Cranberry Campus History
Dutilh Church began in 1844 with four families holding services in the Jones barn. The founding families were Detmore and Elizabeth Shaner of Beaver County and William and Jane Lonsdale after newly arriving from England. The original church was called Little Plains Church and Joshua Monroe served as the first official Pastor.
In 1878, Pastor J.M Swam recognized the growth in the area and the need for a bigger building. A site consisting of one-fourth of an acre was donated by Charles Dutilh of Philadelphia and two and a half additional acres had been added by 1961 to comprise the present site, parking area, and cemetery.
In 1963, Cranberry Township officials renamed a portion of Perry Highway/Route 19, Dutilh Road. By 1986, more expansion plans were being considered by Dutilh Church. However , on February 10, 1986, an arsonist, who was never found, set fire in the sanctuary and the church completely burned to the ground. Services were moved to the ballroom of the Sheraton Northwest until a new church could be constructed.
Previous building plans were scrapped, and a new church building was designed for the existing site. Ground breaking ceremonies were held, September 7, 1986. The current building was dedicated on September 24, 1988. In November of 2011, a lighted steeple was added to help us become a beacon at the crossroads of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Interstate 79.
Mars Campus History
In July 2010, after almost 6 months of study and discussion, Dutilh and Mars United Methodist Churches merged. Mars Church was a smaller membership church and had experienced a decline in membership. The teams from each congregation proposed a novel approach: becominga multi-site congregation. We would transform from two separate churches to one church meeting in two locations, sharing pastoral and lay leadership, community ministries, and organization.
The Mars United Methodist Church brought its own rich heritage into this union. The Mars congregation had its start in 1888 when five people met for the purpose of organizing a Methodist church. At this meeting it was decided to hold services in a storeroom on Railroad St. until a suitable location could be found. In 1889 the Reformed Presbyterian Congregation loaned the use of their building to the group for worship, and the first pastor was appointed. For several years the new Mars Methodist Episcopal Church shared a pastor with one or more other small Methodist churches in the area. In fact, up until 1911, Mars and Dutilh shared a pastor! While worshiping in their borrowed space the Mars congregation drew up plans for their own church building. A frame structure was built and dedicated in May of 1891. Some time later a lot was purchased on the corner of Lincoln Ave. and Barr St., and the first parsonage was built. For 11 years this first small church building functioned well. But increasing membership made it clear that the congregation would outgrow this first building. Ground was purchased at the corner of Pittsburgh St. and Lincoln Ave., our current site. In 1902 the first church building was torn down and all available materials were used in the construction of the new church. This new building was dedicated in May of 1903. In the 1920’s a balcony, additional classrooms and a kitchen were added, creating the church building we current use. By 1911 the Mars congregation has grown to the point that their membership could support a pastor without the need to share with other small churches. Since that time 28 different pastors served the Mars congregation. Through the 20th century the Mars congregation continued to grow. In fact, the growth of the congregation led to the construction of a separate Education Building in the early 1970’s. We continue to use that building for several community ministries. And, the home directly beside the church building was purchased for use as a parsonage. This beautiful brick home continues to be one of the assets of the Mars Campus.
While growing physically and in size of membership, the Mars congregation also grew in ministry with several community-focused ministries. In 1990 the MySchool Preschool was started, and continues to be a vital part of our Mars Campus community outreach. Later, the After School Program was starting, and also continues as part of the ministry of Mars Campus. It currently serves 30 students. With the merger, we created a multi-site structure: Dutilh Church, Cranberry Campus, and Dutilh Church, Mars Campus. In 2012 we began remodeling the Mars Campus, and initiated the Saturday evening New Day service.