In Memoriam: The Reverend John D. Dennis

September 18, 1937 – September 4, 2019

Please remember in prayer the family and friends of the Reverend John Davison Dennis, who passed from this life into the Church Triumphant on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, at the age of 81 years old. A ministerial son of our church family, Rev. Dennis was nurtured in his faith at Shadyside Presbyterian Church during the early years of his life, from his baptism in 1938 until his ordination in 1962, both of which occurred in our Sanctuary.

John was born September 18, 1937, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was baptized in Shadyside Presbyterian Church on May 1, 1938, and later joined the church as a member on March 26, 1950. In 1959, he graduated from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, with a degree in economics. When a college professor encouraged him to devote his life to a pursuit other than making money, John applied to, and was accepted at, Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree (1962) and his Master of Theology degree in counseling (1965).

On June 18, 1962, John was ordained by the Presbytery of Pittsburgh in order to serve as Assistant Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Germantown, Pennsylvania. The Reverend Dr. James T. Orr, Moderator of the Presbytery of Pittsburgh at the time, presided over the service, with participation from the Reverend Dr. James H. Blackwood, Associate Pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church; the Reverend Dr. Howard C. Scharfe, Pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church; and the Reverend Dr. Harold E. Scott, Associate Professor of Homiletics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The music for the service was under the direction of Russell G. Wichmann, Shadyside’s organist and choirmaster.

In 1969, Rev. Dennis was called to serve as pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Corvallis, Oregon, in the Presbytery of Willamette, which later became part of the Presbytery of the Cascades. He served as pastor of the church for thirty-seven years, retiring in 2006 as Pastor Emeritus.

John’s service to the church and the world went beyond his work as a pastor. He served terms on many presbytery committees and also served as commissioner to the General Assembly in 1984. In 1978, he was chosen to represent the denomination in the struggle against apartheid and spent four months working at St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. His recommendation that U.S. banks apply tougher rules to loaning money in South Africa based on fair employment practices was adopted by the United Stated and played a part in the fall of apartheid. He served as West Coast Dean for the denomination’s Young Pastor Seminars in the 1980s. From 1995 to 1997, he served two terms as chair of the Board of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. He also organized an effort to provide over 2,000 prosthetic arms and legs to landmine victims in Cambodia.

Rev. Dennis is predeceased by his wife of fifty-two years, Nancy, and survived by sons Michael (wife Allison) and Andrew (wife Rebecca) and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will occur at the First Presbyterian Church, 114 S.W. 8th Street, Corvallis, Oregon, on Saturday, October 12, at 1:00 p.m.

An obituary has been published online; you may read it by following this link.

As we mourn our loss and give thanks to God for a life lived in faithful service, we consider again John’s favorite benediction, words from a poem by Swiss philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel: “Life is short and we have not too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel the way with us. Be swift to love. Make haste to be kind.”

Editor’s Note: Shadyside Presbyterian Church gratefully acknowledges the contributions of G. Dixon Shrum Jr., member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, and Paul Belz-Templeman, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Cascades, to this writing.

Celebrating Rebecca Reeder’s Ordination

The Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) invites you to celebrate the ordination and installation of Rebecca D. Reeder as Associate Pastor of Sewickley Presbyterian Church on Sunday, October 6, at 5:00 p.m. in the Sewickley Presbyterian Church sanctuary, with a dinner reception in the dining hall immediately following.

Above: Rebecca Reeder, with her husband Zachary, celebrates her commencement from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Rebecca Reeder, with her husband Zachary, celebrates her commencement from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in May 2019.

Since 2011, Rebecca has been a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC), and, earlier this year, she successfully completed the denomination’s candidacy process, which she entered under the care of the Session of SPC. In May 2019, she received her Master of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, along with several awards recognizing her achievements, including:

  • The William B. Watson Prize in Hebrew, awarded to that member of the senior class who, having elected Hebrew Exegesis, submitted the best grammatical and exegetical treatment of a portion of the Hebrew Old Testament;
  • The Paul T. Gerrard Prize in Homiletics and Pastoral Care, awarded to the graduating senior Master of Divinity student judged best by the faculty in homiletics and pastoral care and who shows promise for a future in pastoral ministry; and
  • The Thomas Jamison Scholarship, given every year to the member of the senior class who has the highest average at the beginning of his or her final term of study.

On June 30, 2019, the congregation of Sewickley Presbyterian Church voted to extend a call to Rebecca, and she began serving as Associate Pastor Elect on July 1. As the final step in her ordination process, Rebecca presented her statement of faith to the Pittsburgh Presbytery on September 19, and the way is now clear for her ordination and installation.

As a previous member of our church family and our church staff, Rebecca is a ministerial daughter of SPC, and we rejoice with her as she celebrates the beginning of her ministry as Minister of Word and Sacrament. We thank God for the blessing Rebecca has been to our congregation and for calling her into ministry. Please support her through your prayers and your presence at the service.

New Hymn by John Dalles and Mark Anderson

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.

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles

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.

Mark A. Anderson, Director of Music Ministry
Mark A. Anderson

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.

If you were not able to sing this beautiful new hymn with us, or if you simply would like to hear it again, please click here to listen, and read along on pages 12 and 13 of the bulletin (.pdf.).

Rev. Kendra Smith to Preach Nov. 25

Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith
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.

“A Beautiful View” from F. Morgan Roberts

Cover of "A Beautiful View: A Friendlier Christianity as a Way of Life," by Rev. Dr. F. Morgan RobertsPastor 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

Rev. Dr. F. Morgan Roberts
Rev. Dr. F. Morgan Roberts

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.


Rev. Dr. Beverly James to Preach August 5

Rev. Dr. Beverly W. James
Rev. Dr. Beverly W. James
Welcoming Dr. James on Her Return to Shadyside

On Sunday, August 5, the Reverend Dr. Beverly W. James will preach during the service of worship at 11:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Please join us in welcoming her as she returns to Shadyside’s pulpit.

About Dr. James

The Reverend Dr. Beverly W. James serves as Associate Minister to the Pittsburgh Presbytery, where she works with more than sixty congregations in the East and South Branches of Pittsburgh Presbytery, including ours. A Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church for thirty-seven years, Beverly began her service as a Volunteer in Mission in Thailand teaching English as a second language five years before she entered the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. During her seminary studies, she interned among us at Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

Previously, Dr. James has served many churches as Interim Pastor and has a strong commitment to assisting churches and pastors in times of transition. In addition, she has taught as adjunct faculty at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the University of Pittsburgh, and La Roche College.

Beverly earned a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Communication from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Arts of Divinity from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts in English from Carnegie Mellon University, and an A.B. in English from Brown University.

John Walker Returns to Shadyside

Dr. John C. Walker
Dr. John C. Walker
Welcoming John Walker on His Return to Shadyside

Shadyside Presbyterian Church welcomes Dr. John C. Walker as our guest organist during worship on Sunday, July 29, at 11:00 a.m.

Dr. Walker served as the Minister of Music at Shadyside Presbyterian Church from 1992 to 2004. Following his tenure at Shadyside, Dr. Walker went to Baltimore, where he served as the Minister of Music at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, and Professor of Organ at the Peabody Institute of Music. Please join us in welcoming him as he returns to Shadyside.

About Dr. Walker

John Walker is Immediate Past President of the American Guild of Organists. Following earlier distinguished tenures at The Riverside Church in the City of New York and Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, he is Minister of Music Emeritus at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. Gothic, Pro Organo, and JAV recordings have issued numerous CD recordings of his organ performances and choirs under his direction.

As concert organist, Walker has performed throughout America, Europe and Asia. In 2005, he performed his third solo recital at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; in 2006, he made his fourth concert visit to Korea; in 2015 he taught as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; and in 2017 he made his 15thprofessional journey to Taiwan, where in 1999 he was a Fulbright Fellow, appearing frequently with the National Symphony Orchestra and also performing and teaching throughout the country.

Under representation by Phillp Truckenbrod Concert Artists, John Walker has performed recitals and appeared with orchestras and choruses throughout America. In multiple seasons with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, he has performed Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Organ and Percussion, Leos Janácek’s Glagolithic Mass, and the world premiere of Steven Mackey’s Pedal Tones, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony. Widely acclaimed for his dynamic service playing, he has taught that skill in workshops at the Montreat Conference, the Mo Ranch Conference, the Lake Junaluska Conference, the Colby Institute, and elsewhere throughout the nation.

Choirs under Walker’s direction have toured England and Wales, singing for services of Evensong at Westminster Abbey and York Minster; and in Taiwan, presenting concerts and workshops in Tainan, Taichung, and Taipei. In America, choirs under his direction have been featured at regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and have performed choral masterworks with orchestra ranging from compositions by Monteverdi through Stravinsky.

John Walker earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in historic performance practices at Stanford University, where he was also Assistant University Organist. He holds two Master of Music degrees cum laude in organ and music theory from American Conservatory of Music, where he was later appointed to the faculties of organ and music theory. He has been Chair of the Organ Department at Manhattan School of Music and a member of organ faculties at Duquesne University and San Jose State University. He is a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.

Celebrating Jacqueline Spycher’s Ordination

Jacqueline Spycher
Jacqueline Spycher

Please remember in your prayers Jacqueline S. Spycher as she is ordained in an afternoon service of worship on Sunday, January 14, at Northbrook Presbyterian Church in Beverly Hills, Michigan, where she currently serves as a Pastoral Assistant.

Previously, Jackie twice served Shadyside Presbyterian Church as Director of Youth Ministry, from 2002 to 2005, and from 2010 to 2012. In addition to her ministry among us at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Jackie served in a part-time role with Young Women’s Leadership Development through the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the General Assembly. Between her terms of employment at SPC, she also worked with Sojourners in Washington, D.C., and as a teacher in Michigan. Following her departure in 2012, she pursued full-time seminary education through the Divinity School at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and completed the inquirer’s process for ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA) through her home congregation in Michigan.

We are grateful for Jackie’s ministry among us in the past – for a combined total of ten years as a volunteer, intern, and program director – and especially for her spiritual care of our youth and their families during her multiple tenures at SPC.

As a previous member of our church family and our church staff, Jackie is a ministerial daughter of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, and we rejoice with her as she celebrates the beginning of her ministry as Minister of Word and Sacrament. We thank God for the blessing Jackie has been to our congregation and for calling her into ministry. Please join us in praying for God’s continued blessings upon Jackie.

In Memoriam: The Reverend Dr. Douglas S. Pride

January 13, 1959 – December 2, 2017

Please remember in prayer the family and friends of the Reverend Dr. Douglas S. Pride, who passed from this life into the Church Triumphant on Saturday, December 2. Dr. Pride served as the Assistant Pastor for Christian Education during more than eight years of ministry at Shadyside Presbyterian Church from 1983 to 1991.

Upon receiving his Master of Divinity from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1983, Doug accepted the call to Shadyside Presbyterian Church and was ordained at the Avonmore Presbyterian Church.  Months after his arrival at Shadyside, the church experienced a challenging chapter in its history, due in part to the sudden passing of the Reverend Dr. Robert Cleveland Holland in addition to the major changes in Pittsburgh’s industrial and economic structure which unfolded during that decade.  God’s provision of excellent leadership — both lay and clergy — was a blessing to a grieving and embattled congregation, and Doug’s talents number among the remarkable and outstanding gifts for which Shadyside Presbyterian Church gives thanks.

A historical document published for the occasion of the church’s 125th anniversary in 1991 noted Doug’s ministry was distinguished by the widest possible diversity.  Beginning in the general area of Christian education and youth ministry, he branched out into many other parts of the church’s work.  He made pastoral friendships across a wide age range of the church membership, especially our oldest members, with whom he carried out an exceptionally effective ministry.

Beyond the immediate impact of his tenure at Shadyside, he continued to have an impressive and far-reaching effect on the shape of the church’s programs and personnel.  He had a particular talent for connecting the church with new staff and ministries — particularly in the areas of children, youth, and community outreach — and, in this way, his presence continued to be felt even after his departure in 1991 to serve at the Presbyterian Church of Clearfield, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Pride is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Armstrong Pride, of Ann Arbor, Michigan; daughters Kathryn and Jennifer, of Chicago, Illinois, and Pamela, of Ann Arbor; and a sister, Janet Mills, and her husband, Dr. Stephen Mills, of Latrobe.

Visitation will take place at Ferguson Funeral Home, 25 West Market Street, Blairsville, from 2:00 to 4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, December 8. A service will occur at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, 200 N. Market Street, Ligonier, on Saturday, December 9, at noon, preceded by an additional visitation beginning at 10:00 a.m.

An obituary has been published online; you may read it by following this link.

Pastoral Portrait

Lauren and Conrad Sharps at the unveiling of artist Jason Bouldin's portrait of Dr. Sharps
Lauren and Conrad Sharps attend the unveiling of the portrait.
In October 2017, Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, unveiled a portrait of Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s senior pastor, the Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps, executed by the acclaimed portrait artist Jason Bouldin. Mr. Bouldin poured not only countless hours of work into this painting, but his magnificent God-given talents and his Christian faith.

A native of Clarksdale, Mississippi, Jason Bouldin obtained his bachelor’s degree in art history from Harvard University and received his studio training directly from his father, the late portraitist, Marshall Bouldin III.

Jason’s work has earned international recognition. His portraits have been selected nine times for the Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition in London, England; and he has been awarded the Grand Prize of the International Portrait Competition sponsored by the Portrait Society of America.

Jason Bouldin
Jason Bouldin

His public commissions hang in such varied locations as the United States Department of Agriculture, the Judiciary Committee Room of the United States House of Representatives, Harvard University, and Willcox House in London, in addition to more than a dozen U.S. Federal courthouses, representing more than twenty official portraits for the U.S. Federal Judiciary.

Jason lives and paints in Oxford, Mississippi. A lifelong Presbyterian, he is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Oxford.

Watch a time-lapse video of the artist at work.