The Church Mouse Turns 50

Refreshed for the Future and Reflecting on Five Decades of Publication
The New Church Mouse: Upon entering its 50th year of publication, the beloved rodent has been re-envisioned as if captured in stained glass.

In 2019, the church’s mysteriously elusive yet seemingly pervasive reporter, The Church Mouse, turns fifty years young! To mark this auspicious occasion, with the first issue of the year (the February issue), the Communications Committee is pleased to introduce an updated design which features full color in its printed format for the first time; its electronic counterpart, The Mini-Mouse, began using the refreshed appearance in January.

The re-design was accomplished with the assistance of the creative team from Imagebox Productions. Imagebox is the same group responsible for the re-development of the website several years ago, and has since provided additional design support for several of the church’s printed projects.

“Origin stories” produce popular plots for book and film audiences nowadays — so, as the Mouse enters its 50th year of publication, we wondered, what is the background of the beloved rodent? We spoke to some of the Mouse’s closest associates to gain some insights about our furry and informative friend.

Compared to the full history of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, which spans more than 150 years of ministry and mission, the Mouse is a relative newcomer. Prior to the arrival of the Mouse, the narrative of the church was chronicled through The Shadyside Scribe. What might have been the impetus for the introduction of this modest mascot to the masthead of the church’s official communiqué?

Pictured: Earlier incarnations of The Church Mouse masthead, including the 25th year of publication in 1994 (top), and the Mouse for the new millennium, introduced in August 1997 (bottom).

The answer lies partly, of course, in the proverbial “church mouse” — a metaphorical symbol through the centuries for one who may be poor, but is perfectly positioned to observe all the goings-on in the curious building adopted as its home. This common image may have inspired the incorporation of mice into some of our church’s ornamentation. Wooden panels in the Sanctuary contain scrolling carvings of both field mice and birds nestled amongst thistles, leaves, and floral motifs.

Charles Marcus Osborn’s avian carvings may have been inspired by Psalm 84:3, but the presence of the mice invites more musing. It may not be too far-fetched to imagine that Osborn, while envisioning his designs in 1938, had in mind this Scripture: “The tree grew great and strong, its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful, its fruit abundant, and it provided food for all. The animals of the field found shade under it, the birds of the air nested in its branches, and from it all living beings were fed” (Daniel 4:11-12, emphasis added). Scholars often think Jesus is recalling this imagery when He describes the Kingdom of God in the parable of the mustard seed.

Perhaps there is even more undergirding Shadyside’s selection of the mouse as the newsletter’s titular entity than carved décor. One former editor considered that “the Mouse provides a bit of whimsy” for an institution that could, at times, seem unwittingly imposing or austere. This “whimsical” and light-hearted nature of the mouse signals to readers that we do not have to take ourselves quite so seriously all the time and might prevent us from appearing overly staid or humorless. Another aspect of our meek mouthpiece is the inference that everything reported within these pages has been “overheard” by the little ears of one who is eager to share good news — The Good News, even — rather than a self-congratulatory broadcast intended to pat ourselves on the back.

Furthermore, in a way, the Mouse’s unassuming stature grants permission to pay attention to all things, great and small. Indeed, this humble creature with a huge heart has done just that for half a century and invites us all to do the same. We hope you will continue to enjoy reading The Church Mouse to be informed about and inspired by all the good God is accomplishing in and through Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

So — can you find Shadyside’s wooden mouse carving?

Here’s a hint: The Mouse doesn’t work alone — in fact, there’s a vast network of mice — and, over the years, the mice have been chummy with the Chancel Choir choristers. You might say they’re very close. “Seek, and ye shall find!”

Rev. Michael Stanton to Preach Jan. 20

Rev. Michael Stanton, Co-founder and Executive Director, Open Hand Ministries
Rev. Michael Stanton
Welcoming Rev. Michael Stanton

On Sunday, January 20, the Reverend Michael Stanton will lead our Christian Education hour in the Parish Hall at 9:45 a.m. and will preach during the service of worship in the Sanctuary at 11:00 a.m.

Rev. Stanton was ordained by the PC(USA) to the position of Executive Director of Open Hand Ministries, Inc., one of our mission partners in Garfield and East Liberty which is committed to promoting justice and equality through homeownership. In 2007, Rev. Stanton co-founded the ministry with a number of like-hearted individuals and organizations from the neighborhood.

Michael earned his Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2006. He is happily married and living in Garfield with four beautiful children and “too many pets.”

Please join us in welcoming Rev. Stanton to Shadyside’s pulpit.

Rev. Derek Davenport to Preach Dec. 30

Rev. Derek Davenport
Rev. Derek Davenport
Welcoming Rev. Derek Davenport

On Sunday, December 30, the Reverend Derek Davenport will preach during the 11:00 a.m. service of worship in the Sanctuary.

Rev. Derek Davenport serves as the Director of the Miller Summer Youth Institute (SYI) at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS). Since 1997, SYI at PTS has helped young people consider two questions: “Who is God calling you to be?” and “What is God calling you to do?” Derek was part of the first class of SYI scholars in 1997. He then served as a part of the re-visioning team in 1999, an intern in 2000, and a counselor (as a PTS student) in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Before returning to PTS, Derek served as the associate pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida. Rev. Davenport loves storytelling, preaching, watching movies, and currently is studying church symbolism in his spare time. He is also a graduate of Grove City College and PTS.

Please join us in welcoming Rev. Davenport to Shadyside’s pulpit.

Introducing the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

John and Judith Dalles
John and Judith Dalles
Session Engages Interim Senior Pastor

With thanksgiving to God, Shadyside Presbyterian Church enthusiastically announces the selection of the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles to serve as Interim Senior Pastor. Last week, Session approved the recommendation of the Human Resources Committee to retain Dr. Dalles as Interim Senior Pastor; this action has been approved subsequently by the Pittsburgh Presbytery, and Dr. Dalles has joyfully accepted the appointment.

Presently, Dr. Dalles serves as the senior pastor and head of staff at Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood, Florida. He also has served congregations in South Bend, Indiana, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, including Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Lancaster Theological Seminary, and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, he has spent more than thirty-five years as a teaching elder and minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). A lifelong Presbyterian, John has authored numerous hymn texts, including “Come, O Spirit” and “God, Bless Your Church with Strength,” which appear in the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal. Read a full biography of Dr. Dalles.

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Dalles and his wife Judith to Shadyside in mid-February. Both are excited to return to Pittsburgh for life, work, and service to our church.

We are grateful for the efforts of the Interim Ministry Search Committee — Jayne Adair Cox; Carla M. Gedman; Robert B. Luthultz; Terrence H. Murphy; and Carey T. Vinson, chair — in identifying a candidate for interim ministry. Most especially, we are grateful to God for sending Dr. Dalles to walk alongside us during this time and to help in preparing our congregation for our next senior pastor.

Rev. Kendra Smith to Preach Nov. 25

Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith
Welcoming Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith as Guest Preacher

On Christ the King Sunday, November 25, the Reverend Kendra Buckwalter Smith will preach during the service of worship at 11:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Please join us in welcoming her to Shadyside’s pulpit.

Rev. Smith serves as the Director of the Worship Program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. A ministerial daughter of our church family, she has attended worship and actively engaged in the life of this congregation since 2004, during her time as an undergraduate student. In 2017, Rev. Smith completed the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church (USA) under the care of the Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church and was ordained in our Sanctuary. Each Sunday, she regularly leads worship by singing with the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir. We give thanks to God for the many ways in which Rev. Smith shares her gifts in our community of faith.

Read more about Rev. Smith.

“A Beautiful View” from F. Morgan Roberts

Cover of "A Beautiful View: A Friendlier Christianity as a Way of Life," by Rev. Dr. F. Morgan RobertsPastor Emeritus Publishes New Book

Many Shadysiders remember gratefully sermons of the Reverend Dr. F. Morgan Roberts, Pastor Emeritus, who served as Shadyside’s Senior Pastor from 1985 to 1994 and used his ample storytelling skill in his preaching. His latest book originated as a guide for a men’s discussion group on Christian beliefs. A Beautiful View: A Friendlier Christianity as a Way of Life is a gem of a “little” book through which Dr. Roberts examines modern Christian living in a succinct, yet thorough, text.

While written to guide discussion, the book stands on its own for an individual reader. With the author’s graceful and economic style, the twelve topical chapters make daily, devotional-type reading convenient. However, this reader found the content captivating and finished the book in two pleasant sittings. Dr. Roberts guides the text in a way that is, at once, gentle and thought provoking.

The church received a generous donation to purchase books which will be used, in part, to make twenty copies of A Beautiful View available, at no cost, to interested readers. The books may be picked up on Sunday, November 18, during fellowship in the Parish Hall following worship.

Those who receive the book will know that it cries out to be shared with Christians and with those who are curious about the faith. With Christmas in view, many will want to consider purchasing A Beautiful View for friends and family who may fall into either group.

Contributed by Elder Timothy C. Engleman

Rev. Dr. F. Morgan Roberts
Rev. Dr. F. Morgan Roberts

About Dr. Roberts

F. Morgan Roberts is Pastor Emeritus of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, where he served as pastor from 1985 until his retirement in May of 1994. A widely known preacher, Dr. Roberts has served churches in New York, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Alabama. He is the author of Are There Horses in Heaven? and Other Thoughts (1996). In addition, he has co-authored two books with John M. Mulder 28 Hymns to Sing Before You Die (2014) and 28 Carols to Sing at Christmas (2015). A member of the Society of Biblical Literature, he has contributed essays to several multi-volume scholarly works.

Dr. Roberts has served the denomination as a member of its General Assembly Mission Council. In 1986, he was preacher to the 198th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Educated at Colgate University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Roberts maintains an active interest in the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.


Armistice Day Centenary

Detail of the World War I memorial plaque below the “Easter Morn” art glass window panels in the north transept of the Sanctuary of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Presented in 1920 by Mr. and Mrs. James H. Hammond to the glory of God with thanksgiving for peace and victory, the bronze tablet was created by Signor Giuseppi Moretti.Remembering Those Who Have Passed; Praying for Peace

November 11, 2018, will mark 100 years since Germany and the Allies signed an agreement to end hostilities during World War I. The years that this war raged have left their mark around the world, including in our own congregation. Take a moment to read the names of those in our congregation who served in WWI written on the plaque on the pulpit side transept in our Sanctuary. The placement of this plaque could not be more appropriate, for when you take a step back from reading the names and look up, you see, portrayed in the beauty of stained glass, both Mary grieving by the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ hovering above you. As wars continue around the world, the juxtaposition of this plaque and the stained glass remind us that, even as we grieve like Mary for the loss of loved ones, when confronted with death, our hope is in the resurrected Christ — for we are promised, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).

On November 4, when we celebrate All Saints’ Day as a congregation both in our morning and afternoon services, we remember all who passed before us and entered the Church Triumphant. And on November?11, as a nation, we remember all who served and work for peace, including those who are forever etched on the plaque in our Sanctuary. Please take time this November to remember and honor those who have passed; to give thanks for those who promote peace; and to pray for Christ’s reign of peace, in which we place our hope, to come.

Contributed by the Reverend John F. Magnuson, Associate Pastor for Discipleship

Architectural Photograph: Detail of the World War I memorial plaque below the “Easter Morn” art glass window panels in the north transept of the Sanctuary of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Presented in 1920 by Mr. and Mrs. James H. Hammond to the glory of God with thanksgiving for peace and victory, the bronze tablet was created by Signor Giuseppi Moretti.

Perspective on Stewardship

Abounding in Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

In today’s digital age, it is increasingly difficult to manage the information and opinions our children see and hear. Much of the content we consume is filled with despair, and how this information manifests in our youth is of great concern to caregivers everywhere. As our ability to filter this noise diminishes, it is exceedingly important for our children to build a true understanding of the world around them – to see, hear, speak, and demonstrate hope and joy in daily life.

We strive to expose our girls to the teachings of Christ in both active and passive ways. Whether it is through a lesson at children’s chapel on Sunday or an act of kindness by one of us, we seek to provide and demonstrate examples of God’s steadfast and abounding love at every opportunity. Some time ago, we heard a pastor compare Sunday worship to a symphony warming up before a performance. This metaphor rings true for us today, especially as we work to instill values in our children. Sundays at Shadyside help us to stay “in-tune” with our beliefs and renew our efforts to rejoice as a family in all that is good and hopeful in the world around us.

Contributed by Trustee Alexander G. Dick and Rebecca H. Dick

Perspective on Stewardship

Abounding in Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Hope, joy, peace, power — all very emotionally strong words. I have found all of these from within the people of Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

I joined the church back in 2008, coming off a time in my life when I felt hopeless and as far from joy, peace, and power as I could be. The church and its ministry, particularly missions, carried me to a place where I could see joy and understand the power in giving and the peace that it brings.

Today, I am blessed to be a part of our community outreach and am honored to work with such faithful and caring people. So, to the incredible pastors and parishioners who have had me in their prayers over the years, sharing laughter and tears, I thank you!

I look forward to what the next ten years bring with my family here at Shadyside Presbyterian Church!

Contributed by Deacon Lisa Iadicicco

Remembering Loved Ones: All Saints’ Sunday

All Saints’ Sunday: November 4

Christians throughout the world celebrate All Saints’ Day in honor of all the saints, both known and unknown. In most Protestant churches, it is celebrated on the first Sunday of November. Protestants regard all Christians, both past and present, as saints. As we solemnly remember all those who have died in the past year, we also focus on Christ’s victory over death. While the festival acknowledges the reality of death, we emphasize our hope in the Resurrection and our place in the “communion of saints.”

  • During the All Saints’ Sunday morning service at 11:00 a.m., we will remember those members of Shadyside Presbyterian Church who have been received into the Church Triumphant during the past calendar year.
  • On the afternoon of All Saints’ Sunday, at 3:00 p.m., the Chancel Choir will sing Louis Vierne’s Messe Solennelle in C-sharp minor. We invite the congregation to submit the names of any deceased family members whom they would like to have acknowledged in the afternoon bulletin. Please submit the names to Kaysie Strickland in the church office before Friday, October 26.

Additional Resources:

  • Shadyside Presbyterian Church offers a Grief Support Group designed to provide encouragement and a faith-centered perspective for those who have lost a loved one. Two meetings will occur within the next month, including one which will focus on surviving the holidays.
    -Monday, October 22, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.  (Details)
    -Monday, November 12, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.  (Details)
  • Please remember that Shadyside Presbyterian Church has three pastors who are available to talk and pray with you. Although each of them focuses upon certain aspects of ministry, they all are, first and foremost, pastors. They all are ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament, and all of them desire to walk with you as you seek God’s strength and wisdom through both joys and challenges of life, including your seasons of grief. If you would like to speak with one of the pastors, please do not hesitate to call the church office.

“Blessed are they who die in the Lord,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”

Revelation 14:13