Around 1796, German immigrants began holding worship services on a farm belonging to Jacob Klingenschmidt, on what is now the site of the Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Allegheny Township, at the corner of West Leechburg and Pleasant Hill Roads. The congregation was officially organized September 5, 1814 at the farm, and a brick church was soon erected. In 1860, the congregation passed a resolution to meet with the city church, at what is now Hebron Lutheran Church, at the corner of Main and Second Streets.
Some unfortunate circumstances led to a division between the Hebron congregation and that which became First Lutheran Church, the congregation we are today. By 1872, a brick building was erected at the corner of Market and Main Streets.
The rapid growth of the steel industry brought tremendous population and economic growth to the Leechburg Community also brought significant growth to the church. In 1903, our current sanctuary was erected, with a parsonage built next door a short time later.
The St. Patrick's Day Flood of 1936 devastated the cities and towns located on the shores of the Kiskiminetas and Allegheny Rivers. The icy waters reached just above the floor level of our church building. The full extent of the damage was not fully realized until nearly two decades later, when the wooden beams supporting the church floor were found to be severely rotted, and the building was subsequently condemned.
The congregation quickly banded together the funds to launch a massive reconstruction of the entire building, which was rededicated in 1962. The parsonage was also renovated and connected directly to the main church building, and has housed the Sunday school, church offices, and the Spider Web, an after-school hangout for the community's youth during the 1960s and 70s.
In 1988, a 28-chime carillon was dedicated, which still plays music every day at noon at 6 p.m.
The steel industry, which began declining in the 1980s, brought a gradual economic and population decline to the region. With the children and grandchildren of longtime residents leaving the area, worship and Sunday school attendance began to decline.
Nevertheless, our congregation remains focused on the mission of Jesus. In 2012, we launched our Clothing Closet Ministry, which expanded into its current space in 2015. Over 200,000 pieces of clothing have been distributed. In 2014, we began our GriefShare grief support ministry, which holds 13-week sessions in the spring and fall seasons. We have remained committed to serving God's children with an annual Easter Egg Hunt, Vacation Bible School, and other family-oriented activities throughout the year. In 2018, we adopted the slogan "Everyone Belongs" because the Church is not a club made up of perfect people, but is a hospital for sinners and a refuge for the weary (Matthew 9:13, 11:28-29). Christ's mercy knows no limits. Our strength as a church is in our love for one another.
Like the people of Leechburg, we are passionate about caring for our neighbors and striving to make our community a better place. But we also recognize that we must change to meet the needs of an ever-changing world. In 2022, a multi-generational team formed to prayerfully discern God's future directions for our church. Our goal is to ensure that the love of Jesus continues to meet real needs and heal real hurts for years and decades to come.
In April 2023, a capitol campaign was launched to restore the carillon, which fell silent in October 2022. The cost of this project is projected to exceed $30,000.
We pray that we may be blessed by being a part of your life story, and that you will be blessed as we follow Jesus together in faithfulness and hope.
-Adapted from "The History of Our Church" compiled my Margaret Krecota