PITTSTON — The congregation of the Second Presbyterian Church began celebrating the church’s 125th anniversary on the holiest day of the year for Christians, Easter Sunday.
The church, located on Parsonage Street, held Easter services that included accepting new members Amanda and Nathan Thomas and Sarah Wescott, all of Duryea, into the church.
After Wescott and the Thomas family were pronounced new church members, Rev. Rebecca Tanner, interim pastor, baptized Wescott and 2-month-old Aaron Thomas, son of Amanda and Nathan Thomas.
The Second Presbyterian Church is rich in history and currently boasts an active 80 family membership and another 80 family and friends who support the church.
In the late 1800s, there was a strong influx of Italians to America, in particular, to the Greater Pittston area. Most Italian immigrants were Roman Catholic but a few Protestants also needed a place to worship.
The Presbytery in Scranton saw the need as well and sent Rev. D’Anna, an Italian missionary, to lead local Protestant Italian immigrants, establishing a church under recently ordained Rev. Joseph Vitale. Although Vitale was not ordained when the church was organized, he became the first ordained minister to the Italian Mission.
Michael Delconte, 85 of Pittston, has been a member of the Second Presbyterian Church his entire life.
”This is an old congregation and we’ve got a lot of people,” Delconte said of the fluctuating membership over the years. “All of the pews downstairs and up in the balcony were always filled. It’s been so family oriented and it’s been great to see marriages of family members over the years.”
Delconte recalls how all the services in the early days were delivered in Italian. He goes on to recall Rev. Alexander Turco was one of the longest running ministers with the Second Presbyterian Church, serving from 1939 to 1953.
Several family members have been members for decades. Along with Michael Delconte’s family, the Lucarella family has been and continues to be very active with the church.
The Thomas family began its membership on Easter where Nathan Thomas looks for a long tradition with the Second Presbyterian Church.
“To me, the church is about the people and the people make up the church,” Thomas said. “The congregation here are welcoming and that’s really, for us, the reason why we chose this church. The people that go here are enlightened.”
Amanda Thomas is no stranger to the Second Presbyterian Church because her brother is also a member.
Strong family bonding is evident throughout the church, especially during the last 15 months when Rev. David Brague moved on, leaving the church without a leader.
The congregation has been actively looking for a replacement for Rev. Brague, to no avail. In the meantime, Rev. Rebecca Tanner of the Ashley Presbyterian Church has been filling in since January 2017.
Rev. Tanner is no stranger to the Second Presbyterian Church, having filled in prior to the arrival of Rev. Brague.
“I enjoy being with this congregation, the music and everything together is very welcoming,” Rev. Tanner said. “They love their Italian roots.”
According to Rev. Tanner, the Second Presbyterian Church will focus on looking for an interim pastor to a full-time pastor to lead the church into the future.
Over the course of 2018, the Second Presbyterian Church will continue to celebrate 125 years with several events yet to be announced.