COVID-19 Updates and Announcements

Detail of a caduceus in the 1968 bronze bas-relief by Virgil Cantini at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Dedicated to Shadyside physician W.D. Richards, the artwork depicts the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s garment and was healed (Luke 8:43-48).

Services of worship at Shadyside Presbyterian Church continue to be held on-site and online. All individuals are required to wear masks while in the building. Most church-related activities will continue to occur online, and the church office is open during weekday business hours. The COVID-19 Task Force continues to meet regularly to monitor data and to prayerfully discern our path forward.

Although pre-registration is no longer required to attend worship, other safety precautions and protocols remain in effect. To better prepare you for what to expect as you return to on-site worship, please visit this page of the church website to review current worship practices.

We are committed to continuing to offer a virtual worship option so that you may join us remotely. You may access the video here on our website, from our YouTube channel, or from our Facebook page. Visit the live webcast page to access worship documents, including the bulletin and the children’s bulletin in .pdf format.

Selected Highlights from Previous COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Task Force

In June 2020, the Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church formed a COVID-19 Task Force to continue the prayerful discernment process regarding how and when we might begin the gradual return to our building. With direction from the government and the medical community, this task force will develop our own guidelines specific to our conditions, in addition to a timeline for resuming certain activities on the church premises.

Along with the Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley, the task force is comprised of Trustee Alex Dick and Elders Don Coffelt, Brigetta Del Re, Rob Ferguson, Carla Gedman, Jim Gockley, Bob Luthultz, and Alex Viehman. Each of these individuals has committed to meeting regularly and often in order to give these matters the careful and faithful consideration required. Other staff members and experts will serve in an advisory capacity as needed.

Please keep the task force in your prayers as they make important decisions for the well-being of our congregation. We will communicate further with you as plans emerge; meanwhile, if you have concerns or thoughts to share, you are welcome to contact any member of the task force through the church office.

Policy and Protocols

In September 2020, the Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church approved the COVID-19 Task Force’s proposed policy and protocols document. Access the current version of these guidelines at www.shadysidepres.org/covid-19/guidelines.

eGiving Options

Shadyside Presbyterian Church is pleased to offer secure eGiving options during this especially challenging time in order to encourage faithful stewardship among our congregation. Read the full article to learn more about these options, and then visit the giving area of the church website to select the best option for you and begin a new gift.

Choices You Can Make to Stay Emotionally Healthy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In light of the recent stay-at-home order for Allegheny County issued by the governor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church shares with you suggestions to promote emotional health as we face an extended time of physical separation from our community of faith. Read the full list of suggestions.

Additional Resources

To read all previous COVID-19 announcements, visit the coronavirus archive by clicking here.

Architectural Photograph: Detail of a caduceus in the 1968 bronze bas-relief by Virgil Cantini at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Dedicated to Shadyside physician W.D. Richards, the artwork depicts the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s garment and was healed (Luke 8:43-48).

A Christmas Message from Rev. Shelley

Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ, the One whose birth we await during this holy season of Advent.

The Church marks time slightly differently than does most of the world. Though Advent falls at the end of the calendar year, it represents the beginning of a new year in the Church. Advent simply means “coming,” so, in these days leading up to Christmas, we prepare our hearts once more for the inbreaking of God into human history. We rehearse the story of the birth of Christ in Bethlehem once more, and we also hope for our attention to become more and more attuned to the many ways God enters into our lives today and every day to come.

As humans, we tend to make sense of our lives through the telling and retelling of stories. Over time, the stories we tell about our families, our friends, and ourselves take on lives of their own, reminding us who we are and what it is in our history, both good and bad, that compels us to live with integrity and intentionality.

The story of Jesus’ birth in a stable in Bethlehem of Judea remains captivating more than two thousand years later, in part because it tells the story of God’s coming into the world in an utterly surprising way — not as a military hero who would rescue Israel from Roman oppression as many had hoped, but rather as a vulnerable Infant of refugee parents. This helpless Child would become the Messiah, the Savior of the world, not through power wrought by violence, but rather through the power won through love, justice, freedom, and peace.

There is a Kenyan proverb that says, “When you pray, remember to move your feet.” During Advent, we pray that God’s love will continue to break into a violent world that longs for God’s peace, into a despairing world that longs for God’s hope, into a broken world that longs for God’s healing. And, as we pray, we move our feet. We wait for God’s coming by feeding the hungry, tending the sick, encouraging the downtrodden, and freeing those who are captive to oppressive powers that threaten to render them anything less than the beloved children of God that they are.

In the act of reaching out to a world in need, we believe we encounter and embody the love of Christ, who came that all might have life, and have it abundantly. If you have ever had the sneaking suspicion that the holiday season compels us into a deeper longing than all the marketers of consumer goods would have us believe, join us in prayer and worship at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, either in person or online. And while you pray, remember to move your feet. Together, we can do something that will bring a glimpse of unexpected kindness and mercy into the world. And if we do, we believe the story of Christmas — with its astonishing angels, lowly shepherds, guiding star, and dingy stable — will once again take on a life of its own.

To you, to the ones whom you love, and to the ones whom only God loves, we wish a blessed Advent season and a Merry Christmas.

The Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley
Senior Pastor and Head of Staff

View Christmas Invitation

About Rev. Shelley

Read more about Rev. Shelley.

Watch a brief video introducing Rev. Shelley.

An Invitation to Communion

Special Invitation to the Lord’s Supper

The Chalice, Flagon, and Plate used on World Communion Sunday, October 1, 2017, were dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Momoko H. Mills. For decades, Momoko faithfully prepared the Lord’s Table in our Sanctuary with humble reverence and deep love. Commissioned by Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the Communion set was fashioned by Deacon Garret B. Smith. We give thanks to God both for Momoko’s caring service and for Garret’s talented craftsmanship. This set will be used regularly as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper during our midweek vespers. Also visible above in detail is the damask linen from Damascus which was a gift from Mark A. Anderson to Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Photograph taken by Nick Conti.

During the season of Advent, Shadyside Presbyterian Church offers multiple opportunities to celebrate the Sacrament of Communion, both on-site and online.

Morning Service of Worship on Sunday, December 5, at 11:00 a.m.

  • Those who attend this service on-site may choose to bring their own elements from home; alternatively, pre-packaged elements will be available. (Gluten-free, vegan Communion wafers also are available in the Narthex for those who prefer them.)
  • Those who are unable to attend worship in the Sanctuary may celebrate Communion virtually through our worship livestream. In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic). Please see below for suggestions on celebrating Communion virtually.

Advent Vespers on Wednesdays, December 1, 8, and 15, at 7:00 p.m.

  • Those who attend Advent vespers on-site may choose one of two options to participate in the Sacrament of Communion:
    • Ushers will invite you to come forward by way of the center aisle. Please continue to wear your mask over your nose and mouth while moving throughout the Sanctuary. At the Chancel steps, you will receive a piece of bread from the pastor and a cup from one of the Communion servers. Please return to your seat using the side aisles and wait to partake of the elements until all congregants have returned to their seats so that we all may commune together.
    • If you prefer to remain in your pew to commune, you may do so using elements you have brought from home, or you may use the pre-packaged elements available in the Narthex.
    • Gluten-free, vegan Communion wafers also are available in the Narthex for those who prefer them.
  • Those who are unable to attend worship in the Sanctuary may celebrate Communion virtually through our worship livestream. In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic). Please see below for suggestions on celebrating Communion virtually.

Regardless of the way each of us will choose to receive the bread and cup, we remain in full communion with one another and with all the saints through our one Lord, Jesus Christ.

In this time when we are separated by space, yet united in the Spirit, we remember that Christ is always at work, gathering us in unique ways.

Preparations for Celebrating Virtual Communion

In preparation for the Sacrament, we invite you to look through your own kitchen to find “bread and beverage.” While there is rich symbolism in the elements we traditionally use to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the Church also has a long history of using the most fitting materials that are readily available in any given time and setting. So feel free to be creative and use what you have on hand.

Prior to our time of worship, please prepare your worship space. Have ready the device on which you will view the service, the bulletin (available online in the worship archive) which will enable you to more fully participate in the service, and the elements you will use for Communion. Have your “bread” ready on a plate and your “beverage” poured. Any vessels will do, but you might consider using special dishes to help you remember that this is a holy meal, set apart from our regular meals. If it is safe to do so, you also may want to light a candle and place it by your prepared Communion elements. Through the light, may you be reminded that Christ is present with us all in this meal.

During worship, you will be guided through the celebration and reception of the Lord’s Supper. Whether or not you are a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, we invite you to prepare your hearts to receive this Sacrament as a means of grace. For Christ is our host, and He invites all who seek Him to partake of this holy meal.

Some possibilities for bread:

  • any kind of bread
  • crackers
  • cookies
  • chips
  • tortilla
  • pita

Note: If you have time and want to involve your family with a meaningful activity in preparation for Communion, consider baking a special loaf of bread together. Please contact Ellen Allston, Director of Children’s Ministry, who has shared several recipes with families by email.

Some possibilities for beverage:

  • grape juice
  • any other type of juice
  • wine
  • water

Photograph: The Chalice, Flagon, and Plate used on World Communion Sunday, October 1, 2017, were dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Momoko H. Mills. For decades, Momoko faithfully prepared the Lord’s Table in our Sanctuary with humble reverence and deep love. Commissioned by Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the Communion set was fashioned by Deacon Garret B. Smith. We give thanks to God both for Momoko’s caring service and for Garret’s talented craftsmanship. Also visible above in detail is the damask linen from Damascus which was a gift from Mark A. Anderson to Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Photograph taken by Nick Conti.

Partner Spotlight: Veterans Place

Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard

Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s Mission and Urban Ministry partners with Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard in support of its mission to:

  • end the cycle of veteran homelessness, and
  • honor the dignity and humanity of at-risk veterans.

Allegheny County has the largest veteran population in Pennsylvania, which has the fourth largest veteran population in the nation. Veterans Place draws from the 150,000 veterans in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area to provide transitional housing, address health issues, and provide employment training. Veterans Place is dedicated to serving post-9/11 veterans to support and assist in obtaining competitive employment.

Veterans Place operates the largest transitional housing program for veterans in the region. Participants receive financial training, recovery support, and case management. The Veterans Resource Center is one of only fifteen of its kind in the country and the only drop-in service center for veterans in the Western Pennsylvania region. The Veterans Resource Center services veterans facing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, providing them with essential resources such as transportation, food, clothing, laundry facilities, shower facilities, financial assistance, and individualized case management. Veterans Place offers a program specific to female veterans. Through the Female Veteran Program, veterans are assisted with navigating their unique and challenging barriers. Veterans Place offers financial assistance to female veterans in need facing homelessness due to domestic violence, mental/physical health barriers, or financial strain.

Two great successes in 2020 during COVID:

  • 80% of veterans served through the Transitional Housing Program moved into permanent housing and had a sustainable income at the time of discharge from the program.
  • 96% of participants achieved sustainable employment through Veterans Place Employment Services.

Veterans Place is collaborating with the City of Pittsburgh to expand and improve its campus, developing adjacent lands for the enhancement of its programming. Currently, Veterans Place is seeking a Director of Development.

If Veterans Place fits your philanthropic priorities, please reach out to Elder Laura Duncan, Chair of Mission and Urban Ministry, through the church office.

During the month of November, Shadyside Presbyterian Church coordinates a warmth drive for Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard. Please read more in order to participate.

Rev. Matthew Gaventa to Preach November 14

Rev. Matthew R. Gaventa
Rev. Matthew R. Gaventa
Welcoming Rev. Matthew Gaventa

On Sunday, November 14, the Reverend Matthew R. Gaventa will preach during the service of worship at 11:00 a.m.

Rev. Gaventa is Senior Pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Previously, he served as pastor to Amherst Presbyterian Church in Amherst, Virginia, and as chaplain to Sweet Briar College. An acclaimed writer and preacher, Rev. Gaventa’s work has been featured in Working Preacher and in The Christian Century, for which he co-hosts the podcast Sunday Morning Matinee. Matt sits on the Board of Directors of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, and on the Advisory Boards of Day1 and of The Church Lab. He holds degrees from Georgetown University, the University of Iowa, and Princeton Theological Seminary. He also was the 2012 recipient of the David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award from Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. Currently, Matt lives in Austin with his wife, Sarah; their son, Charlie; and their dog, Otto.

We give thanks that Rev. Gaventa will proclaim God’s Word among us when we celebrate the installation of the Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley as Senior Pastor. Please join us in welcoming him to Shadyside’s pulpit. To connect remotely, visit the live worship webcast page of the church website.

An Invitation to Communion

Special Invitation to the Lord’s Supper

The Chalice, Flagon, and Plate used on World Communion Sunday, October 1, 2017, were dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Momoko H. Mills. For decades, Momoko faithfully prepared the Lord’s Table in our Sanctuary with humble reverence and deep love. Commissioned by Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the Communion set was fashioned by Deacon Garret B. Smith. We give thanks to God both for Momoko’s caring service and for Garret’s talented craftsmanship. This set will be used regularly as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper during our midweek vespers. Also visible above in detail is the damask linen from Damascus which was a gift from Mark A. Anderson to Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Photograph taken by Nick Conti.

Our services of worship on All Saints’ Sunday, November 7, will incorporate celebrations of the Sacrament of Communion, both on-site and online.

Morning Service of Worship at 11:00 a.m.

  • Those who attend this service on-site may choose to bring their own elements from home; alternatively, pre-packaged elements will be available. (Gluten-free, vegan Communion wafers also are available in the Narthex for those who prefer them.)
  • Those who are unable to attend worship in the Sanctuary may celebrate Communion virtually through our worship livestream. In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic). Please see below for suggestions on celebrating Communion virtually.

Service of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m.

  • Those who attend this service on-site may choose one of two options to participate in the Sacrament of Communion:
    • Ushers will invite you to come forward by way of the center aisle. Please continue to wear your mask over your nose and mouth while moving throughout the Sanctuary. At the Chancel steps, you will receive a piece of bread from the pastor and a cup from one of the Communion servers. Please return to your seat using the side aisles and wait to partake of the elements until all congregants have returned to their seats so that we all may commune together.
    • If you prefer to remain in your pew to commune, you may do so using elements you have brought from home, or you may use the pre-packaged elements available in the Narthex.
    • Gluten-free, vegan Communion wafers also are available in the Narthex for those who prefer them.
  • Those who are unable to attend worship in the Sanctuary may celebrate Communion virtually through our worship livestream. In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic). Please see below for suggestions on celebrating Communion virtually.

Regardless of the way each of us will choose to receive the bread and cup this day, we remain in full communion with one another and with all the saints through our one Lord, Jesus Christ.

In this time when we are separated by space, yet united in the Spirit, we remember that Christ is always at work, gathering us in unique ways.

Preparations for Celebrating Virtual Communion

In preparation for the Sacrament, we invite you to look through your own kitchen to find “bread and beverage.” While there is rich symbolism in the elements we traditionally use to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the Church also has a long history of using the most fitting materials that are readily available in any given time and setting. So feel free to be creative and use what you have on hand.

Prior to our time of worship, please prepare your worship space. Have ready the device on which you will view the service, the bulletin (available online in the worship archive) which will enable you to more fully participate in the service, and the elements you will use for Communion. Have your “bread” ready on a plate and your “beverage” poured. Any vessels will do, but you might consider using special dishes to help you remember that this is a holy meal, set apart from our regular meals. If it is safe to do so, you also may want to light a candle and place it by your prepared Communion elements. Through the light, may you be reminded that Christ is present with us all in this meal.

During worship, you will be guided through the celebration and reception of the Lord’s Supper. Whether or not you are a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, we invite you to prepare your hearts to receive this Sacrament as a means of grace. For Christ is our host, and He invites all who seek Him to partake of this holy meal.

Some possibilities for bread:

  • any kind of bread
  • crackers
  • cookies
  • chips
  • tortilla
  • pita

Note: If you have time and want to involve your family with a meaningful activity in preparation for Communion, consider baking a special loaf of bread together. Please contact Ellen Allston, Director of Children’s Ministry, who has shared several recipes with families by email.

Some possibilities for beverage:

  • grape juice
  • any other type of juice
  • wine
  • water

Photograph: The Chalice, Flagon, and Plate used on World Communion Sunday, October 1, 2017, were dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Momoko H. Mills. For decades, Momoko faithfully prepared the Lord’s Table in our Sanctuary with humble reverence and deep love. Commissioned by Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the Communion set was fashioned by Deacon Garret B. Smith. We give thanks to God both for Momoko’s caring service and for Garret’s talented craftsmanship. Also visible above in detail is the damask linen from Damascus which was a gift from Mark A. Anderson to Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Photograph taken by Nick Conti.

Installation of Rev. Austin Crenshaw Shelley

Worship on Sunday, November 14, at 11:00 a.m., with Celebration Following

The installation of the Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley as Senior Pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church will be celebrated during the morning service of worship on Sunday, November 14.

The presbytery in which a newly-called minister serves conducts the installation. The Moderator of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, Mr. Mark Roth, Elder, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, will preside on November 14. In addition to the Moderator, Rev. Shelley has asked the following individuals to serve as the administrative commission for her installation:

The Reverend Matthew Gaventa, Senior Pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, will preach the sermon. Additional guests include the Reverend Janice Smith Ammon, who serves as the Bryant M. Kirkland Minister of the Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Reverend Dr. Molly F. James, who serves as the Dean of Formation for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

Music for the morning will include anthems sung by the Chancel Choir and participation from guest brass instrumentalists. The choir and congregation also will sing a new hymn, titled “The Sparrow,” with tune name Crenshaw Shelley, which has been composed especially for this day. The text, written by Dr. Mark A. Boyle and set to music by Mr. Mark A. Anderson, was inspired by Rev. Shelley’s candidacy sermon and benediction in June.

Sunday, November 14, will be an important day in the life of our congregation, and it is altogether fitting that the observance of this auspicious occasion take place during our normal celebration of the Lord’s Day. An offering for the Oldman Fund, a scholarship for inquirers and candidates for ministry under the care of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, will be collected during worship. A celebration is planned following the service.

Remembering Loved Ones: All Saints’ Sunday

All Saints’ Sunday: November 7

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, we will hold a Service of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. In memory of those who have entered eternal rest throughout time and space, we will gather to worship God through the singing of hymns, the reading of Scripture, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. 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 29. Alternatively, you may complete this form online to submit names.

Additional Resources:

  • The Shadyside Presbyterian Church Care Team members share their gifts of compassion, care, encouragement, support, and prayer with our congregation in intentional ways. If you think you could benefit from the support and encouragement of a Care Team member as you grieve, please contact Rev. Lynn M. Portz, Associate Pastor for Parish Life, through the church office.
  • 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 contact 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

Pastoral Message from Rev. Shelley

Blessings in Our Broken Bread

With joy and thanksgiving, I greet you, the people of God who are the Shadyside Presbyterian Church! Thank you for the hospitality you have extended to me and to my family as we have begun to settle into our new surroundings in Pittsburgh. Your kindness has woven its way into our hearts and seamlessly knit us into the fabric of your life together. For this gift of grace, we give thanks to God.

Though your warm welcome has stretched over the waning summer months and into the crisp days of fall, our first official Sunday is October 3, which is also World Communion Sunday. As you surely remember, and as the medallion embedded in the center of our chancel floor attests, World Communion Sunday began here at Shadyside in 1933, when the Reverend Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr served as pastor. That my first Sunday as your senior pastor coincides with such a historically significant celebration in the life of this congregation is both intentional and meaningful.

It is intentional because I pray that our ministry together in this place will be characterized by an appreciation of those who have gone before us who have served God with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. The Reverend Dr. Kerr and many of my predecessors, staff, and lay people alike prayerfully and faithfully discerned the ways in which God was calling them to love their neighbors in their particular time in this place. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

World Communion Sunday’s overlap with my first opportunity to lead worship in your midst is also meaningful. It not only reflects my appreciation of your worship life which is well-rooted in tradition and beauty, but also affirms our shared sense that God is calling us to a future we cannot yet imagine—one that depends on those deep, established roots to nourish our ability to notice new ways God is at work among us, fostering new growth that compels us to go out into the world to join in God’s transformation of the entire landscape.

World Communion Sunday holds a special place in our history, but its significance is not relegated to the past; nor is it contained by our gorgeous stone walls, intricate carvings and mosaics, or historical slate roof. Like the sacrament of Communion itself, this day transcends time and space. When we celebrate World Communion, we proclaim the good news that Christ is among us, present to us in the bread and the cup—and not to us alone, but to every soul throughout time and space who has ever longed to be fed by the living God.

I was recently introduced to an Argentinian blessing that is a fitting prayer as we begin this new chapter in Shadyside’s mission and ministry:

God bless to us our bread
And give bread to all those who are hungry
And hunger for justice to those who are fed
God bless to us our bread

This blessing echoes the Lord’s Prayer in that it asks God for our bread. Not my bread, but rather, our bread—bread that belongs to all of us, nourishes all of us, sends all of us out with the help of the Holy Spirit to continue the work of feeding those who hunger. This blessing acknowledges the truth that our well-being is bound up in the well-being of every other child of God on the planet. And it tells the truth, too—that our hunger for the goodness of the Lord will inevitably lead us to remember our oneness with the refugee fleeing Afghanistan, with the victim of rising flood waters or threatening wildfires, with everyone who has ever heard and will ever hear God’s answer to our prayers for bread: Take, eat. This is my Body, broken for you.

Grace and peace,

The Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley
Senior Pastor and Head of Staff

Note: This pastoral message first appeared in the October 2021 issue of The Church Mouse newsletter.

About Rev. Shelley

Read more about Rev. Shelley.

Watch a brief video introducing Rev. Shelley.

An Invitation to Communion

Special Invitation to the Lord’s Supper

The Chalice, Flagon, and Plate used on World Communion Sunday, October 1, 2017, were dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Momoko H. Mills. For decades, Momoko faithfully prepared the Lord’s Table in our Sanctuary with humble reverence and deep love. Commissioned by Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the Communion set was fashioned by Deacon Garret B. Smith. We give thanks to God both for Momoko’s caring service and for Garret’s talented craftsmanship. This set will be used regularly as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper during our midweek vespers. Also visible above in detail is the damask linen from Damascus which was a gift from Mark A. Anderson to Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Photograph taken by Nick Conti.

Our service of worship at 11:00 a.m. on World Communion Sunday, October 3, will incorporate a celebration of the Sacrament of Communion, both on-site and online.

  • Those who attend this service on-site may choose to bring their own elements from home; alternatively, pre-packaged elements will be available.
  • Those who are unable to attend worship in the Sanctuary may celebrate Communion virtually through our worship livestream. In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic).

In this time when we are separated by space, yet united in the Spirit, we remember that Christ is always at work, gathering us in unique ways.

Preparations for Celebrating Virtual Communion

In preparation for the Sacrament, we invite you to look through your own kitchen to find “bread and beverage.” While there is rich symbolism in the elements we traditionally use to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, the Church also has a long history of using the most fitting materials that are readily available in any given time and setting. So feel free to be creative and use what you have on hand.

Prior to our time of worship, please prepare your worship space. Have ready the device on which you will view the service, the bulletin (available online in the worship archive) which will enable you to more fully participate in the service, and the elements you will use for Communion. Have your “bread” ready on a plate and your “beverage” poured. Any vessels will do, but you might consider using special dishes to help you remember that this is a holy meal, set apart from our regular meals. If it is safe to do so, you also may want to light a candle and place it by your prepared Communion elements. Through the light, may you be reminded that Christ is present with us all in this meal.

During worship, you will be guided through the celebration and reception of the Lord’s Supper. Whether or not you are a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, we invite you to prepare your hearts to receive this Sacrament as a means of grace. For Christ is our host, and He invites all who seek Him to partake of this holy meal.

Some possibilities for bread:

  • any kind of bread
  • crackers
  • cookies
  • chips
  • tortilla
  • pita

Note: If you have time and want to involve your family with a meaningful activity in preparation for Communion, consider baking a special loaf of bread together. Please contact Ellen Allston, Director of Christian Education for Children’s Ministry, who has shared several recipes with families by email.

Some possibilities for beverage:

  • grape juice
  • any other type of juice
  • wine
  • water

Photograph: The Chalice, Flagon, and Plate used on World Communion Sunday, October 1, 2017, were dedicated to the glory of God and in loving memory of Momoko H. Mills. For decades, Momoko faithfully prepared the Lord’s Table in our Sanctuary with humble reverence and deep love. Commissioned by Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the Communion set was fashioned by Deacon Garret B. Smith. We give thanks to God both for Momoko’s caring service and for Garret’s talented craftsmanship. Also visible above in detail is the damask linen from Damascus which was a gift from Mark A. Anderson to Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Photograph taken by Nick Conti.