The seeds of the City Rescue Mission were first planted during a spiritually exciting time in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Billy Sunday, a former major league baseball player and leading evangelist of his time, had a crusade in New Castle from September 18, 1910 to October 31, 1910. When Billy Sunday came to any town, he usually drew a big crowd. A special tabernacle was built – called The Arena – on Grove Street in New Castle for the event. Approximately 7,000 filled the tabernacle on the first Sunday, with 3,000 being turned away.
During his crusades, Billy Sunday often preached on caring for the least and lost of society and how he himself was saved at the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, IL. There was a massive revival in the city of New Castle where a reported 6,383 accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior during this Billy Sunday Crusade!
During Sunday's crusade in New Castle, PA, many who belonged to the local Personal Workers League attended and were influenced by Sunday's testimony and became seriously interested in founding a rescue mission in New Castle. At the invitation of the Personal Workers League, Melvin "Mel" Trotter, another prominent evangelist, visited New Castle in October, 1911 to assist in the formation of a rescue mission. Trotter, also a former drunkard who was saved at the Pacific Garden Mission, was then the Superintendent of the Grand Rapids Rescue Mission (now known as Mel Trotter Ministries) and the founder of 67 other rescue missions throughout the country. Trotter believed that rescue missions shouldn't compete with churches, but rather they should be an outreach or arm of the church reaching the "least and "lost of our communities.
Trotter assisted the Personal Workers League and Robert McKinney, a prominent member of the League, to found the City Rescue Mission. On October 18, 1911, at the Melvin Trotter meeting held at the First Baptist Church, between $2,500 and $2,600 was raised in pledges for a rescue mission. In today's dollars, the amount pledged would be about $58,000! Edward J. Berquist was appointed to be the first Superintendent. The City Rescue Mission began its work as a mission outreach of the local churches in the basement of Mr. McKinney's New Castle Notion Co. on South Mill Street and then shortly thereafter moved into the Marshall block building on South Croton Avenue. On November 25, 1911, the first draft of the Constitution was drawn up and a board of directors was chosen from various churches in order to ensure the best management of the Mission.
1921 - On March 28, 1921, the Mission was incorporated as "City Rescue Mission of New Castle, Pennsylvania."
1924 - The City Rescue Mission bought for $25,000 the former Vendome Hotel located at 17 S Mercer Street in New Castle. The City Rescue Mission was located here until 1961.
"A meal or a bed is provided for a man, women, boy or girl who happens to come to the city in an unfortunate condition. While their need, many times, would seem to be the material, more often it is the spiritual. The broken family ties, the selfish and egotistic view of life, the enslavement of appetite, the burdens of failure, the blighting of hope, having placed many in this condition, and furnishes an important reason why they should be given the Gospel and dealt with in a friendly, Christian way." - City Rescue Mission literature circa early 1920s.
1949 - Rev. F. Dickson Marshall is appointed the City Rescue Mission’s new superintendent. He is the youngest superintendent at the age of 23. He led the organization through its biggest growth and expansion period. He retired as Senior Director-Pastor in 1999 after 50 years of service.
The Women’s Auxiliary group is formed by Mrs. Phyllis Marshall. This organization of caring women tirelessly supported the work of the City Rescue Mission for more than 50 years.
1951 - An Industrial Department was created at the City Rescue Mission to provide a work program for men desiring rehabilitation. The Department eventually included a recycling operation and several Thrift Stores so that those in need could obtain clothing, furniture, and other items through the Helping Hand Stores or Lighthouse Shops. The Industrial Department stopped operations in 2002.
1952 - The Family Welfare Department, now known as the Family Care Ministry was founded. Social Workers visited homes and were called out to help those in need.
1957 - Construction is complete on the new rehabilitation center on Cascade Street. It’s dedication took place on September 24, 1957. Union members affiliated with the Lawrence County Construction and Building Trades Council volunteered many hours in the construction of this building. The building was later renamed in 1966 as the Elder Memorial Rehabilitation Center honoring Spurgeon Elder, the Center's first Industrial Superintendent. This building was destroyed in a fire in 1988 and was rebuilt by Shiderly Construction Co.
1958 - After shining for more than a quarter of a century, the Mission's old cross sign is removed. Ever a symbol of Rescue ministry, a new lighted cross sign was installed and dedicated on November 8, 1958. This sign still shines today as a beacon to the hurting and homeless at the Mission's current location at 319 S Croton Avenue. The message that Christ is the Mission's creed and that love is the Mission's law, and most of all, that Jesus Saves is just as relevant today as it was back in 1958.
1961 - The Mission purchases it's current headquarters located at 313-319 S Croton Avenue. The building was remodeled and was greatly expanded to 24,000 square feet. The building was dedicated for use on April 7, 1963. The Mission also celebrates it's 50th Anniversary.
1964 - The City Rescue Mission's long history of serving the needs of children is culminated in the creation of the Sankey Youth Program. The Program, still operating today, is designed to meet the spiritual, educational, and recreational needs of inner-city youth through after school and summer programs.
1965 - Mission Echoes was first broadcasted over the radio airwaves. This program became a weekly broadcast in 2001 until it ceased in 2003.
1967 - A building at 222 S Croton Avenue was donated as the Mission's first Sankey Youth Center.
1974 - The former Camp Eastbrook is acquired from the YWCA and is renamed Sherman Acres in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Sherman. Sherman Acres provided day camp facilities for the Sankey Youth Program until 1997.
An anchor from the U.S. Navy was transported from Philadelphia and placed on the property of Sherman Acres. This anchor now sits on the property adjacent to Covenant House Women and Family Shelter.
1976 - The Ramsey Building located across the street from the Mission's main building on Croton Avenue is acquired. This building housed several ministries over time including the Sankey Annex, Seconds for Less Thrift Store, and the Family Care Ministry. This building was eventually acquired by the City of New Castle and demolished for redevelopment. The site now is a parking lot.
1982 - The Inter-Church Food Bank is created as a service to local churches by the Mission's Family Care Ministry.
1984 - Bethesda Home, a Christian Crisis Pregnancy Center begins serving the needs of pregnant women. The Center operated until 1998.
1986 - The City Rescue Mission celebrates its 75th Anniversary.
1987 - Covenant House, a 16 bed emergency shelter for homeless women and families, is dedicated in August, 1987. The facility is located at Murphy Acres, a 10 acre parcel of property on the lower west side of New Castle purchased from the estate of Daniel Murphy in 1983.
1990 - The building located at 310 S Croton Avenue is acquired and becomes the current location of the Mission's Family Care Ministry and Administrative Offices.
1991 - The Hudson Memorial Educational Scholarship Fund is established in memory of Mr. L. Ivan Hudson to provide financial assistance to at risk youth who desire to further their education. The chairs in McKinney chapel are also dedicated in memory of Mr. Hudson.
1995 - The Sankey Memorial Education and Recreation moved to a new location at 125 Grant Street. The move gave the ministry 500% more building space.
1996 - The City Rescue Mission celebrates it’s 85th anniversary. Rev. Jerry Marshall is appointed as Executive Director-Pastor.
1998 - The City Rescue Mission introduces its new logo. The new logo shows that we are still "fishers of men, women and children." So when you see the sign of the "fish" you’ll know it’s us...your Mission.
1999 - After serving for 50 years, Rev. F. Dickson Marshall retires from service at the City Rescue Mission. A special event is held to honor his service. His wife, Phyllis, is also honored for her own work and faithful support of her husband.
2000 - Mr. Kevin A. Green is appointed first as Interim Executive Director and then in 2001 as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer.
2007 - Covenant Cottage, providing emergency shelter for homeless men with children is opened. The facility is located at Murphy Acres adjacent to Covenant House Women and Family Shelter.
2009 - The Mission undertakes an $85,000 renovation of it's dining hall/kitchen facilities. New equipment, flooring, talbes and chairs were installed.
2011 - The City Rescue Mission celebrates it's 100th Anniversary and publishes a 100- year history booklet filled with interesting facts and stories.
If you would like to obtain a history booklet or if you would like to share a personal story about the City Rescue Mission, please email send your request or story to email@example.com or give us a call at 724-652-4321 ext. 107.