CLEARFIELD – The massive stone edifice stands on the corner of North Second and East Pine streets in Clearfield, across from the post office and beside the First Baptist Church.
Clearfield’s Presbyterian Church has been a landmark and local center of worship and community activity and is looking to the future during this 200th anniversary year.
According to church history, it is possible the “birth date” of the church is as early as 1809. However, the earliest records establish the names of two elders in 1818, and this is the date the church goes by for its anniversary.
Construction on the current building was begun in 1867, replacing a wooden structure built in 1841, and finished in 1869. The most striking feature, which still attracts attention today as part of Clearfield’s own skyline, is the 150 foot tall steeple.
Today the church is home to 240 members of all ages. Pastor Jimmy Hopper talked about the activities of the church, noting the pre-school that averages about 80-90 children, involvement with the Clearfield Ministerium association and how the church is very committed to giving to local organizations and non-profits with members deeply involved in the wider community.
Hopper said the church has a mission statement: “Salvation by faith alone, serving Christ alone.”
“Jesus Christ is the reason we exist,” he explained, “And we seek to be part of his body and branches.”
He added that when it comes to human relationships, “We prefer to err on the side of grace, not judgment. We hope when people worship here they feel like they’ve been hugged by God, so to speak.”
Hopper said the church family is very excited to be celebrating 200 years of being a part of the Clearfield community. Already the church has held several events marking the occasion, beginning in March when he was installed as the new pastor.
A new edition of the history of the church was published on April 29. And most recently, a performance of Handel’s Messiah, held in conjunction with the choral society, was held in the church on May 20.
There are more events planned for the year. On July 15, there will be an outdoor hymn sing and prayer service, and Hopper said they encourage the community to attend this event. He said they are working with the borough to hold this in one of the parks and there will be more information forthcoming as the date draws near.
On Sept. 9 at 10 a.m., the church will hold a celebratory worship service recognizing 200 years. Hopper said there will be a meal, proclamations from local and state representatives and more.
More events are being planned. Meanwhile, the church is putting together a collection of baby photos of members and holding a contest to see who can name the most people based on their baby photos.
A time capsule is also being put together. It will be opened in 2068 during the church’s 250th anniversary.
Hopper also wants the community to know that anyone is welcome at the church for services throughout the year.
Summer worship hours begin in June and include a praise service in the chapel at 8 a.m., Sunday school at 9 a.m. and a traditional service at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary.
After Labor Day, the hours change and he said those are advertised in advance. There is also an active youth group for grades 6-12.
Additionally, the church holds vacation bible school during the summer, partnering with three other churches. This year VBS will be held Aug. 6-10 in the evenings.
Hopper said the church welcomes everyone to come and celebrate this milestone with the church and to keep watch for additional events throughout the year.