Religion has played an important part in the life of Apollo’s families through the years with the earliest church, the Presbyterian, meeting before the town of Warren was even laid out. On June 3, 2018, the Apollo Area Historical Society presented a powerpoint program featuring many churches and their histories. Here are the pictures of the churches with a bit of their history and current location if the church is still meeting.
Warren/Westminster Presbyterian Church
The Warren/Westminster Presbyterian Church was a part of the Poke Run Church as early as 1814 with Elders James Guthrie & James Jackson providing services. Meetings were held in Samuel McKee’s barn. When lots were laid out in 1816, two lots were donated for a meeting house, school, and cemetery. The stone church was built in 1826. The Warren Presbyterian Church was renamed Apollo Presbyterian Church in 1848. In 1878 a red brick & stone building was built about 200 feet from original bldg. The first pipe organ was installed in this church in 1896 and the first organist for the new pipe organ was Miss Bess Jackson, the mother of actor Jimmy Stewart. She was the organist for about 10 years. The present day church was built in 1906. The stones were quarried from the Hilty farm south of Apollo by Mr. T.M. Willard with helpers. Mr. Willard dressed the stone & laid them up while some present members and others helped by mixing mortar, carrying it and the stone to the builders. In 1968 a new Education Center was constructed to accommodate Sunday School classes and the administrative offices. It was known as the Westminster Church at the time of the merger with Calvin United Presbyterian in 1970. It is now the Apollo United Presbyterian Church.
Calvin United Presbyterian Church
The Calvin United Presbyterian Church was organized about 1830. The first church building was erected in 1868. It was 32 x 45 feet. There was no cellar excavation. It was a hewed mortised frame building. The weatherboarding was put on in a perpendicular position and the seats were homemade. The next building, on 423 N. 2nd Street, was built in 1885 and was about 38’ by 65′ divided into rooms with folding doors between. In a short time the building was raised, the cellar excavated and a wall built. This furnished 2 good rooms in the basement. A parsonage was erected in 1891 and was located diagonally across N. 2nd Street from the church. The building was extensively remodeled around 1912 with an addition put to the west side, making the building 48’ by 65’. This included moving the pulpit from the south end of the sanctuary to the west side with a new pipe organ installed. This plan then gave five separate rooms downstairs. New seats, new pulpit furniture, and new glass in the windows greatly improved the usefulness and attractiveness of the sanctuary. The seating capacity was in excess of 400. In 1953 another building project was undertaken with the addition of 6 new Sabbath School rooms, a pastor’s study, washrooms and a new and enlarged kitchen. The congregation merged with the Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1970 and began meeting in the current UP building as the Apollo United Presbyterian Church. The building was sold to Sovereign Grace Baptist in 1999, then later became a private residence with a work out center in the basement.
Union Evangelical Lutheran Church
The Union Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in March 1859 and shared ministers with the Spring Church and Maysville Lutheran congregations. The first building was dedicated in 1863. This building was on First Street and cost $1,500. It was renovated in 1875 and enlarged in 1887 when the tower was added. In 1894 the church basement was excavated for Sunday School classrooms. The pipe organ was installed in 1904. In 1918 the name was changed to the First United Evangelical Lutheran Church. A new building was erected on the corner of PA & N. 3rd St. in 1926. The large church facility has served the community for combined worship services & memorial services for fallen heroes including military personnel and Apollo Patrolman Leonard Miller.
First Baptist Church
The First Baptist Church was founded by William Rodgers of the Rodgers & Burchfield Steel Company. On Jan. 26, 1868 the first service was held in the borough’s school house. They met there for five years until moving to a church near the old canal in 1873. The land & building was donated by the Rodgers & Burchfield Steel Company. One of the walls of that building collapsed and a new building was erected in 1896 with a tower and Town Clock. After the flood of 1936, there was extensive damage, but the congregation revamped & rededicated the building in 1937. In 1974 the congregation bought the Shrine of Sts. Cosmos & Damien on Owens View and sold the building on Railroad Ave. to the Bible Presbyterians.
Bible Presbyterian Church of Apollo
The Bible Presbyterian Church of Apollo met in the Spring Church Grange Hall on July 9, 1972. The congregation moved to the former First Baptist Church of Apollo later in 1972. The first pastor was Rev. Burton Toms, 1974 until 1988. The clock tower, built in 1896, became one of the most recognizable landmarks of Apollo. Unfortunately the tower suffered extensive water damage and was torn down in 1984.
Shrine of St. Damien & St. Cosmos
The Shrine of St. Damien & St. Cosmos On March 16, 1935, Pete Sabatelli had his first vision from St. Cosmas while lying in a sickbed. St. Cosmas was accompanied by six little angels. He set up a chapel in his apartment dedicated to St. Cosmas and St. Damian. He was told in one vision to open this chapel or shrine to the public. It was opened on Sunday morning, March 17, 1945 at 8:30 o’clock. In order to carry out the wishes of St. Cosmas, Pete Sabatelli on Jan. 31, 1946, purchased 2 1/2 acres of land from Ban Owens in Kiski Township on the Apollo-Indiana road (now Rt. 56), overlooking Apollo borough. The shrine, according to his instructions, was to be built in 1948. The building of the Shrine was started on May 29, 1947 and was completed November 10, 1948. On a hillside facing Route 56 a mile East of Apollo, Pa, there stands for the everlasting Glory of God the most beautiful stone edifice — the House of Prayers — the Shrine to St. Cosmas and St. Damian, which as requested by St. Cosmas was opened to the public on May 29, 1949.
Apollo Assembly of God
The Apollo Assembly of God began meeting in 1939 meeting in a building on N. 8th & Warren Avenue. In the late 1950’s property was purchased from the Owens estate and construction began on a new building. In Oct. 1957, the first service was held in the foundation of the building. On April 27, 1970, a dedication service was held in the building which is located on First Street.
First United Church of Christ
In June 1892, John Naly, a student from the Theological Seminary in Lancaster, came to Apollo to establish a mission here. The congregation was organized on June 26 with 24 members. During the summer of 1893, the property on the corner of Warren Ave. & South Second St. was purchased for $4,000. The church was dedicated in March, 1894. In 1922 a new brick parsonage & garage were constructed. By 1930 the “Little Old Church” was found be in an unsafe condition. The old church was demolished and the new church construction began in September 1931. The project was too costly during the depression and only the basement was completed. In January, 1959, a check was given from an unnamed donor to complete the church with matching funds from the congregation.
The dedication of the new church building was Oct. 23, 1960. The dream of a beautiful church became a reality. The church continued until 2018 when it closed due to low membership.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses were started in 1939 and moved to Vandergrift in 1943. The congregation built a Kingdom Hall in Spring Church in 1970. The building is now home to Edgewood Winery.
St. James Church
St. James Church’s first mass was held in 1884 in the Uncapher Bldg. on N. 4th Street. The Apollo Parish was established in 1885, meeting in the home of James Reynolds, then in the skating rink on Warren Avenue. A small church was built in Pegtown. (now used as a private residence) In 1926 masses were held in Gianini Bldg. until 1929 and then in private homes through 1944. The new church was built in 1954 with the school opening in 1955. The school closed in 1998.
First United Methodist Church
By 1830 there were enough Methodists in Apollo to desire a church building. The exact date when the old log church on Second Street. was built is unknown. There is a portion of an old bulletin which gives the date as 1838. This church was one story and of frame construction. It stood at the rear of the present building and was occupied as a residence for the Sue Rudolph and Schaeffer families. In this old church were about 10 pews with high backs; the rest were long boards underpinned with cross legs. The high backed pews were auctioned off to the highest bidder. In 1844, the Trustees sold the lot. In Nov. 1845, a lot was purchased from John & Nancy Speer. In 1851 a two story brick church was built. In 1899, the old building was torn down and in 1900 the current church was dedicated. Andrew Carnegie donating the pipe organ in 1902. This organ was replaced by a Tellers Organ in 1971. In 2009 the church moved to a new building in Spring Church & was renamed “New Beginnings United Methodist Church.” The former building was gifted to New Life Baptist Church.
New Life Baptist Church
The New Life Baptist Church is in the former United Methodist Building on N. 2nd Street. The congregation began meeting around 1920 in Vandergrift, before moving to a small school house in Parks Township. In May 2010, they moved to the building on N. Second Street.
Apollo Free Methodist
The Apollo Free Methodist began meeting in 1895 and rented space in Fiscus Hall. The Church building on corner of PA and N. 6th Street was erected in 1896. In 1997 they moved to the former Calvary Bible Church on Rt. 56E. In 2005, a new sanctuary & fellowship hall was built. In Sept. 2016 the church celebrated its 120th anniversary as a local church.
Calvary Bible Church
The Calvary Bible Church met in 1955 in a private home (previously owned by Dorothy Whitlinger Rowland) on 115 North Pennsylvania Avenue until the congregation erected a brick building in 1976 on Rt. 56 in Orchard Hills. That building is now used by the Apollo Free Methodists
Shiloh Community Baptist Church
The Shiloh Community Baptist Church began meeting in the Diamond Hall in 1900. The congregation moved to a chapel on Warren & Eleventh Street in 1903. In 1914 a new brick building was erected on N. Warren Avenue. The church building has been purchased by a family.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Spring Church
The first available record of the church is dated August 22, 1841, although it is believed that the church actually began in 1839. Services were held from 1841 to 1871 in the “Union Church” building, located across the field from the present church. The Union Church was built in late 1840 near a cemetery. It was called the Union Church because it was used jointly by the Presbyterian, German Reformed, and Lutheran congregations. The building was a small frame structure 45’x 60’. It was a low building, unpainted, with three windows on each side. There was a bare floor inside and very little light. The pews were four benches, each 10 feet long, quite uncomfortable, and arranged directly in front of the pulpit. In 1871, the building was sold to the Presbyterians and the Lutherans built their own church nearby in Oct. 1871. In 1955 nine acres of ground was purchased and a new building erected. This building was dedicated on Aug. 29, 1961.
Boiling Springs Presbyterian Church
The Boiling Springs Presbyterian Church was established in 1840 first meeting in
the home of Charles Means. The Boiling Springs congregation left in 1871 and built their own church; four pot-bellied stoves, placed throughout the sanctuary, provided the only heat. A decision was made to enlarge the building. First the basement was dug in 1936 with a furnace installed. The Sunday School rooms & kitchen were added in 1951. In 1920 a building committee was formed to make plans for a new church building. In 1982, the new building was completed on Rt. 56 E in Kiski Township.
Cemeteries of Spring Church
There are three cemeteries at Spring church:
1. Spring Church Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery
2. Spring Church Joint Cemetery (early burials of both the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches)
3. Boiling Springs Presbyterian Cemetery which in 2009 was called “Fairview Cemetery”.
The Joint cemetery is the original portion of the Spring Church Cemetery. There was an original Lutheran church and an original Presbyterian church, both of which have been torn down, with new versions of each constructed very close by to the Spring Church Cemetery. During the early days, individuals from both the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches were buried in the same cemetery, which is called the Joint Cemetery by the present-day members of both the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches.
At some point, The two churches decided to have their own cemeteries. The Lutheran Cemetery is west of the Joint Cemetery. The Presbyterian Cemetery is north and east of the Joint Cemetery. At the Apollo Memorial Library, there is a 2001 cemetery reading of the entire Spring Church Cemetery by Hall and Pruet. This report has a map.
Today, the Lutheran church maintains the Lutheran Cemetery. The Presbyterian church maintains the Presbyterian Cemetery (now called “Fairview Cemetery”). Both churches contribute to a fund which maintains the Joint Cemetery.
First (N. Apollo) Church of God
The First (N. Apollo) Church of God began meeting in Cochran’s Mills in the early 1900’s, then in the Vandergrift area by the 1920’s. In 1930 they built a wooden tabernacle on Wilson Ave. which was replaced by brick bldg in 1932 and a Christian Ed. unit was added in 1964. A new sanctuary & Christian ed. building was built over the next 6 years (late l970’s) on the corner of M Street and 29th Street. The large property includes an outdoor picnic pavilion, recreation area, and parking lot. The former sanctuary on Wilson is used for offices and a fellowship hall.
Zion AME Church
The Zion AME Church was organized in 1895. The church was located on the grounds of the Apollo Steel Company.
The Apollo Faith Chapel
The Apollo Faith Chapel started in 1945 in the home of Rev. JR Swauger. As they
grew, they began to meet on the third floor in former Malta Hall bldg. They moved to an abandoned school bldg. in N. Apollo. In 1958 a new church was built on the site of Malta building which burned in 1956, They became the Apollo Faith Chapel in 1967. The congregation recently disbanded and the building is currently for sale.
The Orchard, formerly known as Orchard Hills Christian Fellowship is located on Kings Road, approximately 2 miles from Apollo. The church sits on 100+ acre farmland which was gifted to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Shellhammer in the late 1950’s. The grounds also house the Orchard Hills Christian Academy which has been providing education to the surrounding communities for nearly 40 years.
Christian Church of North America
The Christian Church of North America had its beginnings in 1928 when several Italian families began to meet to worship in the home of Mary Sposito. When the
congregation became too large, they began to meet in the afternoon at the First Baptist Church of Apollo’s building, then in the Shiloh Baptist Church. In 1937 through a donation from Pastor Alfredo Casagni, property was purchased on North 3rd Street and the church building was open in March 1938 for services. It’s a private residence today.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the churches of Apollo. If there is any information or pictures you would like to add, please do so in the comments sections. The Apollo Area Historical Society would love to hear from you.