Roof Replacement Project to Begin

Detail of Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s “Digital Mosaic,” illustrated by Mark Bender. All rights reserved by Shadyside Presbyterian Church.This summer, a once-in-a-century project is scheduled to begin at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Our existing slate roof has reached the end of its life and is in need of a full replacement.

In 2019, after a series of roof leaks and evidence of deterioration, the Building and Grounds Committee retained a roofing consultant to provide a condition assessment of our slate roofs. The consultant’s report indicated that the roofs had between five and seven years of remaining useful life, with some areas needing to be repaired immediately. Subsequent to the consultant’s report, Building and Grounds authorized multiple repairs to address ongoing roof leaks while planning for a full-scale replacement of all slate roofs.

In late 2021, after conducting research to identify architects experienced in roof replacements and historic buildings, the church issued requests for proposals to three firms. After interviewing two firms, Building and Grounds selected MCF Architecture to lead a team of design professionals that includes a specialized roof consultant and a structural engineer. MCF has previously worked with the church on a façade restoration project and has extensive experience with roofing projects and historic buildings similar to our church.

The design team conducted a thorough analysis of the condition of our slate roofs and associated building components. This process utilized scaffolding to gain access to the underside of the roof in multiple interior locations, personnel lifts for exterior inspections, and drones equipped with high-resolution cameras, enabling detailed imagery of the roof, masonry, and other building elements in hard-to-reach locations.
The design professionals concluded that, while the building’s structural elements are in very good condition, the roof and associated accessories should be replaced and certain areas of stone masonry require repointing. In response, Building and Grounds authorized MCF to prepare construction documents in anticipation of a competitive bid process.

In its oversight of the design process, Building and Grounds has been committed to respecting the original design intent of our present church building while implementing advanced and proven building materials and techniques. Our goal is to maximize the longevity and quality of the new roof without sacrificing the character and historic nature of our beloved building. We believe this goal to be especially important considering the investment we are making in this project and the church’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Church records show that architects Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge chose a black slate for the roof of our present church. Our consultant believes that the existing slate was sourced from a quarry in Pennsylvania. The design team noted that slate from Pennsylvania is not of the highest quality and is prone to fading, which is likely why the existing slate has varying tones of brown and other colors. Respecting the original intent to source a black slate, Building and Grounds, at the recommendation of our design team, has selected a non-fading Canadian Black slate from a quarry in Quebec, Canada. This slate is classified as Grade S1 by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which is the highest quality available. We received material and shipping quotations for the Canadian Black slate from two sources vetted by our design team and secured a production spot from the best value provider to allow for timely delivery of materials once the quarry resumes operations later this spring.

For flashing materials, we have selected stainless steel, which has optimal lifespan, for concealed locations and twenty-ounce copper for exposed locations. These selections maximize value and longevity while respecting traditional aesthetics consistent with the original design.

Please be aware that the dark color of the slate and the shiny new copper, which will patina over time, will be a significant aesthetic change from the current materials. We believe this change will be an enhancement consistent with the original design intent and hope that it is well-received by all considering the historic context outlined above.

Volpatt Construction has been retained to serve as our construction manager for the roof replacement project. They were selected after receiving proposals from three firms. Some readers may recall that Volpatt was the contractor for the Sharp Atrium project. Volpatt conducted trade bidding for the roof project earlier this year. All bidders were prequalified by the project delivery team. Miller-Thomas-Gyekis, Inc. (MTG Roofing) and Mariani and Richards, Inc. have been selected for the roofing and masonry work, respectively. An electrical contractor, needed for the snow melt and lightning protection work, has not yet been selected as we may elect to bundle this scope with other planned electrical improvements.

In terms of logistics, access to the roof will require scaffolding of the building. Scaffolding is currently planned to be done in phases. The contractors are required to maintain access to key entry and exit points throughout the project, although temporary closures of certain entry points are a possibility. Advanced notice of any temporary closures will be provided to the congregation. The lawn at the drive circle will be utilized for staging of materials and equipment and will be fully restored upon completion of the work. The north entrance to the circular drive will also be closed during most of the construction period. These areas will be secured using fencing with privacy screening. The driveway to the rear parking lot will remain open for use, as will sidewalks to the nursery school entrance. Portions of the sidewalk along Westminster Place will be closed for a period of time, both for this project and to facilitate work on a separate project involving replacement of storm water lines.

The City of Pittsburgh has issued a building permit for the project. We are currently working with the slate quarry to finalize their production timeline. The current anticipated project start date is late May, but the project schedule is dependent on quarry production and shipping. Once started, the project is anticipated to take nine months.

The Building and Grounds Committee is grateful for the support we have received from staff, the Board of Trustees, and Session during the planning and design phases of this project. We would also like to extend a special thank you to Tim Engleman, who provided information pertaining to the original design of our present building. We ask for your patience as this important project moves forward in the months ahead. Thank you.

Trustee Alexander G. Dick
Co-Chair, Building and Grounds Committee

Reflecting on the Pastorate of Dr. Barnes

A Reflection from Shadyside’s Resident Historian on the Pastorate of Our Tenth Senior Pastor
The Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes
The Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes

The Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes is widely and accurately recognized as one of the best preachers in America. However, those who know him well understand the root of that inspired proclamation: a crucial part of his identity lies in being a pastor. That became clear when he graciously considered the clearly impractical idea of a shared ministry between Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Careful analysis showed that the seminary would require two-thirds of his time, and the church would require the other two-thirds of his time. He responded, quite pastorally, that the question is not how to make that work; rather, should it work? If the Holy Spirit is in the call, it will work.

Dr. Barnes recognized that his new congregation had, by 2003, come through a deeply disappointing pastorate, tempered by a long and healing interim pastorate. He urged the church to use its significant legacy as a sail rather than an anchor. He knew that worship — formal, reverential, Reformed worship — is the wellspring of all that Shadyside Church is and does. His refinements to that tradition of excellence helped renew the wellspring.

Dr. Barnes saw an opportunity — a need, really — to expand the church’s mission ministry; and discerned the will of Shadyside members to support that initiative. The congregation embraced the idea to elevate mission leadership to a pastoral position. The success bestowed on our mission work by the Holy Spirit has led us to renew and re-envision that pastoral leadership.

One of Pittsburgh’s best-kept secrets was the genuine welcoming spirit of Shadyside Church. With church leaders, Dr. Barnes guided the congregation to a ministry theme of “Building Community.” One result was the reconfiguration and expansion of our historic buildings to become a more inviting place for fellowship and a more effective base for outreach. A side benefit emerged: the boost of confidence that blesses a congregation when it places faith in a Spirit-led effort.

How do inspired sermons flow out of the pastoral identity of Craig Barnes? When discussing the portfolio of a very busy pastorate, he insisted that he have time for congregational care. He explained that he could not preach to people unless he engaged them personally. In one of his books, Dr. Barnes portrayed the role of preaching pastor as being in the midst of the holy conversation between God’s Word and God’s people. He also once admitted to a friend that, next to his home study, Shadyside’s pulpit was his favorite piece of geography on Earth.

Each of his sermons found an anchor point in the grace of God. A few representative themes demonstrate that grounding:

  • We are not called to be saviors, especially of ourselves. Jesus was dying to be our Savior.
  • Our identity is not defined by our work or even our place in the church. Jesus wants to weave our life stories into His eternal Gospel.
  • We do well to hold God’s gifts in upturned hands to be used for the work of the Kingdom. It is impossible to receive new gifts when we grasp those we already have.
  • The concept of a distinctly individual Christian is a modern construct. For much of history, the Christian life was centered on community.
  • Craig Barnes came to us at Shadyside Church from a seminary. In 2012, the time came for us to release him — to return to a seminary. The lesson of his especially memorable sermon, about the story of David and Jonathan in the Book of Samuel, became very important to us. Life or death can separate us from one we hold dear. But, when the Holy Spirit is in our midst, even in separation, we always get to keep the love.

Now, Craig moves his ministry beyond the institutions of church and academy. Now, we get to reaffirm that love that has bound us in separation. Now, we celebrate that bond by welcoming Craig Barnes back into our community as our Pastor Emeritus.

Elder Timothy C. Engleman

Read the Announcement about Honoring Dr. Barnes as Pastor Emeritus

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.

Organ Repair and Refurbishment

The Reuter Organ in the Chancel of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Sanctuary. (Photograph taken by Len Levasseur.)
The Reuter Organ in the Chancel of the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Sanctuary. (Photograph taken by Len Levasseur.)
In 2020, the Music Ministry of Shadyside Presbyterian Church will begin an important multi-year project that affects the worship life of us all: the repair and refurbishment of our two organs in the sanctuary.

Our chancel organ was installed in 1994 to the specifications of Dr. John Walker, our Minister of Music and Organist at the time. It is a splendid instrument which has served us well this quarter of a century. But other than routine tuning, and the occasional small repair, the organ has been at work on our behalf all this time without what now has become a great need for repairs and refurbishment.

The gallery instrument was installed in 1973 in memory of Dr. Howard Scharfe. It, too, is in need of refurbishing, cleaning, and re-voicing. The pipes of this instrument are crucial in supporting congregational singing in the back half of the sanctuary and gallery. A more detailed document outlining the condition of the organs is available through the church office upon request. In addition, Mark Anderson would be more than happy to speak to you to answer further questions.

At the December 2019 meeting of the Session, our ruling elders approved moving forward in this effort, as well as reaching out to the congregation to invite one and all to share in it.

The work is being undertaken by Charles Kegg Organbuilders, a highly respected firm, in which we have utmost confidence. The work will be accomplished in phases, in order that we will have at least one of the organs working at all times. We will address the chancel organ first, beginning after Easter and continuing throughout the summer and early fall, during which time we will worship utilizing the gallery organ and grand piano in the chancel.

The combined power and beauty of our chancel and gallery organs is like another member of the congregation who raises our spirits, supports our corporate singing, lifts our minds and hearts, and inspires our lives. With their rich resources, our organs help illuminate sacred mysteries, reveal divine grace, and stir our deepest emotions. The unleashing of the full spectrum of an organ’s power can move us to tears, console our grief, and enhance our joy. It has been said that no other form of music acts so powerfully as an instrument of both meditation and celebration, as we listen, and as we sing together.

We know that our congregation and our community have been blessed by these magnificent instruments in many of these ways, and we invite you to share in their preservation for the future. If you are interested in sharing a gift that will help underwrite this project, we would be most grateful! We hope you shall.

Please direct any financial gifts to the church finance office, earmarking your check “Organ Fund,” as this special donation is separate from the annual budget of the church. Designated cards with instructions and envelopes are located in the Narthex and Sharp Atrium for your convenience.

We thank you for prayerfully considering your support of this worthy endeavor.

The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles
Interim Senior Pastor and Head of Staff

Mark A. Anderson
Director of Music Ministry

The Church Mouse Turns 50

Refreshed for the Future and Reflecting on Five Decades of Publication
The New Church Mouse: Upon entering its 50th year of publication, the beloved rodent has been re-envisioned as if captured in stained glass.

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 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?

Pictured: Earlier incarnations of The Church Mouse masthead, including the 25th year of publication in 1994 (top), and the Mouse for the new millennium, introduced in August 1997 (bottom).

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!”

Hear Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr Preach

Archival Recording of a Sermon Preached by Shadyside’s Fifth Pastor

Rev. Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr, fifth pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church from 1913-1945Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr served as fifth pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church from 1913 to 1945.  This recording is a sermon delivered on June 20, 1948, at the Mt. Lebanon Methodist Church by Dr. Kerr, who was then retired.  The transcription was made on twelve 78 RPM lacquer disks, which were carefully preserved by the late Reverend George Fulton and his widow, Mrs. Kathleen Fulton.  Mrs. Fulton recently arranged for Steve Zelenko, the church’s sound engineer, to transfer this audio treasure to a digital copy.  A generous bequest from Rev. Fulton’s estate supported Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s long-time radio ministry, broadcasting Sunday at Shadyside on multiple stations, including KDKA-AM and KQV-AM.  Presently, the Fulton bequest makes possible the church’s streaming webcast available during worship on Sunday mornings at  We are grateful for the faithfulness and stewardship of the Fulton family, and we hope you will enjoy hearing this only-known recording of Dr. Kerr’s voice.

Twentieth Anniversary of the Columbarium

“God of our life, through all the circling years … Our heart’s true home when all our years have sped.” ­— The Reverend Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr
Sheep May Safely Graze: Immediately outside the Columbarium hangs a pastoral scene, painted by the late John Haughwout, which references the image of God as a shepherd caring for His sheep.
Sheep May Safely Graze: Immediately outside the Columbarium hangs a pastoral scene, painted by the late John Haughwout, which references the image of God as a shepherd caring for His sheep.

As we observe All Saints’ Sunday, we remember and give thanks for the lives of our deceased loved ones in light of the Resurrection — the ultimate source of solace and comfort afforded by our faith. Furthermore, we reverently recall those faithful departed whose families have chosen inurnment in the Columbarium at Shadyside Presbyterian Church for their loved ones. This year, All Saints’ Sunday marks the twentieth anniversary of the dedication of Shadyside’s Columbarium.

The Columbarium is a sacred and beautiful space for mortal remains in the peace and permanence of our beloved church home. Located in the Chapel Narthex, it contains over 300 bronze memorial niches available for those who prefer this form of memorialization.

The design of the Columbarium by the late John L. Haughwout, church member and architect, made use of several existing elements — including a screen wall with stained glass panels and a Virgil Cantini bronze bas-relief — in order to achieve a well-integrated final space. Authorized by the Session in 1994, the project was completed three years later, after much careful planning and construction. The Columbarium was then dedicated on All Saints’ Sunday, November 2, 1997.

The peaceful ambiance of this space provides a setting which invites quiet meditation, reflection, and prayer, while offering the comfort of familiar, well-loved church surroundings. Burial within or on church property has been practiced for many centuries, while the practice of cremation has become an increasingly popular option in the past several decades. Both methods of final disposition are supported by the Christian Church. Members interested in considering this memorial option may contact a member of the Columbarium Committee through the church office.

Contributed by Elder Robert G. Mayer Jr.

About World Communion Sunday

This six-foot banner at the denominational offices in Louisville was created to illustrate the Peacemaking Offering for World Communion Sunday on October 5, 1997. This design was originally drawn in oil pastels by Dorothea B. Kennedy and was translated into fabric by Gloiela Yau Dolak. As the mountains and hills rejoice, the thirsty of all nations are invited to come to the water; the hungry are invited to come to the table. Everyone is welcome.

The first Sunday in October is designated as World Communion Sunday, which celebrates our oneness in Christ with all our brothers and sisters around the world.

Paul tells us that we are to “discern the body” when we partake of Holy Communion, mindful that we note our relationship to all our brothers and sisters in Christ in the celebration (1 Corinthians 11:29).

World Communion Sunday (originally called World Wide Communion Sunday) is a gift of the Presbyterian Church to the larger ecumenical Church. The first celebration occurred here at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in 1933, when the Reverend Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr served as pastor.

John A. Dalles, a Pittsburgh native, a friend of Shadyside, and a PC(USA) pastor who has researched the history of World Communion Sunday, reported in the October 7, 2002, issue of Presbyterian Outlook:

“Davitt S. Bell (the late Clerk of Session and church historian at Shadyside) recalled that Dr. Kerr first conceived the notion of World Communion Sunday during his year as moderator of the General Assembly (1930). Dr. Kerr’s younger son, the Rev. Dr. Donald Craig Kerr, who is pastor emeritus of the Roland Park Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, was sixteen in 1933. He has related that World Communion Sunday grew out of the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. It was their attempt to bring churches together in a service of Christian unity—in which everyone might receive both inspiration and information, and above all, to know how important the Church of Jesus Christ is, and how each congregation is interconnected one with another.”

Celebration of World Wide Communion Sunday was adopted as a denominational practice in the Presbyterian Church (US) in 1936. Churches in other denominations were invited to celebrate with us from the beginning, but it was not until 1940, when the Department of Evangelism of the Federal Council of Churches (a predecessor body of the National Council of Churches) promoted extending the celebration to a number of churches around the world, that the practice became widespread. Today, World Communion Sunday is celebrated around the world, transcending boundaries of denomination, geography, and language.

Text partially adapted from resources available at

About the Artwork: This six-foot banner at the denominational offices in Louisville was created to illustrate the Peacemaking Offering for World Communion Sunday on October 5, 1997. This design was originally drawn in oil pastels by Dorothea B. Kennedy and was translated into fabric by Gloiela Yau Dolak. As the mountains and hills rejoice, the thirsty of all nations are invited to come to the water; the hungry are invited to come to the table. Everyone is welcome.