3010 Pioneer Avenue, Pittsburgh,
PA 15226 * Phone 412-561-4520
The Episcopal Church of the Advent emerged
from a Sunday School begun in a home during the summer of 1904. Today, over 100
years later, the church is still serving it's congregation of parishioners from
Brookline and the surrounding South Hills neighborhoods.
The church was formed in large part
because of the spirit and enthusiasm of Mrs. Elizabeth A. Fleming, a landowner
of some stature in the early days of the Brookline community. The Flemings were
one of the early farming families, and they owned much of the land along the
southern stretch of Pioneer Avenue.
Mrs. Fleming was anxious to have a
church in West Liberty (Brookline was officially known as West Liberty Borough
at the time). Through Mrs. Annie Johnston, she got in touch with Colonel James
K. Blackwell of the Church Army and made arrangements for the Army to undertake
The first Sunday School Service was held
in the home of Mrs. Johnston, and conducted by Mr. James W. Seymour, Lay Reader.
This Sunday School and Service was started by the Church Army. Mrs. Johnston,
Mrs. Fleming, and Miss Lydia Fleming were the teachers. Attendance at the first
session was twenty-two.
On August 7, 1904, six children were
baptised by the Reverend Joseph Eames, Priest-in-charge of the Church of the
Incarnation in Knoxville. The following year, on June 4, the first service
under the auspices of the Laymen's Missionary League was conducted by Archdeacon
Flint and confirmed by Bishop Whitehead.
Mrs. Elizabeth A. Fleming
In 1906, on October 7, the first
confirmation was held. The class consisted of nine persons and was conducted
by Archdeacon Flint, Chaplain of the League. Most importantly, Mrs. Fleming
offered a site valued at $5000 for the erection of a Church, providing the
Chapel be constructed within a year. The new site had a frontage of 120 feet
on Pioneer Avenue and was 140 feet deep.
It took a little longer than a year
to get the new chapel built, but by June of 1909, the first services were being
held in the new schoolroom. The first service was held June 9, 1909, and was
conducted by Mr. Harry G. Tomer, a member of the Laymen's Missionary League.
By December, services were being held in the upper part of the building.
In July of 1909, the Reverend Charles E. McCoy, vicar of St. Mary's Church
in Pittsburgh, assumed charge and continued for one year.
On November 1, 1910, the Reverend Harvey
B. Marks assumed charge and led for the next 3 1/2 years. The following April,
the Reverend and Mrs. H.B. Marks took up their residence on Illinois Avenue.
Mr. Marks became the first resident clergyman.
In June of 1914, the Reverend Clarence
D. Frankel took over the Parish. Reverend Frankel was the first clergyman to
donate his entire time to this work. He remained with the Parish for thirteen
For several years the Church thrived.
In 1909, there were 160 confirmed members and 52 baptized. By 1919 there were
380 confirmed members and 163 baptized. Ten years later that number had grown
to 419 confirmed and 228 baptized. In 1919, a fund was created to be used to
provide a rectory. Half of the Easter Offerings were appropriated for this
The Church of the Advent, shown in
In 1924, ground was broken for the
enlarging and improving of the Church building. It was finished in November
as a cost of $18,000. The Reverend Thomas J. Bigham Assumed charge in November
of 1927, and the following February the house at 515 Fordham Avenue was
purchased for $13,000. This home became the new rectory. The Episcopal Church
of the Advent celebrated it's 25th anniversary in 1929, with Rev. Bigham
Reverend Thomas J. Bigham served the
Parish until his retirement in 1943. His many years of faithful service helped
to establish Advent as a center of community worship and activity. Next, the
Reverend Mr. Boyce officiated until 1945.
The Episcopal Church of the Advent,
shown in 1970s.
In 1946, Dr. Oliver Floyd, a distinguished
educator, came to Advent as a lay reader and preacher. Ordained to the
priesthood in 1947, he served until retirement in 1970. Under his leadership,
the Church became self-supporting in 1949 and continued to grow spiritually
and numerically. A new rectory was built in 1952 and major improvements (the
addition of the narthex and classrooms) were made to the church building in the
early 1960s. The Church of the Advent was known as an altar-centered church for
its daily celebrations of the Eucharist.
The Reverend James Shields became Rector
in 1970, with preaching and the music program as the main emphases of his
nine-year tenure. A Schlicker pipe organ was designed and built for the Church
in 1975. Other renovations made at the time included sanctuary redesign for a
In 1980, the Reverend John Van Siclen
began a six-year term as Rector. His ministry emphasized adult Christian
education, community action and outreach involvement, and a healing ministry.
Bishop Rt. Reverend Robert Duncan
and Reverend Katherine Brall.
The Reverend F. Graham Cliff assumed
charge in 1987, serving for seven years and focusing on preaching, teaching,
healing, prayer, and pastoral care of the elderly and those preparing for
marriage. The Reverend Katherine Brall began service with the Church in July,
1995. Her ministry emphasized teaching, prayer, pastoral care and education
for children and families.
With Reverend Brall's departure, the
Church entered a transition period. The Reverend Dick Pollard became
Deacon-in-charge, and under his leadership the Church of the Advent celebrated
it's 100th Anniversary in the summer of 2004. If the past is any indication of
what lies in store for the future, the Episcopal Church of the Advent will
continue to be a leader in the Community of Brookline and of the spiritual
well-being of it's many parishioners.
Thanks to Meg Kaufman
for providing this information on the Epicopal Church of the Advent.
* Last Modified - May 15, 2004 *