Seven years ago, you all graciously welcomed me, a seminary intern, into your midst. Through many coffees, mornings in worship, retreats, and mission trips, you invited this seminary intern to be a part of your family. And as I started a family of my own, you welcomed Olivia, Ruthie, and Foster as part of your family, as well. I am forever grateful for the love, graciousness, and hospitality extended to our family from the Shadyside Presbyterian Church family. Together we have grown in God’s ministry and have experienced God’s love through each other.
Seven years ago as an intern, I never would have seen myself serving a large urban church like Shadyside. Growing up in a small congregation and attending a medium-sized rural church in college, I remember seeing myself as a pastor of a smaller congregation. However, God called us together, and in the last seven years I have been blessed to serve in ministry with you all. Now it is hard for me to imagine serving anywhere but Shadyside. However, I have felt God moving again and have been called to serve as Associate Pastor of Discipleship at a PC(USA) church in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I write this letter with both joy and sadness, as I recount so many formative memories in my life surrounded by members and friends of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. I give God thanks for placing us in one another’s lives, for the ways I have encountered God through you all, and for the opportunity to grow into the pastor that I am today.
I hope to get a chance to say goodbye to you all over the next few weeks – please be sure to reach out for a coffee – and, if our paths don’t cross before my last date, please know of my gratitude for you all. My last day in worship will be Sunday, July 14, and we will be leaving soon after to get settled in Charlotte.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. John F. Magnuson
Senior Pastor Search Begins
The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) was elected at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation on May 19, 2019. The members of the PNC are Susan W. Balaan, Sara G. Brooke, Donald P. Coffelt Jr., Percy M. Jackson, Adam D. Loucks, Ann E. Pauley, and Janet B. Rohrer. We thank each one of these members for taking on this important responsibility. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin their work.
Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 5, 2019
Twenty-five members and friends of Shadyside Presbyterian Church are preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 5. The entire church is invited to run alongside them in a number of exciting ways:
Show Your Support
This year, we are again honored to be running with our local mission partner, Open Hand Ministries (OHM). Shadyside runners are running with a purpose to support OHM’s urban-renewal work in the Garfield and East Liberty communities. To support our runners financially, visit their pages at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/open-hand-ministries-pittsburgh-marathon-2019/.
Join the runners and meet our mission partner at a carbo-loading pasta dinner and pep rally on Friday, May 3, at 6:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Please RSVP by contacting the church office or signing up in the Sharp Atrium no later than Sunday, April 28. If you are interested in helping with the dinner, please contact Rev. John Magnuson.
Volunteers are needed the day before the race, Saturday, May 4, at 1:00 p.m. to slice nearly 200 pounds of oranges in the church kitchen. Oranges will be given to runners during the race as they ascend Fifth Avenue, one of the most challenging portions of the 26.2-mile course. To help, please contact the church office or sign up in the Sharp Atrium.
Be a Fan
Shadyside’s cheer station will once again be located near the church at the corner of Amberson and Fifth Avenues. Not only will we pass out orange slices and fruit chews, we will be the words of encouragement as the athletes run their race with perseverance and strength. Rain or shine, be prepared to cheer with enthusiasm from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 5.
Marathon weekend concludes with worship in the Sanctuary at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. Due to the church’s location within the marathon route, our service of worship moves from the morning to the afternoon. The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles will preach, and Communion will be served by intinction. Nursery care will be available during the 4:00 p.m. service. As a fitting conclusion to Marathon Weekend, this will serve as a reminder that acts of running, giving, and encouraging are all done in worship. Following the service in the Sanctuary, all are invited to join us for fellowship in the fresh outdoors as we are joined by Garfield Community Farm’s Mobile Market and Mission Mahi’s food truck. Learn more.
Introducing “As Your Dear Friend Once Welcomed You”
On Sunday, April 7, 2019, the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir and congregation sang a brand new hymn, “As Your Dear Friend Once Welcomed You,” which was written for that particular service of worship. The text was by our own Rev. Dr. John Dalles, set to a tune composed by our own Mark Anderson.
Dr. Dalles is the author of numerous hymn texts, including “Come, O Spirit” and “God, Bless Your Church with Strength,” which are included in the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal. His commissioned hymns include those for Presbyterian Heritage Sunday, Augsburg, Goshen, Maryville, Tusculum, Wilson and Knox (Toronto) Colleges, American University, Pittsburgh and Lancaster Seminaries, Peachtree Presbyterian Church, and the Lutheran World Federation. His works are catalogued at Oberlin College Library and represented by GIA Publications, Oxford University Press, and others. A life-member of the Hymn Society, Dr. Dalles has published three collections of hymns: Swift Currents and Still Waters(2000), We Turn To God (2010), and God Is the Singer’s Friend (2013). His hymns have twice received first place in the highly-regarded Macalester Plymouth Annual Hymn Competition, in 2012 and in 2013.
An active composer, Mr. Anderson has won awards for both his choral compositions and hymns. He has received commissions for hymns, choral music, and brass arrangements from schools, community choirs, and churches, as well as the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Lutheran Psalter, and Princeton Theological Seminary. His music is published independently and by GIA Publications and Augsburg Fortress Press. In addition to composing a hymn (“Bright the Vision That Delighted”) for Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s 150th celebration in 2016, Mark also composed the Kyrie, Gloria Patri, and Sanctus we sing regularly in worship.
Refreshed for the Future and Reflecting on Five Decades of Publication
In 2019, the church’s mysteriously elusive yet seemingly pervasive reporter, The Church Mouse, turns fifty years young! To mark this auspicious occasion, with the first issue of the year (the February issue), the Communications Committee is pleased to introduce an updated design which features full color in its printed format for the first time; its electronic counterpart, The Mini-Mouse, began using the refreshed appearance in January.
The re-design was accomplished with the assistance of the creative team from Imagebox Productions. Imagebox is the same group responsible for the re-development of the shadysidepres.org website several years ago, and has since provided additional design support for several of the church’s printed projects.
“Origin stories” produce popular plots for book and film audiences nowadays — so, as the Mouse enters its 50th year of publication, we wondered, what is the background of the beloved rodent? We spoke to some of the Mouse’s closest associates to gain some insights about our furry and informative friend.
Compared to the full history of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, which spans more than 150 years of ministry and mission, the Mouse is a relative newcomer. Prior to the arrival of the Mouse, the narrative of the church was chronicled through The Shadyside Scribe. What might have been the impetus for the introduction of this modest mascot to the masthead of the church’s official communiqué?
The answer lies partly, of course, in the proverbial “church mouse” — a metaphorical symbol through the centuries for one who may be poor, but is perfectly positioned to observe all the goings-on in the curious building adopted as its home. This common image may have inspired the incorporation of mice into some of our church’s ornamentation. Wooden panels in the Sanctuary contain scrolling carvings of both field mice and birds nestled amongst thistles, leaves, and floral motifs.
Charles Marcus Osborn’s avian carvings may have been inspired by Psalm 84:3, but the presence of the mice invites more musing. It may not be too far-fetched to imagine that Osborn, while envisioning his designs in 1938, had in mind this Scripture: “The tree grew great and strong, its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the ends of the whole earth. Its foliage was beautiful, its fruit abundant, and it provided food for all. The animals of the field found shade under it, the birds of the air nested in its branches, and from it all living beings were fed” (Daniel 4:11-12, emphasis added). Scholars often think Jesus is recalling this imagery when He describes the Kingdom of God in the parable of the mustard seed.
Perhaps there is even more undergirding Shadyside’s selection of the mouse as the newsletter’s titular entity than carved décor. One former editor considered that “the Mouse provides a bit of whimsy” for an institution that could, at times, seem unwittingly imposing or austere. This “whimsical” and light-hearted nature of the mouse signals to readers that we do not have to take ourselves quite so seriously all the time and might prevent us from appearing overly staid or humorless. Another aspect of our meek mouthpiece is the inference that everything reported within these pages has been “overheard” by the little ears of one who is eager to share good news — The Good News, even — rather than a self-congratulatory broadcast intended to pat ourselves on the back.
Furthermore, in a way, the Mouse’s unassuming stature grants permission to pay attention to all things, great and small. Indeed, this humble creature with a huge heart has done just that for half a century and invites us all to do the same. We hope you will continue to enjoy reading The Church Mouse to be informed about and inspired by all the good God is accomplishing in and through Shadyside Presbyterian Church.
So — can you find Shadyside’s wooden mouse carving?
Here’s a hint: The Mouse doesn’t work alone — in fact, there’s a vast network of mice — and, over the years, the mice have been chummy with the Chancel Choir choristers. You might say they’re very close. “Seek, and ye shall find!”
Welcoming Rev. Michael Stanton
Rev. Stanton was ordained by the PC(USA) to the position of Executive Director of Open Hand Ministries, Inc., one of our mission partners in Garfield and East Liberty which is committed to promoting justice and equality through homeownership. In 2007, Rev. Stanton co-founded the ministry with a number of like-hearted individuals and organizations from the neighborhood.
Michael earned his Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2006. He is happily married and living in Garfield with four beautiful children and “too many pets.”
Please join us in welcoming Rev. Stanton to Shadyside’s pulpit.
Welcoming Rev. Derek Davenport
On Sunday, December 30, the Reverend Derek Davenport will preach during the 11:00 a.m. service of worship in the Sanctuary.
Rev. Derek Davenport serves as the Director of the Miller Summer Youth Institute (SYI) at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS). Since 1997, SYI at PTS has helped young people consider two questions: “Who is God calling you to be?” and “What is God calling you to do?” Derek was part of the first class of SYI scholars in 1997. He then served as a part of the re-visioning team in 1999, an intern in 2000, and a counselor (as a PTS student) in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
Before returning to PTS, Derek served as the associate pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Florida. Rev. Davenport loves storytelling, preaching, watching movies, and currently is studying church symbolism in his spare time. He is also a graduate of Grove City College and PTS.
Please join us in welcoming Rev. Davenport to Shadyside’s pulpit.
Session Engages Interim Senior Pastor
With thanksgiving to God, Shadyside Presbyterian Church enthusiastically announces the selection of the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles to serve as Interim Senior Pastor. Last week, Session approved the recommendation of the Human Resources Committee to retain Dr. Dalles as Interim Senior Pastor; this action has been approved subsequently by the Pittsburgh Presbytery, and Dr. Dalles has joyfully accepted the appointment.
Presently, Dr. Dalles serves as the senior pastor and head of staff at Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood, Florida. He also has served congregations in South Bend, Indiana, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, including Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Lancaster Theological Seminary, and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, he has spent more than thirty-five years as a teaching elder and minister of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). A lifelong Presbyterian, John has authored numerous hymn texts, including “Come, O Spirit” and “God, Bless Your Church with Strength,” which appear in the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal. Read a full biography of Dr. Dalles.
We look forward to welcoming Dr. Dalles and his wife Judith to Shadyside in mid-February. Both are excited to return to Pittsburgh for life, work, and service to our church.
We are grateful for the efforts of the Interim Ministry Search Committee — Jayne Adair Cox; Carla M. Gedman; Robert B. Luthultz; Terrence H. Murphy; and Carey T. Vinson, chair — in identifying a candidate for interim ministry. Most especially, we are grateful to God for sending Dr. Dalles to walk alongside us during this time and to help in preparing our congregation for our next senior pastor.
Welcoming Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith as Guest Preacher
On Christ the King Sunday, November 25, the Reverend Kendra Buckwalter Smith will preach during the service of worship at 11:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Please join us in welcoming her to Shadyside’s pulpit.
Rev. Smith serves as the Director of the Worship Program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. A ministerial daughter of our church family, she has attended worship and actively engaged in the life of this congregation since 2004, during her time as an undergraduate student. In 2017, Rev. Smith completed the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church (USA) under the care of the Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church and was ordained in our Sanctuary. Each Sunday, she regularly leads worship by singing with the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir. We give thanks to God for the many ways in which Rev. Smith shares her gifts in our community of faith.
Read more about Rev. Smith.
Pastor Emeritus Publishes New Book
Many Shadysiders remember gratefully sermons of the Reverend Dr. F. Morgan Roberts, Pastor Emeritus, who served as Shadyside’s Senior Pastor from 1985 to 1994 and used his ample storytelling skill in his preaching. His latest book originated as a guide for a men’s discussion group on Christian beliefs. A Beautiful View: A Friendlier Christianity as a Way of Life is a gem of a “little” book through which Dr. Roberts examines modern Christian living in a succinct, yet thorough, text.
While written to guide discussion, the book stands on its own for an individual reader. With the author’s graceful and economic style, the twelve topical chapters make daily, devotional-type reading convenient. However, this reader found the content captivating and finished the book in two pleasant sittings. Dr. Roberts guides the text in a way that is, at once, gentle and thought provoking.
The church received a generous donation to purchase books which will be used, in part, to make twenty copies of A Beautiful View available, at no cost, to interested readers. The books may be picked up on Sunday, November 18, during fellowship in the Parish Hall following worship.
Those who receive the book will know that it cries out to be shared with Christians and with those who are curious about the faith. With Christmas in view, many will want to consider purchasing A Beautiful View for friends and family who may fall into either group.
Contributed by Elder Timothy C. Engleman
About Dr. Roberts
F. Morgan Roberts is Pastor Emeritus of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, where he served as pastor from 1985 until his retirement in May of 1994. A widely known preacher, Dr. Roberts has served churches in New York, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Alabama. He is the author of Are There Horses in Heaven? and Other Thoughts (1996). In addition, he has co-authored two books with John M. Mulder 28 Hymns to Sing Before You Die (2014) and 28 Carols to Sing at Christmas (2015). A member of the Society of Biblical Literature, he has contributed essays to several multi-volume scholarly works.
Dr. Roberts has served the denomination as a member of its General Assembly Mission Council. In 1986, he was preacher to the 198th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Educated at Colgate University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Roberts maintains an active interest in the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.