time it reported fifteen members, with the Rev. C. Parker as pastor. The East Birmingham church had been organized in 1862, and was received into the Pittsburgh Baptist Association in 1863, reporting sixty-seven members, with the Rev. Isaac Banks as pastor. The Union Baptist Church was received into the Pittsburgh Baptist Association in 1876, with 168 members.

In 1890, eleven members of the Union church were dismissed by letter to organize the First Baptist Church of Jeannette. The following year the Jeannette church was received into the Pittsburgh Association, with seventeen members.

In 1894, forty-six members of the Union church were dismissed by letter to organize a church on Maple Avenue, Pittsburgh. This organization grew into what is today the Knoxville Baptist Church, Pittsburgh.

In 1895 the Union church organized a mission Sunday school on Cobden Street, Pittsburgh. Within a few years this Sunday school developed into what is today the Cobden Street Baptist Church of Pittsburgh.

In 1908 the Union church dismissed thirty-seven members by letter to organize the Bethel Baptist Church, Carrick. The first building of the Bethel congregation was located on the corner of Birmingham and Amanda Avenues. In 1927 the Bethel congregation moved into its new $250,000 edifice, located on the corner of Brownsville and Hornaday Roads and Madeline Street.

The first edifice of the Union church was located on the corner of Nineteenth Street and Wrights Way, South Side, Pittsburgh. It was dedicated May 11, 1884. The mortgage was burned February 21, 1892.

In 1930 the Union and Bethel churches entered into an agreement of merger, whereupon the Union congregation moved into the new Bethel church edifice on the corner of Brownsville and Hornaday Roads, while at the same time the Bethel church relinquished its charter, and all its members joined the Union church by merger. Thus the daughter church united with the mother church, while at the same time the mother church moved into the building of the daughter church. The charter of the Union church was not changed in any way by the merger.

The present church edifice is of brick, with stone trimming. It has a seating capacity of 800. The organ is a duplex model, with chimes. The social hall is equipped with a stage and has a seating capacity of 400. The Sunday school equipment is modern in every respect. The parsonage, having six rooms and bath, adjoins the church. The entire property is estimated to be worth $300,000.

Statistics show that 3,648 persons have united with the church in its sixty-three years of existence. During the same period of time, the total contributions for all purposes have amounted to $626,481.38,  of which 1118,243.02 was for missions. The present membership is one thousand.

The following ministers have served the church:

Rev. J. L. Phillips (1876-1880), Rev. William Hildreth (1880-1884), Rev. J. W. Riddle (1884-1893), Rev. J. M. Thomas (1894-1903), Rev. A. A. Nellis (1904-1907), Rev. W. T. Tapscott (1907-1910), Rev. Joseph R. Wood (1911-1918), Rev. G. M. Walker (1918-1920), Rev. M. C. Westphal (1920-1922), Rev. M. R. Palmer (1923-1925), Rev. William H. Cutler (1926-1930), Rev. William Russell Pankey (1931 ).

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