Built in 1889, The Church of the Nativity was constructed by prominent Newport contractor John W. Hetrick in mock Tudor style. The adjacent 1893 facility served as the rectory until converted in 2004 to office and meeting space.

The first Newport Episcopal services were held in the home of Mrs. Elizabeth T. Moore Bechtel on March 28, 1875, assisted by Mrs. Sarah Kerr Hiestand, reported to be the first Episcopalian in Newport. Later, worship moved to the supervisor’s office of the Pennsylvania Railroad at 3rd and Walnut Streets. A building lot was purchased on South 2nd Street in 1887, and the facility dedicated November 14, 1889.

Among the priests, two are noted for their length of service and one for being the first woman priest. The Rev. William Dorwart (1864-1927) took charge August

ca. 1900, The Rev. William Dorwart and choir.
ca. 1900, The Rev. William Dorwart and choir

1891 and served until his death. A beloved figure, he ‘grew’ the parish and became known as ‘the Rector of Newport’ for his civic activities during his 36 years in the community.

In another generation from 1974-2004, The Rev. Canon William T. Warne II responded to the economic challenges of his time to help establish the low-income residences of Episcopal Commons, Newport and Episcopal Gardens, Thompsontown. He also served as a catalyst for many human service and civic programs. Historic St. Stephen, Thompsontown, founded 1827, merged with Nativity in 1984.

As a reflection of the changing roles of women in the Episcopal Church, The Rev. Daphne S. K. Messersmith, the first female rector of Nativity, served from 2005 to 2013.
Top –ca. 1900, The Church of the Nativity and rectory beside Little Buffalo Creek and the 2nd Street Bridge.
Bottom –ca. 1900, The Rev. William Dorwart and choir.

Photographs of the Newport Church of the Nativity


Some of the Priests who have Served

The Rev. Daphne Messersmith
Rector August 2005 - June 2013

Below, the Rev. Canon William Warne, 1974 – 2004

Dedication Day

Parishioner Barbara Holliman, former director of capital campaigns with the Episcopal Church Foundation, and the Revs. Daphne Messersmith, rector from 2006 – 2013, and Bill Warren on dedication day, July 25, 2015 of the Church of the Nativity historic marker.


From the Perry Review, 2013, a transcription from the Newport News on the opening of the
Church of the Nativity in 1889

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