This article was originally written by Rev Robert Fullerton, first pastor of the present church.
" The Manchester Congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanter) began as a 'society', a part of the Ohio Congregation. This group first met around 1795, in the home of John Anderson who lived near Little Puckety Creek. It was known as the Puckety Society. Samuel Milligan moved into the area about 1802, and in 1804, received a land patent from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania known as Manchester. These two families were among the earliest settlers in the area to become known as Milligantown. Mr. Milligan, and elder in the RP Church, had a church built on the corner of his farm around 1820, and in 1844, Mr. and Mrs. Milligan deeded two acres of land, including 'building improvements, woods, ways,watercourses, rights, and liberties' to the 'Reformed Presbyterian Church or Old Side Covenanters... to be used, kept and held as a church yard and place of religious worship..forever'. Thus, the church came to be known as Manchester instead of Puckety.
The register of members in full communion in the Manchester Society in June 1851, included the following names: Elders: John Ross and Samuel Milligan; Margaret Ross, Jane Ross, James Stuart, Mrs. Stuart, Thomas Rowan, Elizabeth Rowan, Robert Rowan, Anna Rowan, John Hunter, Mary Ann Hunter, Mary Hunter, Sarah Hunter, Robert Anderson, Anna Anderson, James Nelson, Nancy Nelson, John Reed, Martha Reed, Alexander Miller, Elizabeth Miller, John Dunn, Sarah Dunn, John Crooks, Katherine Crooks, Eleanor McLaughlin, Elizabeth McLaughlin, Jane Hill, Margaret Rowan and Mrs. Ann Marshall. The pastor at that time was the Rev Oliver Wylie, who also served the Brookland Society near Freeport.
Mr. Milligan died in 1862, and was buried in the cemetery alongside the Manchester Church. Another cemetery was started in about 1899, when one of the church members was offended by some church actions and removed the bodies of his frients from the church cemetery to his own farm on Hunter Hill. Gravestones are present in both cemeteries, but neither is being used today. After the Civil War, with farm families beginning a movement to new urban communities, many of the Manchester members moved to the Borough of Parnassus and built their own place of worship in 1871. In 1889, the new Parnassus Congregation was organized, most of the charter members coming from the roll of the Manchester Congregation. The Rev James C McFeeters came to the Manchester-Parnassus Congregation and was installed in a service at the Manchester Church on June 19, 1874. Church, Sabbath School, and the Women's Missionary Society flourished under his leadership until he resigned in 1888.
Dr. McFeeters preached in both churches each Lord's Day, riding horseback between them. From 1886 until 1888, he also preached in the Brookland Church, extending his horse ride each week. In 1889, Parnassus was given separate existence, and Manchester was united with the Brookland Society. this new Congregation gradually declined, until Manchester was disorganized in 1904, and Brookland united with Parnassus in 1933. Around about 1904, the old Manchester building was razed and the timbers used in the construction of a local barn.
In the early 1940s, religious classes were sponsored by the Parnassus Congregation in the new Upper Burrell Elementary School, when the pastor of the Parnassus Congregation, Rev Phillip Martin, lived at Merwin. When Alcoa announced plans to build a new research center in the Upper Burrell Township, there was no church activity in the vicinity. Because of the expected development, and because the church still owned the old Manchester property, the Parnassus Congregation began a renewal of church work in Upper Burrell. Worship services were held weekly in the Upper Burrell Elementary School starting December 1, 1957. The next spring a Chapel was begun on the old church site, on Manchester Hill, and was dedicated September 27, 1958. For the next two and one-half years, worship services were held both in the Parnassus building and in the Manchester Chapel. On June 4, 1961, the last service was held in Parnassus, and the Congregation officially moved to the Manchester site. In 1962, a parsonage was built beside the chapel. In 1963, a classroom addition was added, and in 1969, and attractive sanctuary was completed over the classroom area. The original chapel now serves as a fellowship hall.
The Rev Robert R Fullerton, called to be the pastor of the Parnassus congregation in 1956, has led in this renewal of the Manchester Church and congregation. It is of historical interest that in February, 1872, Mrs. Cannon, wife of the first pastor of the New Alexandria RP congregation wrote in the REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN: 'New Alexandria became a regular place of preaching in 1819. The field was a promising one, and in order to cultivate it, Mr. Cannon gave up the Thompson Run and Puckety Branches, they being the strongest and most wealthy." It is interesting to note, that in the Providence of God, Mr Fullerton, born and raised in the New Alexandria Congregation, should be the one to lead in this renewal of old Puckety, now Manchester.'
The present membership of the congregation numbers about 90. (this was written in 1979). the membership includes the Lowell Zadai family. Mrs. Zadai is a great-great- granddaughter of John Hunter, listed on the Manchester roll in 1851. She is also a great-great-great-great granddaughter of John Anderson in whose home the first Covenanter Society meetings were held.
The present members of the session (*again, 1979) are : James Blair, William Swank and Michael Mastorovich. Lowell Zadai is chairman of the congregation and Laura Berdyck is the secretary. The congregation holds an annual Vacation Bible School and summer camp program that serves many in the community, not members of the congregation. The church building use is increasing by groups in the community.
As the Manchester Congregation looks to its early days in Upper Burrell Township, it also looks to the future with the desire of service to its Lord and its community for many, many more years."
Contributed by Marilyn Blair for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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