Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Belmont United Methodist Church

The first mission church of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Belmont United Methodist Church is an example of the more contemporary churches found on the suburban hilltops overlooking the city of Johnstown.

Belmont United Methodist Church began in a small chapel across Coldren Street in the early 1950’s, parallel to where the current structure stands. A survey taken by the Mission Boards of the former Evangelical and the United Brethren Churches on April 2, 1950 (ironically, Palm Sunday) determined that the need existed for a new church in the growing community of Belmont. Two years later—on Easter Sunday—the first official service was held in the new building, with 114 members in attendance. This “Christian Educational Building” presently serves as the Fellowship Hall and kitchen.

It was soon apparent, however, that a larger building was needed, so a second phase of construction was undertaken. The Board of Missions of the Evangelical United Brethren church assumed the debt from the first building, and the sanctuary of the new building was completed and dedicated on September 12, 1954. Within a decade, the second building's debt was paid off, with the help of two annual Cash Rally Days.

By the time the congregational meeting was held in 1969 to discuss the third phase of construction, the church had converted to Methodist from the UEB. A ballot was voted on and the decision was made to add an educational wing and pastoral office, whose concompletion was celebrated with a commemorative service on July 12, 1970.

Belmont United Methodist Church is one of many contemporary churches found in the Johnstown area, most found on the suburban hilltops overlooking the city, coinciding with the migration of middle-class families out of Johnstown city limits particularly after World War II.

The stained glass windows in the sanctuary vividly reflect light in multiple colors throughout the pews. In all, there are eight five-paned windows, each with its own symbolic image. Images like the Ten Commandments, the Bible, the Cross and a goblet are all present with magnificent illumination only seen inside during the day.

A plain wooden cross behind the choral seating on the altar may also be of interest. This cross measures approximately eight feet high and hangs on a wall, but has the appearance of sitting on a ledge. From the back of the sanctuary the cross appears larger and better lit, courtesy of the pleasant and smooth color of the sanctuary's glorious wooden plank ceiling.

The lower level Fellowship Hall is also worthy of a glance. This area seats 400 people in an 83’ X 40’ building and includes an industrial kitchen, as well as a large classroom.

Name: Belmont United Methodist Church
Location: 107 Coldren Street, Johnstown, PA
Religious Affiliation: Methodist
Date of Construction: 1952, 1954, 1970 (three phases)
Architect: Ross, Cramer, and Pawlowski
Building Style: Contemporary
Plan Type: Rectilinear
Primary Materials: Cinder-block construction, brick exterior and plaster/wood interior.
Status: Active

Church website
Interview with Pastor Keith Dunn
Bulletin from third phase Service of Dedication

researched by Alex Polacek

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