First Presbyterian celebrates 170 years in Waverly

Rosalie Williams

March 2, 2012

First Presbyterian Church in Waverly is celebrating 170 years of service to God and community. The first of four quarterly-based special events will be a March 18 worship service conducted in a style typical of the church’s earliest days. A time capsule box made by Bristol resident Lew Stratton from wood harvested on his farm will be unveiled. A celebratory banner created by Waverly resident Ann Taylor will be introduced, and an extensive church history written by Elaine Oser Zingg will be available. The worship service will be followed by a catered dinner. The event is open to the public, but anyone wishing to stay for the meal needs to phone in a reservation.

First Presbyterian Church of Waverly was established in 1842 as an offshoot of the Presbyterian Church in Piketon, that dissolved in 1886. The original church building was erected at 122 E. North St. The German Evangelical Lutheran congregation also met there from its organization in 1858 until its building was erected in 1860.

In 1861, Waverly replaced Piketon as Pike County’s seat of government. During the following four years, until the new county courthouse was completed, common pleas court hearings were held in the Presbyterian Church building.

The original Presbyterian church was rebuilt in 1883, and remodeled a couple times since then. In 2001, the First Presbyterian Church moved into its current facility at 211 Schmitt Drive.

The current Presbyterian manse was donated to the church in 1950 by Irma Gehres Lorbach and her brothers, Hewitt and Lloyd Gehres. The Gehres family had moved to Waverly in 1866 where they founded a planning mill and lumber yard, and later maintained a furniture business.

In August 1961, the Waverly Presbyterian Church was one of four Presbyterian congregations that financed a successful bid on the HUD-foreclosed Bristol Homes development that was the original property for today’s Bristol Village. The Presbyterians were also one of the denominations active in the formation of the Pike County Outreach Council and have included its work in the church’s mission budget since its founding.