Mount Vernon Community Presbyterian Church is rooted in the collective ministry of “knowing Christ and making Him known.” We believe that individuals experience the grace of God in their lives as they come to know the love of Jesus Christ personally.
The Word of God as contained in the scriptures provides us not only with the Lord's blueprints for our lives, but also acts as the guide for the ministry in which we engage as Christ's Church. To that end we covenant together:
To Bring People to Christ
To Preach the Word of God
To Educate and Promote Growth in Christ
To Be an Extension of Christ to Those in Need
In September of 1866 the presbytery of Redstone met in the First Presbyterian Church of McKeesport (now Immanuel) and presented a petition to form a new church. 118 people signed it. You may recognize some of the names: Rankin, Howell, Mansfield, and Culbert. The petition read:
To the Rev. Moderator and Presbytery of Redstone: the undersigned residents of Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County and state of Pennsylvania having long felt the want of a Presbyterian Church to be located in the vicinity of Mt. Vernon in said township – and having the fullest confidence that the Presbytery will look with favor upon our efforts, not only to provide for ourselves and our families the ordinances of God’s house within convenient distance to any who seldom attend public worship by reason of the great distance to any place of preaching – have selected a site for a church edifice, and have raised by subscription a sufficient sum of money to warrant the contracting for its erection. In these circumstances we most respectfully ask your Rev Body to take such measures as may be deemed proper for the organization of a church to be called “The Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church”. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
In January of 1867 17 people from the First Presbyterian Church of McKeesport, 23 people from Round Hill Church and 2 from the Church of Long Run made up the first congregation of the new Mt Vernon Presbyterian Church.
The first session meeting was held in April where eight more members were received into the fold. The first communion and baptisms were also in April.
Over the years the church grew. The budget report for 1881 – 1882 was:
Pastor’s Salary - $600
Repairs - $108
Contingency - $44
Mission - $57
Sabbath School - $25
By 1886 the church had 82 members and average attendance was 75%.
We’ve had a couple of names over the years:
Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church
Mount Vernon Community Presbyterian Church
Mount Vernon Community United Presbyterian Church and then back to
Mount Vernon Community Presbyterian Church (due to the reunion of the Northern and Southern branches of the Presbyterian church)
The original wooden church was built in 1867 and did not have a basement. In 1950 the church was moved up the hill and a basement was added. The basement was used for Sunday school and a recreational room. What remains of the original basement are the Scout room and the small room attached to that (the little kitchen).
In 1955 the original sanctuary was remodeled and redecorated. The color scheme changed to Williamsburg blue and white. In 1958 an educational unit was added. This would include what is now the choir room, pastor’s room, parlor, and chapel - all the brick part of the church. In 1972 The Fellowship Hall and new Sanctuary were completed and the old sanctuary was dismantled.
Colonel William Douglass (1807 – 1876)
Founding Father of Mt Vernon Presbyterian Church
Colonel William Douglass was born to Thomas Douglass and Margaret Elrod Crawford in a log house that formerly stood between the number 4 and 6 fairways on the Youghiogheny Country Club golf course. The house would have been across from the main entrance of Mount Vernon Cemetery. His family roots can be traced back to Scotland.
William Douglas married Margaret Howell (1814 – 1857) and together they had 8 children. When she passed he married Sarah Jane Stewart (1727 – 1866) and had 1 child. He then married Hannah Jane McClure (1822 – 1866) and had 1 more child.
Colonel Douglass and Margaret are buried in Mount Vernon Cemetery, as are his parents and many other family members. His house stood where the Youghiogheny County Club has its clubhouse.
The 1850 United States Federal census shows his occupation as farming. He owned a large amount of land, from his ferry in Boston up the hill to where the country club now stands and down towards Buena Vista.
Colonel Douglass served in the Civil War militia. He did not see action but had command of the Forks Artillery. All 3 of his adult sons served in the Civil War.
He help found Mt Vernon Church because the immediate community felt it was difficult to attend church at any of the established places of public worship. These were the days when good roads had not yet been established and it was difficult to get around, especially in bad weather.
Colonel Douglass was one of the first trustees and ruling elders of Mount Vernon Church. According to church records the last meeting of the elders attended by Colonel William Douglass was September 5, 1875, five months before his death. He served as clerk of session as well. Beginning with the organization of the church up to and including this meeting with very few exceptions, the minutes were in his handwriting.
He was also one of the Mount Vernon cemetery founders along with John K Graham and Alexander Rankin. Alexander Rankin donated part of his farmland for the first plot of ground, “the old part”. The first person buried in the cemetery was John Graham’s 10 year-old daughter Eliza.
Interesting fact: Senator William Douglass Mansfield (1878 – 1952) was the grandson of Colonel William Douglass and his namesake. William Mansfield was the publisher of the McKeesport Daily News from 1927 until his death in 1952. He also served as county commissioner.