John Walker Returns to Shadyside

Dr. John Walker (Photograph taken by Nadine Photography)
Dr. John 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.

Curt Scheib: Thirty Years of Music Ministry

Dr. Curt A. Scheib
Dr. Curt A. Scheib
On Sunday, August 20, we celebrate the long and significant ministry of Dr. Curt A. Scheib, who retires from the Chancel Choir after thirty years of faithful service. Throughout his many years with us, his steadfast commitment to the church and its music program has been both broad and deep.

Dr. Scheib began sharing his musical talents with Shadyside Presbyterian Church in 1987, in the last weeks of Russell Wichmann’s tenure as Director of Music. We thank God for blessing Dr. Scheib with such musical gifts, and we thank him for sharing those talents with us in so many ways — as a chorister, bass soloist, music assistant, substitute organist, and occasional choir conductor. For many years, he also served on the church staff as the Director of the Shadyside Choral Society, a group of community singers dedicated to singing sacred repertoire. In addition, Dr. Scheib shouldered the significant responsibilities of our music program as the Interim Director of Music — not just once, but twice, ensuring seamless transitions in our musical leadership.

Dr. Scheib is a Professor of Music and Voice at Seton Hill University, where he also serves as the Dean of Visual and Performing Arts. He will continue to sing the masterworks of choral literature as a member of the professional core of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, the long-standing choral partner of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Please join us in praying for God’s blessings upon him, and plan to join us on Sunday, August 20, as we recognize Curt’s ministry during the service of worship, with an opportunity for individual congregation members to express their appreciation to him during the Time of Fellowship in the Sharp Atrium following the service of worship.

Nancy Shaytar: Forty Years of Faithful Service

Nancy Shaytar, Director of Finance
Nancy Shaytar, Director of Finance

This summer, the Finance Office of Shadyside Presbyterian Church begins a major transition as Nancy Shaytar concludes her forty years of service as the Director of Finance. For months, the Human Resources Committee has worked diligently through a search sub-committee to identify the candidate who is most qualified and best suited to follow Nancy, and we anticipate being able to make a hiring announcement in the near future. To ensure a smooth transition, Nancy will help to train her successor during an orientation period.

We offer our heartfelt thanks to the Lord for Nancy’s faithful service among us, and we rejoice with her in the new opportunities that lie ahead. Please join us in praying for God’s blessings upon her, and plan to join us on Sunday, September 10, as we recognize Nancy’s ministry during the service of worship, with an opportunity for individual congregation members to express their appreciation to her during the potluck picnic following worship.

In a historical document prepared for the occasion of the church’s 125th anniversary, the Reverend Dr. F. Morgan Roberts mentioned “the organization and stability which our church operation has enjoyed because of the thoroughness and integrity of the many services rendered by Nancy Shaytar.” As true as those words were when they were written in 1991, they are even more so now, with the passage of more than twenty-five years in the life of this church.

Joining the church staff in 1977, as Assistant Treasurer under the Reverend Dr. Robert Cleveland Holland, Nancy became known to almost every member of the church as a friend and trusted guardian of the church’s finances. Following the departure of the church’s previous business administrator in 1986, without change of title, she became Dr. Roberts’ closest colleague in giving administrative attention and advice in almost every department of the church’s life. Because of her personal acquaintance with so many members, she was virtually a pastoral associate in matters of management and finance. Recognizing the breadth of her talents and services, she received the title of Financial Administrator in January 1989, and later assumed the role of Director of Finance, a position which she has held for more than two decades.

Nancy is quick to credit her professional longevity to the Lord. Through five senior pastorates and multiple capital campaigns, she has remained wholeheartedly motivated by God and a love of the church. Her prudent guidance in the church’s finances has been not only informed by sound fiscal principles, but also inspired by a strong spiritual sense. “Members of the various boards have always been helpful and supportive,” she adds, “and the congregation has always been responsible in their giving.”

Nancy also remembers with gratitude the kindness and support of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church family, particularly during her husband’s recovery from a serious automobile accident in the early years of her tenure. “I will always cherish the relationships and friendships I have enjoyed with both the staff and the congregation throughout the time of my employment,” she says.

Over the past four decades, Nancy has been numbered among the church’s most trusted staff members. God has blessed us incalculably through her careful stewardship, which has served the church well in innumerable ways, both known and unknown.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Colossians 3:17

“Nancy Shaytar has been the embodiment of this Scripture,” says the Reverend Dr. Conrad C. Sharps. “From the moment of my arrival, it became apparent that Nancy was far more than our Director of Finance; she was part of the heartbeat of Shadyside Presbyterian Church,” he observes.

“Her years of dedication have demonstrated not only the highest degree of professionalism, but also have extended into the realm of personal relationships and care. The members of this church have entrusted Nancy with their personal commitments to our Lord and to our beloved church as well as their personal stories,” continues Dr. Sharps. “We offer Nancy our deepest gratitude and devotion for her ministry among us these many years!”

Sojourner House Recognizes Volunteers

Pearl of Hope Honoree Ann Brooks with her son, Gordon Mann
Ann Brooks with her son Gordon Mann during Sojourner House’s 13th Annual Victorian Tea at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory

On Friday, June 9, Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s 24th Annual Strawberry Festival was held in partnership with Sojourner House, and the proceeds from the event supported the Sojourner House MOMS program. Earlier this spring, Sojourner House held its annual volunteer recognition event on April 12 to thank all of the volunteers who have given of their time, effort, and compassion so generously.

Also, on April 23, during Sojourner House’s 13th Annual Victorian Tea at Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory, Ann Brooks was honored with the Pearl of Hope Award. Given each year at this “friend-raiser” event, the award recognizes a volunteer who has made a difference in the lives of Sojourner House families. For the past seven years, Ann has been directly providing our mission partner’s mothers and children with basic needs, such as clothing, shoes, and coats. She also organizes a monthly Bingo game and brings prizes and good cheer for the families. Below, Ann relates how she came to volunteer with Sojourner House and the family influences who inspired her to share her time joyfully.

Pearl of Hope Honoree Ann Brooks
Pearl of Hope Honoree Ann Brooks

Volunteering is a strong calling for me, instilled by my parents and my grandmother. We didn’t know the phrase “paying it forward,” but that’s what I witnessed growing up. My mom threw herself into church activities, PTA, community improvements, even a brief flirtation with politics. My father avoided anything that might involve “another stupid meeting,” but he was the man everyone turned to when they needed a ride to the grocery store, lawn mower repairs, Christmas trees for the senior center.


Raising a son who is a risk-taker, watching my husband struggle to stop smoking, dealing with my own occasional bouts of gloominess; I think these experiences are the reason I became interested in the women working through the journey that is Sojourner House. Their decision to change their lives, to protect and nurture their children is wonderful, but I think the process must be terrifying as well. I wanted to help them succeed but couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t backfire, perhaps make things worse (e.g., my poorly executed craft projects)!


When I told my daughter Evelyn about my dilemma, she said, “Mum, you’re good at finding bargains. Go and shop.”


I did shop — a lot. I found baby clothes, kitchen wares, miscellaneous seemingly unusable super-bargains. That’s when Evelyn came up with her second brainstorm. She recalled when we played “Bingo for Books” at Pittsburgh elementary schools, suggesting we try it at Sojourner House and use the accumulating gewgaws for prizes. Bingo has been a delight, a chance for moms and children to play together and act a little silly.


Back to my Grandma Drake, whom I loved with all my heart. She was a bit of a Calvinist and used to warn me that if I enjoyed something too much it “wouldn’t count.” I’d laugh, ask her why it mattered if it counted, counted for what? I still don’t have answers, but Grammy, I am enjoying it!

Ann Brooks

Celebrating Kendra Buckwalter Smith’s Ordination

The Reverend Dr. Edwin van Driel, Directors’ Bicentennial Associate Professor of Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Reverend Kendra Buckwalter Smith, Worship Coordinator at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Photo by Christopher Ruth)
The Reverend Dr. Edwin van Driel, Directors’ Bicentennial Associate Professor of Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and the Reverend Kendra Buckwalter Smith, Worship Coordinator at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Photo by Christopher Ruth)

On the afternoon of Sunday, April 30, the Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained Kendra Buckwalter Smith in the Sanctuary of Shadyside Presbyterian Church as the worship coordinator of the chapel program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS). In addition to Rev. Todd Leach and Rev. Lynn Portz, participants included Elders Nathaniel Hunter and Percy Jackson, Rev. Gavin Walton, members of the Chancel Choir of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Dr. Edwin van Driel, PTS professor of theology and Kendra’s adviser for her master of sacred theology project. We rejoice with Kendra and the PTS community as they celebrate the beginning of Kendra’s ministry as Minister of Word and Sacrament. We thank God for the blessing Kendra has been — and continues to be — to our congregation since 2004, and for calling Kendra to service amongst us in Pittsburgh. Please join us in praying for God’s abundant blessings upon Kendra.

An album of photographs from the service of ordination has been published on Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s Facebook; you may view it here even if you do not have a Facebook account. (Photographs taken by Christopher Ruth.)

Learn more about Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith’s ministry at PTS.

Ordained teaching and ruling elders participate in the laying on of hands during the prayer of ordination for Kendra Buckwalter Smith on Sunday, April 30, at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. (Photo by Christopher Ruth.)
Ordained teaching and ruling elders participate in the laying on of hands during the prayer of ordination for Kendra Buckwalter Smith on Sunday, April 30, at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. (Photo by Christopher Ruth.)

Lent Devotional: Maundy Thursday

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS) has published daily devotionals throughout this Lenten season. The reflection for Maundy Thursday was written by Rev. John F. Magnuson, Associate Pastor for Discipleship at Shadyside Presbyterian Church and M.Div. graduate ’13 from PTS.


John 17:1-11 (Read the passage here)


Through this journey of Lent, we slow our pace to a crawl during Holy Week. We pause each day to remember the last moments of Jesus’ earthly life before His crucifixion. On this Maundy Thursday, we find ourselves with the disciples resting at the feet of Jesus as He offers this prayer.

With Jesus’ prayer washing over us, we wish for His words to linger just a little while longer, so that we may bask in His love and care for us. We hold on to these words, for we know that the words to come next are those of betrayal. Together, Jesus’ prayer and His subsequent betrayal act for us as a mirror in which we see, simultaneously, both God’s desire for us and our own disobedient brokenness.

As we pause to sit with Jesus’ prayer, may we also sit with Him on the night of His betrayal. Resting in this tension, may we sit still enough to see through the cracks of our lives as His grace shines through to fulfill the hope of His prayer.


Ever faithful God, we give You thanks that, on the night of Your betrayal, You were not concerned for Yourself, but prayed for us, and for all Your disciples, that we may be one. By Your Spirit, unite us through Your grace, peace, and love. Amen.

Contributed by Rev. John F. Magnuson, Associate Pastor for Discipleship at Shadyside Presbyterian Church

This Lenten devotional was originally published online here.

Rooted in the Reformed tradition, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is preparing people for existing and new ministries, in a variety of communities.

Celebrating Gavin Walton’s Ordination

Gavin Walton
Gavin Walton

The Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ordained Gavin Walton on Sunday, January 22, at Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church. Since 2010, Gavin has been a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC), and, in May 2016, he successfully completed the denomination’s care process, which he entered under the sponsorship of the Session of SPC. Gavin will serve as Temporary Pastor at Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, a sister congregation in the nearby Hill District of Pittsburgh with which Shadyside has enjoyed a long relationship.

In June 2016, Gavin wrote the following message to SPC:

“I wanted to thank you all for your prayers and support along the way. . . . I wanted to reaffirm my love and appreciation for my home church. I would have never made it to the point of realizing God’s purpose for me if not for your rearing and guidance during these formative years. As I seek to help a congregation live into God’s vision for them, I will remember and (try to) emulate the love and discipleship with which you have blessed me.”

Please support Gavin with your prayers as he officially begins his ministry.