Bellevue United Presbyterian Church is strongly traditional, but very responsive to the changing needs of our north boroughs’ community. We warmly welcome all people to participate in our shared life of faith and service, and we happily provide a venue for various other community groups to meet. We are especially eager to reach out to people with special needs: those struggling with addictions, the mentally ill, our aging population, and our growing refugee community.
The borough of Bellevue was founded in 1867, and in 1869 a Sabbath School was organized in the new public school building that had opened in 1868. The congregation of Bellevue U.P. Church was organized in 1872 by the founders of the Sabbath School. There were 21 initial members. In 1873 the first church building was built on donated land. By 1876 the congregation reported to the Presbytery that they were self-supporting and free of debt.
As the community of Bellevue has grown and changed, our Christian witness to the people of this once prosperous suburb has also expanded and adapted to those changes. When the current stone building was dedicated in 1901 there were 266 members in the church. By 1908 the church was already planning a mission to the Forest Avenue Hill district. This eventually became the Forest Avenue United Presbyterian Church. The support of overseas missions has always been a priority of the church. By 1919 we were supporting Rev. Hugh Milne who was working in India, and the Women’s Societies pledged their support of Miss Clarice Bloomfield who was doing mission work in Egypt. Through the years the number of missionaries supported by the church has grown. Three daughters of the church became missionaries themselves, and four sons of the church became ordained ministers; one of these, the Rev. James H. Grier, D.D., served as the president of Monmouth College.
Outreach and community service have always been a central concern of Bellevue U.P. Church. In 1909 the first Union Service for the Baccalaureate of the graduating class of Bellevue High School was held in our sanctuary. The church also helped to organize summer Union Services in Balph Park with other community churches. Some of these included concerts and cultural lectures. In 1917 as war raged in Europe, the Red Cross used our facilities for their meetings and their work. After World War II a Christian service organization, the UP Builders was founded. During the Camp Horne Flood, the UP Builders provided shelter and food for flood victims and actively participated in the community clean up.
Today, the congregation numbers just over 100, but the mission and outreach continue. We are pleased to be able to provide meeting space for a range of community groups, including Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Citizenship & Literacy Classes (for Nepalese refugees). Our Chapel is used for rehearsals by a local theater group, and we welcome community organizations such as Clean Water Action, New Horizons (a peer support group for those with a mental health diagnosis), the Assumption Church Theater Guild, and Kairos Outside (a ministry for people who have loved ones who are in prison). In addition, our members use the church kitchen to provide meals for Pleasant Valley Men’s Shelter on the Northside. We stock a small food pantry at the church for neighbors in need, and we collect and store clothing, household goods, and small furniture for newly arrived refugees. A monthly Spirituality Group is led for the New Horizons Peer Support Center, and a visitation team regularly goes to local nursing homes providing worship, music, and conversation for the residents. Today the congregation supports 12 missionaries around the world and contributes to 20 additional local and international mission organizations.
All of this is possible because our 114 year old stone building still stands on Lincoln Ave. near the heart of the Bellevue business district. The blackened stone façade of Bellevue U.P. Church reflects a long Pittsburgh history in which our beautiful sanctuary has been the focal point of our life together, and it continues to be a place of peace, inspiration, and hope for our congregation and for the community. Through worship, education, and a wide variety of ministries and missions the members of Bellevue U.P. Church have lived out their commitment to Jesus Christ in the borough of Bellevue for 143 years. With your help, we intend to continue this ministry for years to come.