Honoring Rev. Dr. Craig Barnes as Pastor Emeritus

Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes and Rev. Austin Crenshaw Shelley
Above: Rev. Dr. M. Craig Barnes and Rev. Austin Crenshaw Shelley. Photograph taken by Stephen M. Donnelly.
“Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
“For God is not unjust; He will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for His sake in serving the saints, as you still do.” (Hebrews 6:10)

It brings me great joy to share with you that the Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC) has recently voted to confer the title of Pastor Emeritus upon the Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes, our tenth Senior Pastor and recently retired President of Princeton Theological Seminary. Traditionally, the honorific title of Pastor Emeritus is reserved for retired ministers whose faithful service to God in a particular congregation is recognized as distinctive. You may recall that the Reverend Dr. F. Morgan Roberts received this honor in 1994. As a sign of our congregation’s deep gratitude, this honor lifts up the relationship of care and trust that already exists between Shadyside, Dr. Barnes, and his family. Naming Dr. Barnes as Pastor Emeritus also expresses our profound thanks for his commitment to covenant community centered in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Many of us who find our places in Shadyside’s sanctuary or connect to our livestream on Sunday mornings were members of SPC during Dr. Barnes’ pastorate from 2003 through 2012. Even those who, at that time, had not yet become a part of this faith community still benefit from the far reach of his ministry in the Church and in the academy. The Reverend Elizabeth Michael Ross and I studied as Master of Divinity students at Princeton Theological Seminary during Dr. Barnes’ service on its Board of Trustees. When I traveled with the seminary’s touring choir to Pittsburgh for the 2012 General Assembly of the PC(USA), Dr. Barnes met us at the door and welcomed us into the sanctuary, where he seemed to delight in our awe upon first setting eyes on the mosaic in the apse, the ornate carvings in the wood, and the grand Romanesque architecture quite unlike the sparse style of many of the Presbyterian churches we had visited on tour. During Dr. Barnes’ tenure as a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the Reverend Kendra Buckwalter Smith studied under his tutelage, and when he came to Princeton as its President, I, too, learned not only from his powerful preaching from the pulpit of the seminary chapel, but also from his faithful and wise leadership on campus and in the community. As he has answered the call of God upon his own life, Dr. Barnes has shaped a generation of leaders in the Church, perhaps especially here at Shadyside.

And so, upon the occasion of his retirement, please join us as we honor Dr. Barnes’ faithful service and give thanks for his pastoral heart, his poetic preaching, his discerning vision, his inspired teaching, and his gifted leadership. In the spring, we will invite Dr. Barnes into the pulpit, and Dawne and their family into their favorite spot in the fourth pew, as we worship God and celebrate together. Thanks be to God!

The Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley
Senior Pastor and Head of Staff

COVID-19 Updates and Announcements

As of January 26, 2023, the COVID-19 community level for Allegheny County has been categorized as Low (Green). Each individual may make a personal decision about wearing masks while inside the church building.

Services of worship at Shadyside Presbyterian Church continue to be held on-site and online. Although pre-registration is no longer required to attend worship, other safety precautions and protocols remain in effect. To better prepare yourself for what conditions to expect as you gather for on-site worship, please visit this page of the church website to review current worship practices.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to adapt to the changing landscape of the pandemic.

About Masking and CDC COVID-19 Community Levels

The Shadyside Presbyterian Church COVID-19 Task Force has established the following guidelines for indoor masking, consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on COVID-19 community levels for Allegheny County.

  • Red (High): Masks are required inside the church building.
  • Yellow (Medium): Masks are suggested inside the church building.
  • Green (Low): Each individual may make a personal decision about masking inside the church building.

Please note the following exceptions will remain in effect even during yellow (medium) and green (low) community levels:

  • Masks will be required at all times in the transepts of the sanctuary to provide a safer area for those who are most vulnerable. (Seating in these pews will also continue to maintain social distance.)
  • All participants in Children’s Ministry activities will remain masked for safety, including staff, volunteers, and children. Parents, caregivers, and guardians are welcome to accompany their children at any time; adults must continue to wear masks at all times when in Children’s Ministry areas.

In addition, please also be aware that our worship leaders in the Chancel may be unmasked at times in order to carry out their worship responsibilities, even during red (high) community levels.


Shadyside Presbyterian Church will make every effort to keep our website updated with current masking guidelines, especially www.shadysidepres.org/covid-19 and www.shadysidepres.org/covid-19/current. Please check the website on Saturdays to inform your decisions and preparations for attending Sunday worship in person. In the event the church website has not been updated by the Saturday prior to worship, you may check the CDC website using the following steps:

  • Direct your web browser to www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html.
  • Locate the COVID-19 County Check section, and, under “Select a Location,” select “Pennsylvania” under “State.”
  • Then select “Allegheny County” under “County.”
  • Press the “Go” button.
  • The current community level will be displayed.

Alternatively, you may click the button below, which will open a new tab in your web browser. Scroll down to “COVID-19 Community Level” under “Allegheny County, Pennsylvania” to view the current community level.

Check Allegheny County COVID-19 Community Level

About the COVID-19 Task Force

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).The Shadyside Presbyterian Church COVID-19 Task Force continues to meet regularly to monitor data and to prayerfully discern our path forward. Formed by Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the COVID-19 Task Force is comprised of the Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley; Trustee Alex Dick; and Elders Don Coffelt, Brigetta Del Re, Rob Ferguson, Carla Gedman, Bob Luthultz, and Alex Viehman. These individuals have committed their time in order to give these matters the careful and faithful consideration required. Other staff members and experts serve in an advisory capacity as needed.

For nearly two and a half years, the task force met regularly to monitor data and to prayerfully discern our path forward. The task force now meets as needed. Thank you for your prayers for the task force as they made important decisions for the well-being of our congregation and community. If you have concerns or thoughts to share, you are welcome to contact the task force through the church office.

Further Reading

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).

Refugee Assistance Update

In Partnership with Jewish Family and Community Services

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. — Leviticus 19:34

The Refugee Resettlement Team is pleased to provide the congregations of Temple Sinai and Shadyside Presbyterian Church with an update on our efforts since our family’s arrival.

Our congregations partnered with Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) in the summer to train and prepare ourselves for supporting a refugee family. By September, our team welcomed a family of four from the Democratic Republic of the Congo by way of a refugee camp in Rwanda. Upon their arrival at Pittsburgh Airport, Susan Balaan and the Welcome Committee brought the family to their new home to share a warm meal after a multi-day journey to America. Our Housing Committee, led by Connie Coffelt, furnished a lovely apartment within the East End of Pittsburgh. Lizzy Kline led our Cultural Orientation Committee to coordinate grocery shopping multiple times a week. Melissa Rychener ensured the Educational Committee confirmed school enrollments, English as second language courses, and tutorials on how to ride the bus. Finally, Emma Balaan and the Medical Committee coordinated medical appointments, vaccinations, and health education when needed.

Several volunteers provided cultural orientation, employment coaching, and other odds and ends for life in the United States. Besides those highlighted above, others who have supported this family include Drew and Jan Barkley, Tanya Bass, Karla Byrd, Owen Clinger, Laura Duncan, Barbara and Daniel Ernsberger, Adona Iosif, Carol James, Adam Loucks, Ann Pauley, Vanessa Rychener, Virginia Thornburgh, and Victoria Wellstead Murphy.

The refugee family we have served since September is moving to Massachusetts to take advantage of an opportunity to be closer to loved ones. We are proud to have witnessed this family’s growing understanding of our culture, their English language skills, and their confidence to be fully realized citizens of this country. We are sad that we will not continue to be their partner, but we are grateful to have been part of their journey.

Our Refugee Resettlement Team is now preparing for another family to arrive in Pittsburgh in early December. This is a young couple with a baby girl under six months old, with unique needs which are different from our prior family. Given our renewed startup costs to build the relationship with this family, please consider contributing to a special collection during this holiday season using the instructions below. If you have clothes for children between six and eighteen months, including sweaters and hats, and other items appropriate for children under one year old, such as disposable diapers and baby wipes, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office.

If you are interested in directly serving a stranger and their family, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office. Individuals able to drive or ride the bus during a weekday, or able to accompany our family for medical appointments, are especially needed.

With appreciation for your continued prayers and support,

Elder Laura C. Duncan

Contribute a Financial Gift

If you would like to make a financial contribution, please do so before noon on Thursday, December 29, by one of the following options:

  • Visit our online giving portal at www.shadysidepres.org/give, click the “Give Now” button, then select “Spec. Mission Programs” in the drop-down menu and “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line.
  • Place your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, with “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line) or cash donation in an envelope designated for “Refugee Assistance” and place it in the offering plate.
  • Mail your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, with “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line) directly to the church office marked to the attention of the Finance Office.

Remembering Loved Ones: All Saints’ Sunday

All Saints’ Sunday: November 6

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 celebrate Communion and 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., in memory of those who have entered eternal rest throughout time, the Chancel Choir will sing Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in the liturgical context of a Service of Remembrance, which also will include Communion. We invite the congregation to submit the names of any deceased loved ones whom they would like to have acknowledged in the afternoon bulletin. Please share names with the church office (info@shadysidepres.org or 412-682-4300, ext. 116) before Friday, October 28.

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. Elizabeth Michael Ross, Parish Associate for Pastoral Care, 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

Pitcairn-Crabbe Foundation Publishes History

Celebrating the Publication of New Book: Spiritual & Material

Quietly, for more than eight decades, the Pitcairn-Crabbe Foundation has made charitable grants in accordance with the will of Mrs. Susan Hunt. A low profile has served the foundation and its grantees well; however, it seemed worthwhile to the directors that the foundation be better known among Shadyside Presbyterian Church officers, staff, and members. The first comprehensive history of Pitcairn-Crabbe — written by Elder Tim Engleman — covers the origins, development, and work of the organization.

The Pitcairn-Crabbe Foundation is a corporation separate from Shadyside Presbyterian Church, yet its Board of Directors consists of the church’s Board of Trustees. Broadly, its purpose is to enhance the spiritual and material condition of people, mainly in Western Pennsylvania. Mrs. Hunt’s will outlined how this is to be carried out. She expressed hope that the foundation’s work would help perpetuate the memories of her grandparents, Robert and Elizabeth Pitcairn, and her mother, Susie Pitcairn Crabbe. Robert Pitcairn, a founding member of the church, was a railroad executive and entrepreneur. Mrs. Hunt designated much of the remainder of the Pitcairn fortune to launch the foundation in 1940.

The first chapter offers biographical sketches of those whose memories are to be perpetuated. The second chapter chronicles the poignant story of Susan Lee Hunt, whose short life, though rife with personal tragedies, culminated in the creation of the Pitcairn-Crabbe Foundation. Out of great wealth and great turmoil, she and her trusted advisers envisioned support for Christian education, religious and church work, community improvement, and relief of distress. The subsequent chapters show how the foundation realized that vision through years of societal change.

Copies of Spiritual and Material: History of the Pitcairn-Crabbe Foundation are available at no cost in the church Narthex beginning in September.

Nursery School Welcomes New Director

Welcoming Liz Miller Buchanan as New Nursery School Director

Liz Miller Buchanan, Nursery School Director
Liz Buchanan, Nursery School Director

The Shadyside Presbyterian Church Nursery School (SPCNS) Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Liz Miller Buchanan was selected to succeed Mary Lang as director upon Mary’s retirement after eighteen years of service at the end of this past school year. In June, Liz began serving as the fifth director of SPCNS since its founding in 1951. Previously, Liz worked as a classroom teacher with the nursery school for fourteen years, and we are thrilled that she has embraced this new role.

Please join us in celebrating the beginning of Liz’s leadership and in praying for God’s blessings upon her, our faculty, children, and families during this transition and upcoming school year.

Read more about Liz.

Mission Survey Results

Elder Laura C. Duncan

The Uniting with Neighbors workgroup and I extend a hearty thank you to all who influenced the development, release, and engagement of our mission survey and skills inventory. We are so grateful to the church lay leadership for sharing their support in conversation and other venues to encourage responses, and to Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith and Rev. Austin Crenshaw Shelley for their approval to fund and release the survey through Shadyside channels. We must highlight a deep gratitude for the Shadyside congregants who took time to have their voices heard on the mission survey, and especially those who raised their hands like Isaiah in God’s throne room to say, “Lord, send me,” by sharing their names and the skills they wish to lend to mission.

I must also thank the committee for their stalwart efforts to source, release, craft, and deploy the survey. During each Thursday meeting we held throughout the winter season, we largely discussed the survey and inventory, and those efforts are bearing fruit.

A total of 105 respondents participated, with 68 sharing their skills for our mission partners.

The survey responses revealed respondents’ passion for mission locally and abroad. A ministry of caring (16 of 60 free text responses included “caring” or similar words) and our international efforts (noted by 10 of 60 responses) are most-mentioned assets we should continue to develop.

Respondents indicated that areas needing more emphasis include a mechanism for individuals to discover their own gifts to support missions; participating in programs or services with other religious groups; and lastly, how to understand the use of money, time, and talents as expressions of Christian stewardship.

The respondents overwhelmingly echoed how personal involvement is meaningful, drawing them into vibrant relationship with our community (locally and globally), and, 79% said social justice is at the heart of the gospel. Knowing those most passionate about Shadyside Presbyterian Church feel this way about missions is emboldening and will continue to propel us to seek God’s Kingdom in this very broken world.

Elder Laura C. Duncan, Chair, Missions Committee of Session

Longtime Nursery School Staff Retiring

Giving Thanks for Mary Lang and Susie Pettler

Nursery School Director Mary Lang and Nursery School Bookkeeper Susie Pettler
Mary Lang (left) and Susie Pettler (right)

Shadyside Presbyterian Church Nursery School (SPCNS) announced earlier this school year that, after eighteen years of service as its director, Mary Lang is retiring in June. Mary’s connection to the nursery school community dates back to 1991, when she and her husband, Tom Cummings, determined that SPCNS was the best match for their firstborn child’s preschool education. All four of their children would enroll over the subsequent years, and, by the time their youngest child was in the oldest class in 2002, Mary had joined the school staff. For two years, Mary worked as the assistant to the director, Becky Marks, before succeeding Becky in 2004. To all our children and parents, Mary has been a warm beacon of light — undimmed even by the past several years of pandemic challenges. Her loving, calm presence will be greatly missed.

Mary is not the only longtime friend to whom the nursery school is bidding a fond farewell at the end of this school year. SPCNS Bookkeeper Susie Pettler is also retiring, having tirelessly served SPCNS for the past fifty-two years. Many Shadysiders may know Susie as a member of our congregation since 1957 and as a former member of the church administrative staff; she retired in 2007 after twenty-seven years of service. Her connection to the nursery school, however, predates her tenure in the church office, and, like Mary, she, too, was a nursery school parent. Her two sons, Graham and Russell, are both SPCNS alumni. Over more than five decades, Susie has been a steadfast support to several school directors, numerous trustees, and countless families. In that time, she has witnessed many changes — including classroom renovations and the creation of the natural playscape, both of which occurred under Mary’s leadership and with Susie’s immeasurable support. Susie herself even adapted from keeping ledgers by hand to learning QuickBooks accounting software. Through it all, she has performed her duties with accuracy and dedication, demonstrating a deep love of the school.

Even by a conservative calculation, the lives of thousands of children have been impacted by the caring work of Mary and Susie. The entire SPCNS community thanks both of them for their incredible years of service and for their commitment to ensuring children at SPCNS are valued, loved, nurtured, and educated. May God bless both Mary and Susie with many bright and happy years of retirement.

Giving Thanks for the Ministry of Rev. Lynn Portz

An Update from Session

Doug and Lynn Portz

Dear friends,

Greetings to you this Eastertide in the name of Christ our Risen Lord! Earlier this spring, the Reverend Lynn M. Portz announced her intention to retire as a Minister of Word and Sacrament at the end of May after more than forty years of ordained ministry. As we, the Shadyside Presbyterian Church, prepare to bid farewell to Rev. Portz, we remember with gratitude her faithfulness and care for this congregation.

For more than thirteen years, Lynn has served as our Associate Pastor for Parish Life. In that time, we have been abundantly blessed by her wise and gentle leadership, her compassionate heart, and her thoughtful and inspiring preaching and teaching. In addition to leading us in worship and the study of God’s Word, she has comforted the bereaved and grieving; visited the sick and hospitalized; prayed continuously for our church family and for our neighbors, near and far; celebrated baptisms and weddings; nurtured our congregation’s culture of hospitality; planned fellowship events that have deepened our sense of community; welcomed guests and newcomers into our midst; maintained connections with elderly and homebound members; coordinated our ministries of care and support; and guided the Board of Deacons and the Care Team. In all of these ways and more — many unknown to us but seen by God — she has demonstrated her profound love for Christ and for our church.

As Lynn’s tenure draws to a close, there are several important dates this month to share with you. We hope you will join us in celebrating her ministry, and in thanking her for all she has meant to our church and community.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

  • Please attend worship at 11:00 a.m. on May 15. As part of the agenda during the Annual Meetings of the Corporation and Congregation, which will be held in the sanctuary immediately following worship, we will act on the request of Rev. Portz that her pastoral relationship with Shadyside Presbyterian Church be dissolved effective May 31, 2022. It is important to have a good attendance for this meeting. If you are unable to attend in person, the format of the meeting will be hybrid, so participants may attend online via Zoom videoconferencing. The link, telephone number, meeting ID, and passcode will not be shared publicly in the interest of keeping the meeting secure, but these details will be provided directly to members in a letter delivered by the United State Postal Service and in an email on the morning of Sunday, May 15. (If you have questions or concerns, please contact the church office by phone or email before Friday, May 13, and we will be happy to assist you.)

Sunday, May 22, 2022

  • Please attend worship at 11:00 a.m. on May 22, which is Lynn’s last Sunday with us as a member of our pastoral staff. During this service, she will preach her final sermon as Associate Pastor in Shadyside’s pulpit. While we know that, ideally, everyone would prefer to attend in person, the live worship webcast continues to be available at www.shadysidepres.org/live.
  • Following worship, all are invited to gather outside under a tent on the McClintock Lawn for a reception in honor of Lynn to express our appreciation and offer our well wishes.

As an expression of gratitude, you are invited to contribute to a gift for Rev. Portz, which will be presented to her on May 22. Checks may be sent to the attention of the church finance office, designated as “Portz Gift” in the memo line. Contributions also may be made online by clicking here; please select “Miscellaneous Revenue” in the drop-down menu on the giving form and include “Portz Gift” in the memo line. The goal for receipt of donations is Wednesday, May 18.

We will deeply miss Lynn and her husband, Doug. Together, we lift Lynn in prayer as she enters retirement, with grateful hearts for the blessing she has been to us and with fervent hope that God will grant Lynn and Doug many long years of health and happiness ahead to enjoy with their family.

In Christ,

Elder Robert B. Luthultz
Chair, Human Resources Committee of Session

Further Reading

Farewell Message from Rev. Lynn Portz to the Congregation

Partner Spotlight: Sojourner House

The annual Shadyside Presbyterian Church Strawberry Festival supports Sojourner House.
Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS

Sojourner House provides in-patient residential treatment to addicted mothers and their children. Mothers can bring three children with them and stay up to six months while receiving intensive treatment for their addiction. Sojourner House is proud to be the only program in Allegheny County that provides each family with their own apartment while the mother receives treatment. Mothers and children can begin to experience the joys and challenges of living as an independent, drug-free family while securely surrounded by round-the-clock support.

The MOMS (Motivation, Opportunities, Mentoring, and Spirituality) Program builds on Sojourner House’s experience in providing a holistic mind-body-spirit approach to treating addiction. MOMS provides permanent, supportive housing for homeless, single, dual-diagnosed women in recovery, as well as for their dependent children.

The staff at Sojourner House believe that women who are in recovery are best able to shatter the bonds of addiction when they are surrounded by what matters most to them: their children. Sojourner House additionally partners with other local community groups because they also believe in the importance of community in providing hope and meaning to women who are working on sobriety and financial independence. At every step of the way, they meet women and families with love and with the understanding that, while no one is perfect, if you deal with the trauma in your life, you can learn to cope and find healing.

Shadyside Presbyterian Church has helped to transform vacant property into a play yard for the children of Sojourner House MOMS. The church has hosted the mothers and their children at the annual Strawberry Festival, and also has held retreats for the mothers while providing craft projects for their children. In addition, the women of Sojourner House and MOMS are recipients of SPC’s “Giving Tree” program in December.

One way you can support Sojourner House is to attend the Strawberry Festival on Friday, June 3, 2022. Every dollar spent at the event will go directly to Sojourner House to support its ability to provide compassionate, faith-based recovery services to women and their families.

If you would like to help beyond attending the Strawberry Festival, Sojourner House is always in need of items for residents, such as toothbrushes, diapers, baby wipes, soap, hand sanitizer, face masks, craft supplies for children, and housewarming baskets with linens.

For more information, visit the Sojourner House website at www.sojournerhousepa.org.

Watch the Minute for Mission