Mission Update: Mars Hill Experience 2019

Watch a Video of the 2019 Mars Hill Mission Experience

In Partnership with the Community Housing Coalition of Madison County

Thank you for your prayers as forty-one members of Shadyside Presbyterian Church traveled to North Carolina to participate in the mission experience in Mars Hill from July 7 through 13, 2019. To see a glimpse into the week-long experience of our mission team members as they assisted families with housing needs, built relationships with homeowners and with each other, and served Christ through their actions, please click on the image or follow this link.

The Mars Hill Mission Experience is an annual one-week intergenerational mission trip to the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina. In partnership with the Community Housing Coalition of Madison County, individuals and families from Shadyside Presbyterian and other churches join together to work on the homes of disadvantaged homeowners.

Learn more about the mission partnerships of Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

Rev. Michael Stanton to Preach Jan. 20

Rev. Michael Stanton, Co-founder and Executive Director, Open Hand Ministries
Rev. Michael Stanton
Welcoming Rev. Michael Stanton

On Sunday, January 20, the Reverend Michael Stanton will lead our Christian Education hour in the Parish Hall at 9:45 a.m. and will preach during the service of worship in the Sanctuary at 11:00 a.m.

Rev. Stanton was ordained by the PC(USA) to the position of Executive Director of Open Hand Ministries, Inc., one of our mission partners in Garfield and East Liberty which is committed to promoting justice and equality through homeownership. In 2007, Rev. Stanton co-founded the ministry with a number of like-hearted individuals and organizations from the neighborhood.

Michael earned his Master of Divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2006. He is happily married and living in Garfield with four beautiful children and “too many pets.”

Please join us in welcoming Rev. Stanton to Shadyside’s pulpit.

Rev. Jean-Luc Krieg to Preach Oct. 14

Rev. Jean-Luc Krieg, Founder and Executive Director of Urban Mosaic in Mexico City
Rev. Jean-Luc Krieg
Welcoming Rev. Krieg on His Return to Shadyside

On Sunday, October 14, the Reverend Jean-Luc Krieg will preach during the service of worship at 11:00 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Later, he will speak during dinner in the Parish Hall at 6:00 p.m. on the topic, “Why Cities? From Fear-based Interventions to Sustainable Solutions.” Please join us in welcoming him as he returns to visit Shadyside.

About Rev. Krieg

The Reverend Jean-Luc Krieg, born and raised in Ivory Coast, West Africa, and of Swiss-German descent, is founder and executive director of Urban Mosaic. Previously, he was field coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean with Geneva Global, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based philanthropic investment firm. In that position, Jean-Luc supervised a research team and served as a consultant to dozens of non-profit organizations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia, in the design of development and entrepreneurial strategies that produced significant economic, social, spiritual, and environmental returns.

An ordained minister, Jean-Luc holds both a Master of Business Administration degree in international economic development and a Master of Divinity degree from Philadelphia-based Eastern University and Palmer Seminary. Since April 1991, Jean-Luc has long nurtured an interest in working among Mexico City’s urban poor. Twice he lived in Mexico—in 1993 and 1995/96—before finally returning to Mexico in 2005 to pursue his vision of founding Urban Mosaic. Rev. Krieg has traveled to close to fifty countries and enjoys bridging worlds.

A Child-Friendly Mission Experience

Kids on a mission trip? Really?

Well, yes, indeed, when it’s the Mars Hill Mission Experience, which welcomes family participation. Many of you may be wondering what a mission trip as a family would look like. I found these pictures from eight years ago, and the memories came back like a flood!

I remember working at this client’s mobile home putting down a laminate floor, as her wheelchair had been knocked off balance too many times due to uneven carpeting. Our team was comprised of all women, from three different churches, to install her new floor. Our client, Marjorie, voiced her disappointment at the all-female team, because she enjoyed Todd’s good looks on past trips, and really wanted to see him again! All week she kept saying, “Why don’t you get Todd over here to double check that?” Oh, did we have fun laughing with her! This client remains one of our treasured relationships from fifteen years in Mars Hill, and we visit her every year.

The exterior of Marjorie’s mobile home was drab, and she loved flowers. We pooled some funds, and visited the local nursery. We purchased some mulch and flowers and suggested the children come and weed the area, then plant and mulch. As you can see, the joy the children bring to a work site is contagious — and a bit messy when they decide to “swim” in the mulch!

Our daughter Nadia (now 11) has been to Mars Hill every year, beginning at the age of 14 months! Dhini, who joined our family when she was 3, also has enjoyed eight years of this amazing trip. I can say it is one of their favorite weeks for many reasons. Witnessing the teamwork among many churches reinforces what they learn about God’s kingdom. They see us rise early, break bread together (albeit college cafeteria style), leave to serve others, and return dirty and tired. They hear about all of the work sites each evening, impending challenges, sketching out solutions, and purchasing supplies. They sit with us in worship every night, witnessing that church can happen in a college dormitory. They gather with children of all ages and learn from volunteers, and Christian Education directors from many churches. They rejoice in seeing completed projects, and they learn to trust that next week’s volunteers will continue unfinished projects. They see God’s children, who live in a place that looks so different than Pittsburgh and many other places they have seen. They see us nominate each other, including the youth, for silly awards and for working extra hard. They see us solve problems, and walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. They prepare snacks, and sidewalk art for our return, and catch a glimpse of what a college looks like! They grow to know our youth, so when they reach middle school, these big kids are not strangers. They have friends in a new town to whom they can send Christmas cards and letters. Our upper elementary school children learn to teach and care for the youngest among them, holding the hands of toddlers and calming infants.

They witness us all being the hands and feet of Jesus!

Contributed by Linda G. Leach

Are you interested in learning more about our annual Mars Hill Mission Experience? An informational meeting occurs on Sunday, April 29, at 12:30 p.m. in the Hulme Room. If you are unable to attend, please contact the Reverend Todd E. Leach, Associate Pastor for Missions.

Guest Speaker on February 4

Reverend Dr. Andrea Zaki
Reverend Dr. Andrea Zaki
Welcoming the Reverend Dr. Andrea Zaki

Shadyside Presbyterian Church welcomes the Reverend Dr. Andrea Zaki, President of the Protestant Churches in Egypt and Director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), as our guest preacher during worship on Sunday, February 4, at 11:00 a.m. Prior to the service, Dr. Zaki will participate in a question/answer session in the Chapel beginning at 9:45 a.m. Please join us in welcoming him to Shadyside.

View a video highlighting Dr. Zaki’s ministry with CEOSS as a Langham Scholar, and read more about him and his work below.

About Dr. Zaki

The Reverend Dr. Andrea Zaki is the President of the Protestant Churches of Egypt and General Director of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS). He also serves as the President of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches and is a lecturer at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Zaki’s educational background includes a Ph.D. in religions and politics from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom (2003); and a Master of Arts in theological studies from Eastern University in West Chester, Pennsylvania (1994). He also earned a diploma in social development from Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia (1988); and a Bachelor of Theology from Cairo Evangelical Seminary (1983).


Hands Along the Nile Development Services (HANDS) forges lasting partnerships between Americans and Egyptians in order to increase intercultural understanding and support Egyptians in their efforts to raise the quality of life for the most under-served members of their society. To these ends, HANDS facilitates cultural exchange programs and partners with organizations on the ground to empower disadvantaged Egyptians to raise themselves out of poverty.

HANDS was founded in 1989, by the Reverend Dr. Samuel Habib and some American friends with the primary purpose of supporting development work in Egypt. HANDS’ roots are in the Presbyterian communities of Egypt and the United States, which maintain a long history of partnership in raising the quality of life for Egyptians of all ages, genders, and religions.

One of HANDS’ major partnerships in Egypt is with the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS). This organization, which started as organized literacy classes, now reaches over two million people in 150 communities each year through its comprehensive village development programs and interfaith dialogue efforts. HANDS also has begun partnerships with almost thirty other organizations in Egypt, including clinics, an orphanage, and a job skills training center for women.

Responding to Hurricane Harvey

Last fall, the Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC) approved a disaster response plan submitted by our Mission and Urban Ministry (MUM) Team. The MUM Team has committed to set aside annual funds specifically for disaster response, and, in addition, provide SPC members with the opportunity to give to a disaster assistance organization. If you would like to make a contribution to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), please place your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church) or cash donation in the pew envelope designated for PDA, and place the envelope in the offering plate during worship. Contributions also may be mailed to the church office.

Let us remember in prayer those who have lost family, friends, or property as a result of this natural disaster. The Reverend Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus of PDA has extended this invitation to prayer: “Please join us in praying for courage for those who are suffering; wisdom and diligence among agencies and individuals assessing damage and directing relief efforts; and for generosity to flow as powerfully as rivers and streams, as we respond to the deep human needs left in the wake of the storm.”

Learn more about PDA’s relief efforts in response to Harvey here.

Read a prayer for those in the midst of Harvey here.

Mission Update: Mexico, March 16

Mission Experience in Partnership with ConeXión Mosaico

March 11–18, 2017

Today we visited the communities where ConeXión Mosaico has focused its ministries: Chimalhuacán, Las Palmas, and San Sebastián. It was so encouraging to see the immense progress in all of these places in just two years since we last visited. A previously rundown field in Chimalhuacán where crime was rampant is now a beautiful sports and recreation indoor/outdoor facility for the community. In Las Palmas, the water lines and water tank that were just being built and installed two years ago are now complete. The plans we saw before for a community center have begun construction. And youth in San Sebastián are asking and working for a library to be built in their neighborhood.

But the most significant moment for our team came when we visited the location of the project we worked on two years ago. At that time, community members wanted to clear a ravine of trash so that children could play in the grassy knoll and trees. It was – like this year – tedious and hard work, but the product was beautiful and deeply appreciated by the neighbors, who all joined in with the cleaning efforts. We learned that, after that, other areas of the neighborhood also decided to clean up their sections of the ravine to transform those areas into park spaces as well! However, soon thereafter, other neighbors rallied around, using these ravines as construction dumps, for which the neighborhood would get paid and could then sell the land to others for housing. When those who wanted to clear the space argued their position, they received threats against their safety and families. Consequently, the space we cleared two years ago has once again become a dumping ground for trash and construction fill. Seeing it and hearing these stories was both sad and good — sad because the efforts begun by the community and with which we aided are no longer happening. But it was a good reminder of two important things:

  1. Our work was not in vain. Others in the community saw the positive effect of their neighbors and emulated them, at least for a time; and
  2. This is why partnership with ministries like ConeXión Mosaico – who are present in these communities day after day – is so incredibly vital. Transformation cannot come through one-week efforts of visitors coming in and assuming they can fix the problems of poverty. As the Church, we need to work in mission partnership with our brothers and sisters who are on the ground, in the field, and in it for the long haul.

Today we are ever more grateful for the work ConeXión Mosaico is doing, and for our opportunity to partner with them in this important work.

Contributed by Rebecca Reeder

Mission Update: Mexico, March 14 and 15

Mission Experience in Partnership with ConeXión Mosaico

March 11–18, 2017

Work continued at CentroRenovar, where, in a nutshell, we did a hefty amount of moving heavy things from one place to another.  Among the things we moved: cement (up a forty-foot increase in elevation) to secure posts for a fence around the property, large bricks to be used in future walls (and moved to make room for the large machinery to dig out ground for a septic tank), dirt to make level ground for a future floor, etc. Some may view this grueling labor as tedious, hard, and pointless, but we see our work as creating space and added time for the skilled Mexican workers onsite to focus their energies on the tasks which we wouldn’t be able to do and by which they would be greatly slowed if they also had to complete the tasks we are doing.

However, in the midst of our work we began asking each other questions – some funny, some thoughtful, some personal. It has been a fun way of passing the time and growing in friendship with one another. Ironically (or divinely!), Jean-Luc Krieg (founder and executive director of ConeXión Mosaico) has chosen to use his devotional time with us to ponder some poignant questions that Scripture raises. The past two days we’ve focused on two questions in particular. First, the question of Genesis: “Where are you?”, which God asks of Adam and Eve after they have been tempted. It is not a question of anger, but of concern God has for his image-bearers. Where are you in relation to who God created you to be? Where are you in relation to the purpose for which God created you?

Secondly, we have looked at a question arising from God calling Abraham to go to Canaan. Abraham initially stops midway in Haran, and settles there for a time until God calls him again. It makes one wonder: What is your Haran? Where or how have you settled for “good enough” midway to where God is leading you? This week has become a time not only of working and catching up on the ministry of ConeXión Mosaico, but also of pondering – pondering our life stories, our dreams, our identities, our callings, our memories, and how God continues to speak to us through Scripture.

Contributed by Rebecca Reeder

Mission Update: Mexico, March 13

Mission Experience in Partnership with ConeXión Mosaico

March 11–18, 2017

Not much of an update today. It was our first day on the work site, and it was great to see the progress that has been made since we visited the site two years ago, when ground had yet to be broken. Jean-Luc Krieg (founder and executive director of ConeXión Mosaico) gave us a refresher on the purpose of CentroRenovar and explained the plans as we toured the property. With impending rain, we turned in early for the day after successfully leveling two huge piles of dirt to prepare for a future floor, and installing numerous poles for the construction of a fence around the property. We all are exhausted and headed to bed early tonight, aiming to pace ourselves better tomorrow. But, overall, it was a very productive and fulfilling day.

Contributed by Rebecca Reeder

Mission Update: Mexico, March 12

Mission Experience in Partnership with ConeXión Mosaico

March 11–18, 2017

Today was our tourist day. Since all five of us have been here before and have seen the Teotihuacán pyramids, Jean-Luc Krieg (founder and executive director of ConeXión Mosaico) arranged for us to visit the city center. It also just so happened to be the weekend of a huge car show and music festival, so it was definitely crowded, but exciting! We toured the National Palace and museum, and learned a lot more about the history of Mexico and its constitution and government. But even just driving and walking around the crowded metropolitan area gave us a new picture of the stark dichotomy between the wealth of the city center and the extreme poverty of the nearby slums in which ConeXión Mosaico has located its ministry. After having started our morning with an update on the ministry’s progress (which is truly amazing!) and the continuing need for transformation, our tourism was a further reminder of and a very visual encounter with the issues caused by urbanization.

We ended our day in worship with one of the house churches that is now fully self-sustaining in Chimalhuacán — an experience that renewed once again our hope in the power of Christ, who is bringing about true transformation in and through His people! Until tomorrow, buenas noches!

Contributed by Rebecca Reeder