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Presbyterians in Pittsburgh

5 Minutes in Church History with Stephen Nichols

Ligonier Ministries

Religion & Spirituality, Christianity, History

4.81.6K Ratings

🗓️ 27 September 2023

⏱️ 5 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


What does the battle for Fort Duquesne in 1758 have to do with the emergence of Protestantism in Pittsburgh? Today, Stephen Nichols tells us about how Presbyterianism spread in this region.

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Well, welcome back to another episode of Five Minutes in Church History. For this episode,


I am on location. I am in the great city, the steel city of Pittsburgh, and I am right


next to first Presbyterian Church in downtown Pittsburgh. More on that later, but first,


let's think about the first European religious services that would have been held here in Pittsburgh.


And the first would have been Catholic services. It was the Catholics who had Fort De Cane


at the point where the two rivers converged to form a third. In 1758, General Forbes was


moving his British troops closer to Fort De Cane. The French realized they were vastly


outnumbered, and so they withdrew from their fort, blew it up, and went away. So, incomes


General Forbes and incomes the British. This was 1758, and there were two services that were


held Protestant services, the first Protestant religious services held in this area. One was an


Anglican service, following, of course, the Book of Common Worship and the Book of Common Prayer,


and the second was a Presbyterian service. Presbyterians were a part of General Forbes troops. These


were the Scots and Dyrish, and one of them, Charles Beatty, was actually Chaplin to General Forbes,


and he would have held a service here in Pittsburgh. Of course, it was renamed from Fort De Cane


to Fort Pitt, and then it became Pittsburgh, two words, and then it became Pittsburgh. And after


the establishment of Fort Pitt, there were settlers, and by 1773, these Presbyterians were ready to


call their first minister. They reached out to the Donagall Presbyteria to the east, and they


called two pastors, and for quite a few years, they simply met in the homes of the parishioners.


By 1787, they had purchased a parcel of land, and they built a log church. But by 1805, that log


church was too small for the congregation, so they built a new brick church. But here's the thing,


they built the new church around the old log church. That way, they could keep meeting inside the


log church as the building progressed. When they finished that new building that surrounded the


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