St. Paul’s is one of the oldest congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Our history began in 1828 when The Rev. William Hilton was called to establish a congregation in Kittanning Borough. In 2012 the parish celebrated the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the second church building. More of our history can be found elsewhere on this site. We encourage you to learn more about our history.
We are a congregation dedicated to living out our Baptismal Covenant in service to the large community. We seek and serve Christ in all people. All people are WELCOME. We are an inclusive and vibrant group of loving and caring people, spiritually and, at times, theologically diverse in the tradition of the Anglican Communion. We are actively involved in the community sponsoring an AA recovery meeting. In addition to supporting the local food bank, we also provide meals to the community every quarter. Members are engaged in recovery ministry, prison ministry, and serve as volunteer tutors.
No matter who you are, where you come from, or how you identify, you are always welcome in our community.
As early as 1822 efforts were made by the Episcopalians of Kittanning to secure aid in founding a church in their community. Dr. Samuel Neale wrote to the Bishop of Pennsylvania William White asking the Society for the Advancement of Christianity in Philadelphia to send a missionary to serve the Episcopal community.
On March 26, 1822, Bishop White wrote to Dr. Neale: “I have received your letter of 6th instant, and shall hand it to the committee of missions in order that if it should be in their power, during the ensuing summer, to employ a missionary to go beyond the mountain, there may be due attention to your request.
“The Society for the Advancement of Christianity in Pennsylvania feel most keenly the pressure of the times. We shall, however, continue to aid our distant brethren as much as the funds afforded to us will permit.”
Assisted by Robert Brown, Dr. Neale was successful in 1824 in establishing the first congregation of Episcopalians in the county.
Occasional preaching services were held in the courthouse before 1824 by the Rev. Mr. Thompson. When regular services began in 1824 celebrated by the first rector, the Rev. Moses P. Bennett, they were also held in the courthouse. These services continued there until the erection of a church on Water Street by the combined efforts of the Episcopalians and Lutherans in the county in 1830-31.
When the building was destroyed by a storm in 1845, the Episcopalians decided to build their own church. That edifice at 105 Water Street was a brick, one-story building with a vestry-room in the rear. The corner stone was laid on September 21, 1846, by Bishop Potter. The building was consecrated by Bishop Potter on August 27, 1847.
Work on building the present church, according to many probably the largest and most artistic edifice in the county, was begun 1n 1911, but a fire in the stone-cutting department of the firm engaged in the contract delayed the completion until 1913. The building is of two kinds of limestone from quarries in Ohio and Indiana. The total cost of the structure, with all its furnishings and stained-glass windows was estimated to be around $60,000 (or over $2.5 million in today’s dollars.)
Since its inception twenty-six Rectors and fifteen Bishops have overseen the ministry of St. Paul’s.
The paving of the street in front of the church was the big event in 1919. In 1920 it was the abolition of the assignment of pews, an age-old custom in the church as parishioners paid a “pew rent” to get the best seats in the house, if you will! That same year the Rector’s salary was raised to $2100 and the janitor received a raise of five dollars a month provided he “removes all the wood from the cellar not needed for fuel.”
On January 25, 1922, the church was consecrated and free of debt. Unfortunately a fire in the parish house resulted in $1850 in damage prompting the parish to purchase fire insurance the next year.
During the succeeding years Rectors came and went. In 1929 the parish had a planned budget for the very first time.
In 1959 a new rectory was purchased just up the street from the church and the old rectory, which had seen better days, was torn down to allow additional parking spaces for the parish. The rectory was eventually sold to allow the rector and his family to purchase their own home and to enable the parish to get out from under property management under than that of the parish and to allow the rector to gain equity in owning a home.
When a fire destroyed the Central Elementary School Building in 1965, the parish house housed grades one and two and the following year grades two and three. In gratitude the School District painted the inside of the parish house.
In 1972 the parish celebrated the sesquicentennial of its founding and in 2012 the hundredth anniversary of the new church building. As part of the latter celebration the parish entered into an agreement with the Trustees of the Diocese to borrow sufficient funds to cover the cost of sandblasting and pointing of the structure, replacing the roof and doing the remainder of the maintenance and repairs needed by a one-hundred-year-old building.
In 2022 we will celebrate our bicentennial and pray that, with a hoped-for growth in the local economy because of the exploding gas industry, our community and our parish will grow so that we can serve our Lord even more.