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Fire destroys Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church in Louisville

by Louisville Seminary | Jan 16, 2009
by Leah Bradley

Early this morning a fire broke out at Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Fifteen trucks and about 75 firefighters were sent to the church at 3:00 a.m.

Once firefighters entered the back of the building they were overwhelmed by the intensity of the fire and had to leave the building. About 75 percent of the building was destroyed, which includes part of the sanctuary.

Louisville Seminary and Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church have a long history of ministry together, beginning when Paul Moore, (BD 1907) served as pastor from 1913 to 1916. Other LPTS alums who have served the Portland Avenue congregation include

Ray St. Clair (BD ’21), pastor, 1921–1927
John McLean (BD ’23), pastor, 1927–1930
Foster Stone (BD ’41), pastor, 1942–1943
Warren Gaw (BD ’42), pastor, 1945–1947
James Fedlam (MDiv ’74), student supply, 1973–1974
Jane Krauss-Jackson (MDiv ’74), pastor, 1974–1981
Alfred Spotts (MDiv ’70), interim pastor, 1981–1982
Janice Catron (MDiv ’82), parish associate, 1982
Linda Woods (MDiv ’89), student supply, 1989–1991
Brown Patton (MDiv ’77), pastor, 1991–1992
James Saint (MDiv ’77), pastor, 1992–1994
Leah Ellison Bradley (MDiv ’97), student supply, 1994–1995
Willa Fae Williams (MDiv ’93), pastor, 1997–present
*Linda Penrod Million (MDiv ’79), pastor, 1998–2003
*Susan Jinnett-Sack (MDiv ’04), student supply, 2003–2004
*Deborah Uchtman (MDiv ’04), stated supply, 2004–2005

*From February 1998 through September 2004, the Parkway United Methodist Church of Louisville entered into an Ecumenical Shared Ministry with Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church. These alums were part of that shared ministry.

Students (now alums) who have served Portland Avenue through Louisville Seminary’s Field Education program include Charles Stanford (BD ’58)
Wanda Johnson (MDiv ’81)
Tommy Jones (MDiv ’88)
Robin Schultz (MDiv ’00)
Thelma King (MDiv ’01)
John Turner (MDiv ’02)
Deb Uchtman (MDiv ’04)
Peggy French (MDiv ’04)
Susan Williams (MDiv ’08)
Maryann Smith (current student)

Willa Fae Williams and the members of Portland Ave Presbyterian Church are grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers. They have accepted the offer of worship space at Our Lady's Catholic Church, 3525 Rudd Ave, Louisville 40212. Worship begins at 10:45 a.m.

As the church assesses the damage and determines what assistance would be most helpful, your continued prayers are appreciated for these brothers and sisters in Christ.

NOTE: The church was established in the 1850s and was near completion of a major restoration of the 1892 building. Rev. Dr. Willa Fae Williams has served as a Louisville Seminary Field Education Supervisor for many years. As pastor, she has helped the church lead at least 14 outreach ministries serving the poverty stricken Portland Neighborhood. Rev. Williams has said, "it is a 21st century American mission field at the most fundamental level.”

Contact the Alum & Church Relations Office if you would like to offer assistance: lbradley@lpts.edu or call 800.264.1839, ext. 346.

  • 1044 Alta Vista Road |
  • Louisville, KY 40205 |
  • 800.264.1839 |
  • Fax: 502.895.1096 |
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