CITY RESCUE MISSION

OUR HISTORY


1910


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!

1911


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 alcoholic 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.

"It is our aim to help those in need. When a man is hungry and hunts us down, we feed him. When he is tired...we find him a bed. If he is out of work, we try to get him a job. If discouraged, we try to cheer him." - Edwin Berquist (1913)

1920s


On March 28, 1921, the Mission was incorporated as "City Rescue Mission of New Castle, Pennsylvania."

The Mission purchases the former Vendome Hotel on South Mercer Street in 1924 for $25,000. A new electric sign was installed on the front of the Mission building in 1926. In October 1928, Benjamin J Watkins, who had been converted at the Mission in 1912, became the second superintendent.

1930s


The Mission provided great assistance to many during the Depression. The Mission assisted community families in need of food and fuel, including wood and free milk. In March, 1937, Archie Gibson became the third superintendent of the City Rescue Mission.

1940s


In 1941, the Mission began its own radio program, "Back to Hope Hour," on WKST offering encouragement and hope through the airwaves. The Mission was holding evangelical street meetings three times a week. On October 1, 1942, Rev. Donald R. Wert became the fourth superintendent of the City Rescue Mission. In 1944, a program similar to a second hand store where donated items were sold for a nominal price, but were offered free to those who could not pay. In 1948, Rev. Cyril Smith becomes the fifth Mission superintendent.  In 1949 Rev. F. Dickson Marshall was appointed the City Rescue Mission sixth 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. Also in 1949, 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. In the summer of 1949, The Lighthouse newsletter begins publication and is still in production today.

1950s


In 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 ceased operations in 2002. In 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. In 1957, construction is complete on the new rehabilitation center on Cascade Street. It’s dedication took place on September 24, 1957. 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. In 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.

1960s


In 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. A Medical Mission Project provided weekly care. In 1964, the City Rescue Mission's long history of serving the needs of children is culminated in the creation of the Sankey Youth Ministry. Today, programs for youth are designed to meet the spiritual and recreational needs of inner-city youth through sports activities and special events. In 1965 "Mission Echoes" radio program was first broadcasted over the radio airwaves. This program became a weekly broadcast in 2001 until it ceased in 2003. In 1967, a building at 222 S Croton Avenue was donated as the Mission's first Sankey Youth Center.

1970s


The former Camp Eastbrook is acquired from the YWCA 1974 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 Hope Place, the Mission's emergency shelter for women and children. In 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. In 1977, the Mission depended on recycling for 46% of its support

1980s


The Inter-Church Food Bank is created in 1982 as a service to local churches by the Mission's Family Care Ministy. In 1984, Bethesda Home, a Christian Crisis Pregnancy Center begins serving the needs of pregnant women. The Center operated until 1998. In 1986 the City Rescue Mission celebrates its 75th Anniversary. Covenant House, a 16 bed emergency shelter for homeless women and children, 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 that was purchased from the estate of Daniel Murphy in 1983. In 2015, the name of the facility was changed to Hope Place.

1990s


The building located at 310 S Croton Avenue is acquired in 1990 and becomes the current location of the Mission's Family Care Ministry and Administrative Offices. In 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 Sankey Memorial Education and Recreation moved into its new location at 125 Grant Street. The move gave the ministry 500% more building space. In 1996 the City Rescue Mission celebrates it’s 85th anniversary and Rev. Jerry Marshall is appointed as the seventh Executive Director-Pastor. The City Rescue Mission introduces its new logo in 1998. 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.  

2000s


Kevin A. Green is appointed first as Interim Executive Director and then in 2001 as the Mission's eighth Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer. The 2000s saw a change in ministry focus. As the challenges to Mission guests had changed, so did Mission methods of ministry and programs. The Men's Ministry shifted from "work therapy" to biblical discipleship. In 2002, the Thrift Stores and Rehabilitation Center were closed following an evaluation of their profitibility. The buildings ere converted to food warehouses enabling the Mission to accept more donations. In 2009 The Mission undertakes an $85,000 renovation of it's dining hall/kitchen facilities.  New equipment, flooring, tables and chairs were installed. The Marshall Learning Center also received an upgrade in computers, a new projector and computerized white board. In 2011, The City Rescue Mission celebrates it's 100th Anniversary!