A HISTORY OF PARMA-SOUTH PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Parma-South got its name as a result of the merger of two Presbyterian churches --Parma Presbyterian and South Presbyterian -- and as in many modern-day marriages, it took a hyphenated name.
The older of the two churches, Parma Presbyterian Church, was originally organized by the Presbytery on Nov. 7, 1835, not as a Presbyterian church, but as a Congregational church. The first services were held in a log school house that stood where the Parma Heights Cemetery is today, and the congregation built its first building in 1841. On April 3, 1874, following a tent evangelism meeting organized by the Presbytery, the church became Presbyterian. After a fire destroyed the building, the congregation dedicated a new church building in 1900. (It stood just south of the current “in” drive.) The Education building, consisting of a gym with offices and classrooms above it, was built in 1933.
The other church, the South Presbyterian Church, began in 1892 as a mission group called The Presbyterian Union, and originally met in a funeral home. The congregation grew rapidly, and constructed a new building. However, over the next twenty years, the neighborhood changed, and the membership of the South Church declined drastically. In 1935, the Cleveland Presbytery recommended the merger of South Presbyterian Church with Parma Presbyterian.
In 1937 the new congregation, the peaceful blending of two churches, was created. The Rev. Howard B. Withers, pastor of the Parma church, became the first pastor of the new Parma-South Presbyterian Church. During his tenure, the congregation grew from that of a country church of about 250 members to a large, urban-sized church of more than 2400 members.
Because the membership grew so large, two services of worship were held each Sunday morning, at 9:30 and 11:15, beginning in 1946. The little white church by the “in” drive was no longer large enough, and in 1951 a new sanctuary was dedicated.
In the late 1990’s,an informal worship service called First Light was started. It began in the dining room, which it quickly outgrew, and moved to the social hall (gym).
On April 1, 2008, the Rev. Mark L. Juengel, became Head of Staff and continues in this position.