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).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shadyside Presbyterian Church building and offices are open to members and visitors on a limited basis by appointment only. Pre-registration is required for limited on-site worship. Most activities remain online only.

On-site worship has resumed, with safety precautions and attendance limitations in effect. Pre-registration is required, either via the church website at www.shadysidepres.org/register, or by calling the church office. To learn more, read the full announcement.

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.

Need help navigating the process to schedule or obtain a COVID-19 vaccination? The Shadyside Presbyterian Church Care Team can help! Please see the announcement below.

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 Lynn Portz, 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.

Care Team Support for Vaccination Process

The Care Team of Shadyside Presbyterian Church has the availability to aid congregation members with navigating the many websites to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments. These folks are vaccinated and can bring a laptop computer to your home to assist in this process. We also have vaccinated members that are available to transport congregants to vaccine appointments. Please let us know if you, or anyone you know, is in need of assistance. You may contact Linda Leach, Care Team leader, through the church office.

Congregational Letters

  • October: The Session has mailed a letter to all members on October 31, 2020, in order to update the congregation about the resumption of on-site Sunday worship in a limited capacity. Click here to read the letter on the church website if you did not receive your copy through the United States Postal Service.
  • September: The Session has mailed a letter to all members on September 28, 2020, in order to update the congregation on the approval of a policy and protocols for the phased re-opening of the church. Click here to read the letter on the church website if you did not receive your copy through the United States Postal Service.
  • August: The pastors have mailed a letter to all members on August 20, 2020, in order to update the congregation for the upcoming new program year. Click here to read the letter on the church website if you did not receive your copy through the United States Postal Service.
  • July: The COVID-19 Task Force sent a congregational letter to all members on July 13, 2020, in order to share with you some considerations and factors guiding their discernment process for the gradual re-opening of the church building and offices. Click here to read the letter on the church website if you did not receive your copy through the United States Postal Service.
  • June: The pastors of Shadyside Presbyterian Church sent a congregational letter to all members on June 1, 2020. In case you did not receive it via the United States Postal Service, you may read the letter online by clicking here. Also enclosed in this mailing was a notice of the annual meetings of the corporation and congregation to be held electronically on Sunday, June 14, at noon. Learn more.

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.

COVID-19 Relief Fund

Shadyside Presbyterian Church has established a COVID-19 relief fund to support individuals and families experiencing economic hardships due to the coronavirus countermeasures. In this video message, the Reverend Todd E. Leach explains the purpose of the fund, outlines who may benefit from it, and invites those who are able to donate. If your situation allows you to do so, you may make a financial contribution by giving online through the church website, selecting the COVID-19 Relief Fund. You may also send a check made payable to “Shadyside Presbyterian Church” with “COVID-19 Relief Fund” in the memo line to the attention of the Finance Office at the church. Thank you for your generosity and your concern for our neighbors.

By God’s Side

On August 12, 2020, Shadyside Presbyterian Church introduced By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith. Begin reading here.

The Quarantined Kitchen

Through this new weekly feature on the church website blog, Chef Steven Bright shares ideas and recipes to help you stay healthy by eating well during the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit The Quarantined Kitchen.

Local Mission Partner Updates

Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC) has been in communication with our local mission partners regarding needs and responses to COVID-19. Many of our partners have already been impacted financially, with some having to lay off staff. In addition to concerns for their staff, they are greatly concerned for their clients. Their repeated and greatest request was for prayer, but that was soon followed by expressed need for funding. SPC will respond to financial needs as our budget allows, but Rev. Todd Leach has shared a summary of the ways you may be able to pray more specifically. Read the full update from our mission partners.

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).

An Invitation to Online 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 Rebecca D. Reeder.

In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic), and, according to the Book of Order, it is the responsibility of the Session to authorize the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church has so authorized the online celebration of the Sacrament during virtual vespers on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at 7:00 p.m.

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

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 Rebecca D. Reeder.

Update from Session

On-Site Worship to Resume April 18

Artwork: Detail of Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s “Digital Mosaic,” illustrated by Mark Bender. All rights reserved by Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

The Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church recently approved the recommendation of the COVID-19 Task Force that on-site worship may resume on Sunday, April 18. Attendance limitations and safety measures will be in effect.

To better prepare you for what to expect as you return to on-site worship, here are several key guidelines that have been put in place to minimize risk to those who wish to worship in person:

  • While we all are eager to be together again, we acknowledge that each individual must carefully consider many factors in deciding whether to attend any in-person event. We strongly encourage everyone to demonstrate love and concern for our brothers and sisters in Christ by making choices that will protect their health and well-being, as well as your own. With that in mind, we advise you to continue to attend worship virtually in the following instances:
    • You meet any criteria that place you at higher risk for severe illness as published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
    • You do not feel well, or you have flu-like symptoms;
    • You have had close contact with a person who has COVID-19 symptoms or with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 but is asymptomatic;
    • You regularly come into contact with large crowds or greater numbers of people.
  • If you decide to attend Sunday worship in person, you must pre-register, either via the church’s website at www.shadysidepres.org/register or by calling the church office: 412.682.4300, ext. 100. Registration will open at noon on the Monday prior to the Sunday service and will close when the seating capacity is met, or by noon on the Friday prior to the Sunday service. Please register your family unit as a single seating group. Only those with reservations will be able to attend worship that Sunday.
  • Please take your temperature at home before leaving. The ushers will have a contactless thermometer if you forget to take your temperature. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher should worship virtually.
  • You are asked to allow for extra time upon arrival, remain six feet apart from other groups, and wear a mask if you are two years old or older. Please make sure your entire family unit enters together as a single group.
  • The ushers will receive one group at a time either in the Narthex, or through the coat room door on Westminster Place, and will direct you to the next available pew. Families will be permitted to sit together, up to a maximum of four adults/teenagers (plus children under twelve). Children should remain with their parents at all times. Also, members who are not related, but who have had multiple personal interactions and exposure with each other during the pandemic, may request to be seated together.
  • Please be aware that masks should be worn at all times.
  • All pew cushions, Bibles, and hymnals have been removed to aid in the cleaning and sanitizing of the sanctuary.
  • While we cannot safely bring back our tremendous choir, our service of worship will feature some musical elements, including organ and instrumental music and vocal soloists.
  • You can drop off your pledge offering in a large basket as you depart the sanctuary, or continue with mail-in contributions. Online giving also remains an option; please visit www.shadysidepres.org/give for details.
  • At the end of the service, please wait for an usher to dismiss you, and continue your social distancing once outside the sanctuary.
  • The water fountains will be disabled, and only the restrooms near the Craig Room will be available, with occupancy restricted to one person at a time.
  • There will be no nursery service, no in-person Christian education, and no time of fellowship after the service. Children’s chapel and adult education classes will continue to take place online only.
  • Please know that the church is committed to following the COVID-19 protocols for cleaning and sanitizing the sanctuary, both before and after each service.

The full COVID-19 policy and protocols approved by Session can be found on the church’s website at www.shadysidepres.org/covid-19/guidelines.

We ask for your patience and cooperation with these protocols to ensure a successful return to worship within our sanctuary. The church realizes that many of these changes are not what we would prefer; however, the health and safety of members and staff is of the highest priority. Though we have never stopped worshipping, the task force is thrilled to present this plan that will bring us together in our beloved sanctuary. We are indeed one family, united in Christ, whether we worship together in person or virtually.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and support during this transition, and please feel free to contact the church office should you have any questions.

We also thank the COVID-19 Task Force for their tireless efforts in their ongoing work: Elder Donald P. Coffelt Jr.; Elder Brigetta P. Del Re; Trustee Alexander G. Dick; Elder Robert J. Ferguson; Elder Carla M. Gedman; Elder James M. Gockley; Elder Robert B. Luthultz, chair;  Reverend Lynn M. Portz; and Elder J. Alexander Viehman.

Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge to Preach April 11

Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge
Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge
Welcoming Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge

On Sunday, April 11, the Reverend Dr. Sheldon Sorge will preach during the virtual service of worship at 11:00 a.m.

The Reverend Dr. Sorge is the Executive and General Minister for Pittsburgh Presbytery. Before his election to this office in 2009, he was a pastor of congregations in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, and served the Theology and Worship Office of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Louisville, Kentucky. He is married to the Reverend Dr. Tammy Wiens, who serves as Director of Christian Education and Christian Formation for the National Council of Churches. Together they enjoy writing and performing music, rail-to-trail bicycle rides, and long walks on golf courses.

We give thanks that the Reverend Dr. Sorge will visit us after Easter to share God’s Word with us. Please join us in welcoming him to Shadyside’s pulpit. Visit www.shadysidepres.org to connect remotely.

 

An Invitation to Online Communion

Special Invitation: Communion on Maundy Thursday

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 Rebecca D. Reeder.Maundy Thursday (from mandatum, Latin for “mandate” or “commandment”) proclaims Jesus’ new commandment to love one another as He has loved us. It celebrates Christ’s example of humble service and self-offering, represented by the washing of feet and the sharing of Communion. We remember that on the night before He was handed over to death, Jesus gathered to share the Passover meal with His disciples. In so doing, Christ instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic), and, according to the Book of Order, it is the responsibility of the Session to authorize the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church has so authorized the online celebration of the Sacrament on April 1, 2021 – Maundy Thursday. 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

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 on Thursday evening, 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 on Maundy Thursday evening, 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. This set has been used regularly as we have celebrated 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 Rebecca D. Reeder.

By God’s Side: February 10, 2021

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

February 10, 2021: A Fond Farewell

The Reverend Dr. John A. DallesI am writing this final By God’s Side article to you. Therefore, it is a kind of fond farewell — not goodbye, because I know that God is always doing remarkable things to keep the people of God connected one to another.

I want you to know that, while I can no longer be your pastor, I will always be your friend. I hope this means that you will let me know, from time to time, how things are going with you. I promise that I will do the same. This is no ordinary stroll we are taking.

There was a series of Christian education films created some years ago that was called Begin with Goodbye. The film helped study groups think about the reality that every beginning will have an ending. This is part of life. The important thing is that leg of the journey which we travel together.

Two years ago, you welcomed Judy, Mom, and me with great enthusiasm and joy. I felt exactly the same way. It was a tremendous honor to be arriving to serve you, to share in ministry together, and to anticipate what God had planned for you, next.

We did some things that could have been predicted or anticipated. But no one would have been able to predict a global pandemic and the necessary precautions that ensued. These things happened. Better than saying that they happened, let us also give thanks that, with God’s providence, we have found creative ways to respond to them, and to stay faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday is Valentine’s Day. I plan to send you a “valentine” of sorts in my sermon. Between now and then, I will be keeping you in my prayers. And after Sunday, my prayers for you will continue, even though I will be elsewhere. My next call is not yet known, but the One who does the calling knows it. May you trust all your tomorrows to God, even as I do.

Thank you and God bless you all, now and always.

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” — Numbers 6:24–26

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.

An Invitation to Online 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 Rebecca D. Reeder.

In this unprecedented time, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the online celebration of Communion (Communion in an Emergency/Pandemic), and, according to the Book of Order, it is the responsibility of the Session to authorize the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church has so authorized the online celebration of the Sacrament on the following dates:

  • Sunday, February 7, 2021, at 11:00 a.m.
  • Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. (Lenten Vespers)
  • Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. (Lenten Vespers)
  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. (Lenten Vespers)
  • Third Sunday in Lent, March 7, 2021, at 11:00 a.m.
  • Wednesday, March 10, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. (Lenten Vespers)
  • Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. (Lenten Vespers)
  • Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. (Lenten Vespers)

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

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 Rebecca D. Reeder.

By God’s Side: February 3, 2021

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

February 3, 2021: The Best Path

The Reverend Dr. John A. DallesIf you know that comedy film called Rat Race, then you will know that sometimes some people can be trusted in giving you directions, and at other times, they cannot.

The situation is simple. Two women who are in the race come across a quaint countrified woman, played by Kathy Bates, who is the only person they can see to ask for directions. Bags of nuts and cages of squirrels surround her. That should have been their first indication that maybe this was not the person to ask.

Nevertheless, they do. The Squirrel Lady tries to get them to buy one of her squirrels. Somewhat impatiently, they refuse. Then they ask again for directions.

As you who have seen the movie know, and those who have not seen it might guess, the directions are not reliable. Quite the opposite. In fact, they take the two women down a dusty lane that suddenly goes steeply downhill — and then catapults their car over the edge of a cliff. There is no turning back. Their fate is sealed.

Just as they are out there with nothing but thin air below them, they see a big, hand-painted sign that announces in bold letters, “You Should Have Bought a Squirrel!”

Sometimes we consult the wrong sources when we are trying to decide the right path in life. When we do, we may end up with a situation that is nutty or squirrelly. Please remember, that will never happen with God. We can always trust God to provide the best pathway for our life. How do I know that? Because, the Bible tells us so:

“The LORD says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’ ” — Psalm 32:8

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.

Farewell Letter to Congregation from Dr. Dalles

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

A Parting Message from Our Interim Minister

Dear friends,

After two wonderful years as your interim minister and head of staff, I will be leaving on Sunday, February 14. The Human Resources Committee and the Pastor Nominating Committee have recommended, and Session has approved, that my contract with the congregation not be renewed when I have completed my second year with you on that date.

What a privilege it has been to share the journey of faith with you. I count it among my deepest joys. Even in sad times, what a blessing it has been to support each other in these moments. Our lives have been interwoven in the fabric of faithful service to our Lord and Savior. I thank you. And Judy and Mom add their thanks to my own.

If we could take a snapshot of the congregation in February of 2019 and hold it alongside today, we would see a church we recognize, but also a church that has been much transformed. The responses we have acted upon due to the pandemic, and all the measures we have initiated to meet this highly unusual situation — indeed, all that we have accomplished together — took optimism and dedication, in which you generously shared. Two years ago, none of us could have predicted Zoom meetings, or the livestreaming of worship. I am sure, just as we have done these things, so, too, they will continue into the future, for the worship and praise of our Living Lord. This is God’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Between now and mid-February will be the “Season of Farewell.” We will be sharing with you as we always have, but aware it will be a series of “lasts.” Our farewell Sunday is February 14. That day, by way of our livestreaming of worship, I will extend our love and thanks to you. After that day, we will continue to hold you in our prayers and ever be the friends to you that we have been. What we will not be is pastor and pastor’s family. Someone yet unknown, who will be called as your next minister, will fulfill those roles. Give your new minister the same support and encouragement you have given to me.

Some of you have asked: Where will you be next? The answer is, I do not yet know, although I am exploring a number of possibilities. All through the Bible, God’s people are called to be ready to go where God is leading them; and with those many examples as our guide, we will say yes to what God has envisioned as the next chapter in our lives. We will miss you deeply. Shadyside Presbyterian Church will ever be written upon our hearts and held in our prayers.

Love and blessings, now and always,

Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor and Head of Staff

Further Reading

By God’s Side: January 27, 2021

Weekly Inspirational Reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

January 27, 2021: Regretfulness

The Reverend Dr. John A. DallesThank you all for your very kind and thoughtful messages and phone calls regarding our days dwindling down to a precious few, as the song lyrics go. As many of you have expressed, so, too, we wish that our time of farewell could be in person – that we could have a chance to visit with you “in 3-D,” and reminisce about the times we have shared together in these past two years. However, because of the COVID-19 concerns, we will not be able to do that.

We could put ourselves in a mood of regretfulness. But that would not be very Biblical. Moreover, it is not overly grammatical either, since spell check does not recognize the word “regretfulness.” If you type it in Microsoft Word, it shows up with a red line underneath; a warning to avoid using it.

Avoid regretfulness? That is good thing.

God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. We may see glimpses of them now, or understand them more fully in the future. Either way, we know that God is working His purpose out, not only as year succeeds to year, but also as day succeeds to day.

Over the next several weeks, what will you be doing? I will be doing things like boxing up the books in my office, and making sure that the church staff has whatever it needs from me before I go. I also will be holding you in my heart and in my prayers, as I do.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor, Shadyside Presbyterian Church

About Dr. Dalles

Read more about Dr. Dalles.

Watch a brief video introducing a series of conversations with Dr. Dalles.

About By God’s Side

Shadyside Presbyterian Church publishes By God’s Side, a weekly series of inspirational reflections from the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, to support you in your spiritual journey. These pastoral messages appear in the blog section of the church website each week. (Our weekly e-newsletter includes an excerpt to remind you to read along with us regularly; click here to subscribe to the e-newsletter if you do not already receive it.) We hope this regular feature will help you to draw closer to God’s side in your life of faith.

Read more reflections by Dr. Dalles from By God’s Side.