FAIRMOUNT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS was chartered in October 1916 and incorporated on 7 December 1917. One of the largest Presbyterian churches in Cleveland, it grew out of Sunday school classes organized by Dr. PAUL F. SUTPHEN , of Second Presbyterian Church and his assistant, Rev. Edward C. Young. Classes met in private homes throughout 1912 and 1913 and then in a real estate office at the corner of Fairmount Boulevard and Wellington Road. In June 1915, the PRESBYTERIAN UNION erected a small frame chapel on a lot at the corner of Fairmount Boulevard and Coventry Road that it had purchased in October 1913. The Fairmount Boulevard Sunday School Association held Sunday school classes in the new building. Intent on establishing a permanent church, local residents held neighborhood meetings, launched fund-raising projects, and formed a Women's Aid Society. The Presbytery of Cleveland granted a charter to the Fairmount Presbyterian Church on October 23, 1916 and Dr. Herbert C. Hinds, moderator of the Presbytery, conducted the first service on November 5, 1916 for a congregation of 45 people. Reverend Percy Elwood Erickson of Newark, New Jersey, selected as Fairmount's first pastor, conducted his first service on June 3, 1917. On September 5, 1917, the chapel was destroyed by fire after a lighting strike. Just three weeks after the fire, however, the congregation gathered for worship in a white frame church built on an adjacent lot. With the acquisition of three adjoining lots on the corner of Scarborough Road and Fairmount Boulevard on June 24, 1921, the church had enough acreage to build a permanent sanctuary. Reverend Joel B. Hayden of Woodland Avenue Presbyterian Church became Fairmount's second pastor in February 1923 following the departure of Reverend Erickson on September 1, 1922. The Parish House, completed in September 1924 at the cost of $200,000, afforded the necessary space and facilities for the Bible school, Sunday adult worship, and other church groups. By 1930, however, the Bible school and Sunday adult worship were filled to capacity. Reverend Hayden left his post in early 1931 after accepting the position of headmaster at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio. Reverend Frank H. Ferris, who had led the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF EAST CLEVELAND from 1920 until 1926, became Fairmount's third pastor in September 1931. Once the $28,000 mortgage was paid off in 1937, the congregation launched a building campaign for a new sanctuary. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on June 22, 1941. Constructed of Ohio sandstone, the building featured a stone tower surmounted by a stone spire, a series of thirty-seven stained-glass windows created by the Dutch artist Joep Nicolas, and a pipe organ built by WALTER HOLTKAMP. The first service was held on March 29, 1942 and the formal dedication on April 18, 1942. Following the retirement of Reverend Ferris in January 1950, Reverend Richard Pacini came to Fairmount from the First Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut, in September 1950. The congregation marked the 40th anniversary of their church on October 14, 1956, with the dedication of a new chapel. During his decade-long tenure, Reverend Pacini worked tirelessly to promote understanding and fellowship between his congregation and the growing number of AFRICAN AMERICANS living in Cleveland Heights. He welcomed the first minority members to Fairmount, appointed an interracial study group to appraise the racial situation and its effect on the church and the community, and joined the Heights Association of Churches, a pastoral interracial study and action group. However, the social activism of Reverend Pacini proved controversial with some church members and the congregation became theologically, socially, and politically divided. Reverend Pacini left his post on August 31, 1966, after accepting the position of vice president at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Reverend Robert Haring served as interim pastor until the installation of Reverend Dr. John Magill of the Presbyterian Church in Abington, Pennsylvania, as Fairmount's fifth pastor on November 4, 1967. In 1968, Fairmount funded the construction of a housing development, Fairmount Village, consisting of 22 two-story townhouses at East 90th Street and Hough Avenue in the HOUGH neighborhood. In the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, Fairmount established a cooperative ministry with the Greater Avery African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, located East 75th Street and Wade Park Avenue. After Reverend Magill's departure in December 1972, Fairmount had two interim pastors, Reverend Stuart Paterson (1973-1974) and Reverend Steven Palmer (1974). On February 10, 1974, Reverend Dr. Henry W. Andersen of LaGrange, Illinois, became Fairmount's sixth minister. He welcomed inner-city adults with special needs into Fairmount for worship, Bible study, and fellowship as part of Project Renewal which he launched in 1978. In December 1979, Reverend Andersen founded the Cleveland Covenant Concept to bring together business and labor leaders, urban and suburban officials, and blacks and whites from varying economic rungs to overcome fragmentation and promote cooperation in Greater Cleveland. A conference at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY's Law School sponsored by the Cleveland Covenant and the INTERCHURCH COUNCIL OF GREATER CLEVELAND led to the formation of the GREATER CLEVELAND ROUNDTABLE, a multiracial urban forum of over two hundred civic leaders from every segments of life in the Greater Cleveland area, in 1981. Reverend Andersen also organized an international conference at the World Council of Churches' Retreat Center in Switzerland in July 1981, marking the first time that a local congregation held such a meeting. After members of Fairmount's Mission Study Group traveled to Costa Rica in 1984, the church instituted two programs: Crossroads to sell products produced in Central America and Bibliotecas to supply books to libraries in Central America. In 1989, Fairmount formed a joint covenant with MT. ZION CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, United Church of Christ, to work and worship together. Reverend Andersen retired from his post in January 1990 after reaching the age of 65. Reverend Bruce G. Ingles served as interim pastor until the appointment of Reverend Kent M. Organ of St. Mark's Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, as Fairmount's seventh pastor on July 14, 1991. During his tenure, Reverend Organ promoted ecumenical cooperation among the various Christian congregations in the Greater Cleveland area and encouraged greater inclusion of minority families at Fairmount. In November 1996, a $779,000 pipe organ, built by the Schantz Organ Company of Orrville, Ohio, was installed at the church. Following the departure of Reverend Organ in 2001, Reverend Louise Westfall of First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Michigan, became Fairmount's first female pastor.

Article Categories