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

New Mission Structure

Befriending, Knowing, Uniting with Neighbors

“ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ … ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” — Mark 12:30-31

Through Shadyside Presbyterian Church, members and friends engage our community in a variety of ways. Embracing Christ’s claim that the Kingdom of God is among us, we are called to serve and support mission partners, and together we witness God’s love in action. We join these efforts of building for the Kingdom as we engage both with and alongside neighbors locally and around the world. In journeying together, we come to know more fully others and ourselves.

This refreshed vision for our mission structure is “Befriending Neighbors, Knowing Neighbors, and Uniting with Neighbors.”

Befriending Neighbors (one-time opportunities)

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me food, I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you gave Me clothing, I was sick and you took care of Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.” — Matthew 25:35-36

We befriend our neighbors as we assist them with their immediate needs. Though Shadyside Presbyterian is committed to fulfilling these needs on a long-term basis, members and friends can join the ministry as their schedules allow. Opportunities such as providing meals at East End Cooperative Ministry and buying gifts for the Giving Tree which supports Sojourner House and POWER (Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery) are examples of Befriending Neighbors.

Knowing Neighbors (longer term opportunities)

“As long as Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed. But when he lowered them, Amalek prevailed. … When Moses’ hands grew weary, Aaron and Hur held his hands up, one on each side, so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down.” — Exodus 17:11-12

Frequent and consistent interactions — either in a group or one-to-one — allow us to know our neighbors. In journeying together, we know that Christ is present, and these relationships may become long-lasting as we uphold our mutual goals. Opportunities such as mentoring a student at The Neighborhood Academy or helping refugee families arriving through Jewish Family and Community Services are examples of Knowing Neighbors.

Uniting with Neighbors (opportunities to engage more fully with our partners)

“… And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” — Micah 6:8

As we befriend and know our neighbors, we also must serve as advocates to address the barriers that prevent God’s love from being felt by all. We look for opportunities to link arm and arm with our mission partners to transform our world, do justice, and love kindness. Uniting with Neighbors is the third branch of our mission work.

A Request to Hear from You

Very soon, two requests will be shared: an anonymous survey and a personalized skills inventory will be published on paper and in email. The Uniting with Neighbors workgroup is keen to learn how mission work generates enthusiasm and what talents exist across our congregation. Your feedback will guide how we sustain awareness of the great work accomplished by our collaborations with mission partners. The skills inventory will help us link respondents to rousing activities directly suited to their interests.

These requests to hear your voice will be shared during the spring of 2022. The results will be shared in the summer, guiding the development of the calendar for fall 2022 through spring 2023.

If you have questions about the request for information or feel called to support any aspect of our mission framework, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office.

Pittsburgh Marathon 2022

Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2022

Ten members and friends of Shadyside Presbyterian Church are preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1. 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 fundraising pages:

Please also keep the runners in your prayers.

Slice Oranges and Make Signs

Volunteers are needed the day before the race, Saturday, April 30, at 1:00 p.m. to slice oranges in the church kitchen and make signs to encourage runners. 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 Kaysie Strickland in the church office.

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 1. To help, please contact Kaysie Strickland in the church office.


Marathon weekend concludes with worship in the Sanctuary at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1. Due to the church’s location within the marathon route, our service of worship has been re-scheduled from the morning to the afternoon. Wesley C. Smith, Student Assistant Pastor, will preach, and we will celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. (Communion will be served in a manner similar to our midweek services. Please read the invitation on our website.) 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 enjoy an outdoor time of fellowship. (Worship will not be held at 11:00 a.m., and Christian Education classes will not be held on-site at 9:45 a.m.; the adult Christian Education study will meet via Zoom only, with an archival recording available for playback afterward.)

Farewell Letter to Congregation from Rev. Portz

A Parting Message from Our Associate Pastor for Parish Life

Dear friends in Christ,

First of all, Doug and I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to you, our beloved church, for the love and care you have extended to us during the past months while I have been undergoing medical treatment. Your many expressions of kindness, encouragement, and support have sustained us in untold ways; the power of your prayers has undergirded us and assured us that we are not alone in this journey. Thanks also to the Session, the Deacons, and the Care Team, and to Austin, Kendra, and the church staff for the special care you have offered to us. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all.

It has been said that life is a series of new beginnings. Indeed, our God is continuously calling us to follow into paths unknown, giving us wisdom and strength for every challenge, and often surprising us with unexpected delight.

In 2009, I was called to a new beginning as your Associate Pastor for Parish Life. In these years, we have grown together in our understanding of who God is, who we are as a church, and what we are being called to be and to do as God’s people. We have faced transitions with resiliency; we have prayed together for the Spirit to lead us; we have rejoiced and wept as one as we experienced both triumph and heartache in our lives, and in our community and world. What an honor it is to be a part of this faithful, dedicated congregation!

This past fall, I was faced with another unexpected new beginning, the journey of cancer. As unwelcome as this was, this time has provided many opportunities for me to experience more fully the abundant mercies of God. I have learned what it is, not only to care for others, but to be the recipient of gracious generosity and compassion. I have been reminded that, in spite of our best efforts, there are things in life beyond our control; yet God’s steadfast love never leaves us. I have experienced firsthand the power of Christ’s love made manifest in God’s people. I am so very grateful for all of these learnings, and so much more.

My times of prayer and reflection in these past months have led me to the realization that I am now being called to another new beginning: on Wednesday I announced to the Session my intention to retire, effective May 31, 2022. Even as I write this, my heart is full, for this brings both grief and anticipation. Indeed, I have dearly missed being with all of you during my medical leave, but in the future, my absence from Shadyside Presbyterian Church will be a more enduring one. I will miss having the privilege of walking, praying, and worshipping with you through the many new beginnings of your own lives; I will miss the joy of being a part of this new thing that God is doing at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in the years ahead. And yet, I am excited for the opportunity to be attuned to the many other ways in which God is calling me to be present in the lives of my family, and in the wider Church of Jesus Christ.

It has been my deepest honor to have served as pastor of four different congregations over more than forty years of ministry. In these years, our world has changed and the Church has changed. Through it all, Christ’s power and grace have sustained us, for we serve a God who will not let us go.

In the past thirteen years of ministry with Shadyside Presbyterian Church, I have been so very blessed to work alongside wonderful colleagues, committed staff, and leaders and members who desire above all else to serve God with energy, enthusiasm, and grace. I will treasure each one of you in my heart forever, and I will always cherish the memories of our times together.

I hope to rejoin you in late April/early May. My last Sunday with you will be May 22. My deepest desire in the time remaining is to have the opportunity to worship with you and enjoy conversation and fellowship, celebrating our time together, and praying God’s blessing upon all of the new beginnings yet to come in the life of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. I am so very thankful for these years spent in ministry together with you, and I know that God will continue to bless you abundantly in the years ahead.

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you … that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you determine what is best … the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3-11 sel.)

In Christ,

Reverend Lynn M. Portz
Associate Pastor for Parish Life

Partner Spotlight: Orphan Care in Malawi

Care Center for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Soche, Malawi

Moni mpingbo onse. Hello, Shadyside, from our Christian brothers and sisters in the Church of the Central African Presbytery (CCAP) and especially our sister church in Soche, Malawi.

Photographs showing the progress of the construction of the care center for orphans and vulnerable children in Soche, Malawi (clockwise from top left): consecrating the ground on October 24, 2021; walls erected in November 2021; members of Soche Church anticipating the blessings of a new ministry; roof installed January 2022.

Shadyside’s tradition of ministry and partnership in Malawi extends more than thirty years and includes the church sanctuary at Soche CCAP; the H. Parker Sharp medical clinic; the Emily House nursing student dormitory; and three centers for orphans and vulnerable children at Presbyterian churches in Chaweza, Bilila, and Mwanza. Our most recent visit to Malawi in 2014 included visits at each of these locations and a truly wonderful opportunity to share worship and Communion with our brothers and sisters at Soche. We have been there, and our friends from Malawi have been here. Most recently, Henderson, Evance, Lindirabe, and Ruth joined us to celebrate our sesquicentennial anniversary in 2016, when our congregation joined with their congregation’s dream of an orphan care center to serve the children in Soche’s surrounding communities.

The orphan care situation in Malawi is dire. In Malawi, a child is considered an orphan when the family’s primary provider is lost. Nearly one in every ten Malawians is an orphan, amounting to 1.5 million children — one million of whom lost one or both parents to AIDS. The strain on the family and the risk to the child are immense.

Malawians are a beautiful people — truly living their motto as “the warm heart of Africa” — and yet Malawi is among the world’s poorest countries. The Church in Malawi is helping to meet the orphan care crisis through the development of local-church owned and operated centers for orphans and vulnerable children. These centers provide children with a safe place to go during the day so their caregivers can work. Programming at the centers includes education, nutrition, and even a safe place to take a nap.

By God’s grace, and with our help and prayers, Soche is rapidly realizing their vision of an orphan care center. Together, we have witnessed what was an empty field last September has become a building with a roof already — and will be completed early this spring, more than six months ahead of schedule! Soche’s center will soon serve more than 120 children every day.

Scripture tells us that whatever we do to the least of God’s family, we do to Christ Himself. We are especially blessed to be a part of this ministry. It offers these children and their caregivers a future with hope.

Zikomo kwambiri. Thank you very much,
Elder Donald P. Coffelt

Watch the Minute for Mission