Biography of our Namesake, Rev. John McMIllan.
John McMillan (1752-1833) was a well-known Presbyterian minister and missionary. His Scots-Irish parents (William McMillan and Margaret Rea) came to Chester County from Ireland in 1742. He studied theology at Robert Smith’s Pequea Academy. He then attended Princeton at the age of 18, graduating in 1772. He was licensed at 22 under the Presbytery of Newcastle. He then traveled west on foot in 1775, preaching as he traveled. He married Catherine Brown in 1776. He was the founder of Pigeon Creek Church, and served there for 19 years. Afterwards he served at Chartiers Church for 47 years.
During the Revolutionary War and because of attacks from local Indians, McMillan moved his family to a cabin on Shanon Run, the east branch of Chartiers Creek in Washington County. He began teaching Greek and Latin to students in his log cabin. You can see the log cabin which is located at 25 East College Street in Canonsburg. Many of his students became well known ministers such as James McGready, William Swann, Samuel Porter and Thomas Marquis.
John McMillan was a very big man, 6 foot tall and weighing 200 pounds. He was known for having a very strong speaking voice. He served in the militia in 1782 and received a donation farm in Mercer County from the government. He collected donations to build the Canonsburg Academy and moved his log cabin students there. This school eventually grew to be Washington & Jefferson College. He is known for being one of the founders of the University of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Xenia Theological Seminary and the Western Theological Seminary. He educated over 100 ministers and preached
Our Church Founding
John McMillan Presbyterian Church began its ministry in the Bethel Park Area in October of 1966. JMPC was started 50 years ago by a group of 118 people
In 1965, Westminster Presbyterian and Pittsburgh Presbytery sponsored a pastor to plant a church in Bethel Park. The first service was held in September 1965 at William Penn School. Ground breaking for the first building took place in February 1966.
The first worship service, held in the current building, was on February 24, 1967 and excited members celebrated worship in what is now Fellowship Hall. The founding pastor was Rev. Richard Davis. He served at JMPC from 1965 – 1968.
After the church was built, the congregation took turns cleaning and taking care of the church. Because of frequent vandalism, all the members took turns performing security checks at the church in the evenings. The church congregation continued to grow and to attract members from not only Bethel Park, but surrounding communities.
There were many changes that would occur in the years to follow that first worship service, including the construction of a new sanctuary and the installation of two services on Sunday mornings. The congregation has always welcomed all visitors and has intensified its interest to serve the community through mission work.
In the mid 1970’s the John McMillan Preschool opened and continues to service young children and their families to this day. The community often uses the playground and the ball field located next to the church. Vacation Bible School is a successful outreach program that reaches hundreds of children each summer and A Christmas Affair has a reputation as one of the best fall craft and food fairs in the area. In recent years, a Columbarium was added to the outside of the church and members built a garden to support South Hills Interfaith Movement.
Throughout the years leadership at JMPC has been provided by the following pastors:
1965 – 1968 The Reverend Richard A. Davis
1969 – 1974 The Reverend Dr. Arthur D. Webster
1975 – 1986 The Reverend James O. Eby
1987 – 2000 The Reverend Daniel B. Merry
1995 – 2001 The Reverend Deborah Evanovich
2003 – 2013 The Reverend Charles H. Berthoud
2003 – 2015 The Reverend Louise H. Rogers
2014 – present The Revered Marshall Jefferson Tindall
John McMillan Presbyterian Church is celebrating its both year of founding in October 2016. Following a single service on October 16, current and former members and staff, as well as supporters, gather together to celebrate this auspicious golden anniversary. The luncheon is being held at Crowne Plaza near South Hills Village.