Memorial Park Church was founded as a mission congregation of the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1941. It was located in the rural and undeveloped North Hills area, in the town of McCandless. The first worship services were held in the old Peebles School building at the corner of Duncan Avenue and Peebles Road (now Colaizzi’s Beauty Salon). The organizing pastor was Rev. John Mark Scott. The church purchased land in 1944 to build a permanent church. That church was located on Sample Road near the intersection with Peebles Road. The congregation purchased an old church building from a Lutheran church on the North Side and disassembled, moved, and reassembled the entire building on their property.
By the late 1950s, under the leadership of the first permanently called pastor, Rev. Charles Skuce, the congregation had outgrown the building and property on Sample Road. A seven acre piece of ground at Duncan and Peebles was purchased from the Allegheny County Memorial Park cemetery, and plans were begun to move the congregation to a new site. The current sanctuary was constructed in 1962, and the Fellowship Hall building and attaching breezeway were added in 1963.
The membership of Memorial Park reached a high point in the late 1970s, during the pastorate of Rev. Richard Todd, when over 1500 active members were recorded on the rolls. A significant youth ministry to church teens and unchurched young people of the North Hills was a strong point of the 1970s. During the 1980s the church experienced some new ministries, notably the beginnings of a single adult outreach under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Todd’s successor, Rev. Jerald Landrey. But also during the 1980s some membership decline occurred as a large number of families left Memorial Park to found the new Northway Christian Community. Active membership dropped to approximately 1000 by 1989.
In 1990, Rev. Douglas Pratt was called as pastor, and the church began a new era of expansion and spiritual growth. Several significant facility expansions and renovations were completed in the 1990s, including the addition of a narthex at the front entry of the church in 1991, renovation of the sanctuary (including purchase of a new organ) in 1993, purchase of a home at 8830 Peebles Road for staff housing in 1994, and completion of a $1.7 million, 17,000 square foot addition for offices and classrooms in 1997. A Christian preschool affiliated with the church was founded in 1993.
In 1998 our Saturday Night Worship service was initiated. This contemporary style service is held Saturday’s at 6:00 p.m. at the Clayton Community Youth Center. Present-day Christian music is played by a live band and the format is casual, but you’ll hear the same pastoral message that is presented on Sundays.
Highlights of the recent years include the planting of a daughter church (Fountain Park Church) in Cranberry, PA, and the addition of The Clayton Community Youth Center to our church campus. In 2007, the members of Memorial Park Church overwhelmingly voted to disaffiliate with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and unite with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).
In May 2006, Dr. D. Dean Weaver answered the call to be our new lead pastor. Formerly, he served as the pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, New York. Dr. Weaver has a Bachelor of Arts in History and Religion from Grove City College, a Masters of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry focusing on Expository Homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. For Dr. Weaver, the Word comes first, and everything else follows. He has a passion for missions and youth ministry, and enjoys both traditional and contemporary styles of worship. Dr. Weaver and his wife Beth have six children, ages 13 to 22, and reside in Ingomar, PA.
Our current active membership is approximately 1600.