Refugee Assistance Update

In Partnership with Jewish Family and Community Services

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. — Leviticus 19:34

The Refugee Resettlement Team is pleased to provide the congregations of Temple Sinai and Shadyside Presbyterian Church with an update on our efforts since our family’s arrival.

Our congregations partnered with Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) in the summer to train and prepare ourselves for supporting a refugee family. By September, our team welcomed a family of four from the Democratic Republic of the Congo by way of a refugee camp in Rwanda. Upon their arrival at Pittsburgh Airport, Susan Balaan and the Welcome Committee brought the family to their new home to share a warm meal after a multi-day journey to America. Our Housing Committee, led by Connie Coffelt, furnished a lovely apartment within the East End of Pittsburgh. Lizzy Kline led our Cultural Orientation Committee to coordinate grocery shopping multiple times a week. Melissa Rychener ensured the Educational Committee confirmed school enrollments, English as second language courses, and tutorials on how to ride the bus. Finally, Emma Balaan and the Medical Committee coordinated medical appointments, vaccinations, and health education when needed.

Several volunteers provided cultural orientation, employment coaching, and other odds and ends for life in the United States. Besides those highlighted above, others who have supported this family include Drew and Jan Barkley, Tanya Bass, Karla Byrd, Owen Clinger, Laura Duncan, Barbara and Daniel Ernsberger, Adona Iosif, Carol James, Adam Loucks, Ann Pauley, Vanessa Rychener, Virginia Thornburgh, and Victoria Wellstead Murphy.

The refugee family we have served since September is moving to Massachusetts to take advantage of an opportunity to be closer to loved ones. We are proud to have witnessed this family’s growing understanding of our culture, their English language skills, and their confidence to be fully realized citizens of this country. We are sad that we will not continue to be their partner, but we are grateful to have been part of their journey.

Our Refugee Resettlement Team is now preparing for another family to arrive in Pittsburgh in early December. This is a young couple with a baby girl under six months old, with unique needs which are different from our prior family. Given our renewed startup costs to build the relationship with this family, please consider contributing to a special collection during this holiday season using the instructions below. If you have clothes for children between six and eighteen months, including sweaters and hats, and other items appropriate for children under one year old, such as disposable diapers and baby wipes, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office.

If you are interested in directly serving a stranger and their family, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office. Individuals able to drive or ride the bus during a weekday, or able to accompany our family for medical appointments, are especially needed.

With appreciation for your continued prayers and support,

Elder Laura C. Duncan

Contribute a Financial Gift

If you would like to make a financial contribution, please do so before noon on Thursday, December 29, by one of the following options:

  • Visit our online giving portal at, click the “Give Now” button, then select “Spec. Mission Programs” in the drop-down menu and “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line.
  • Place your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, with “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line) or cash donation in an envelope designated for “Refugee Assistance” and place it in the offering plate.
  • Mail your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, with “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line) directly to the church office marked to the attention of the Finance Office.

Mission Survey Results

Elder Laura C. Duncan

The Uniting with Neighbors workgroup and I extend a hearty thank you to all who influenced the development, release, and engagement of our mission survey and skills inventory. We are so grateful to the church lay leadership for sharing their support in conversation and other venues to encourage responses, and to Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith and Rev. Austin Crenshaw Shelley for their approval to fund and release the survey through Shadyside channels. We must highlight a deep gratitude for the Shadyside congregants who took time to have their voices heard on the mission survey, and especially those who raised their hands like Isaiah in God’s throne room to say, “Lord, send me,” by sharing their names and the skills they wish to lend to mission.

I must also thank the committee for their stalwart efforts to source, release, craft, and deploy the survey. During each Thursday meeting we held throughout the winter season, we largely discussed the survey and inventory, and those efforts are bearing fruit.

A total of 105 respondents participated, with 68 sharing their skills for our mission partners.

The survey responses revealed respondents’ passion for mission locally and abroad. A ministry of caring (16 of 60 free text responses included “caring” or similar words) and our international efforts (noted by 10 of 60 responses) are most-mentioned assets we should continue to develop.

Respondents indicated that areas needing more emphasis include a mechanism for individuals to discover their own gifts to support missions; participating in programs or services with other religious groups; and lastly, how to understand the use of money, time, and talents as expressions of Christian stewardship.

The respondents overwhelmingly echoed how personal involvement is meaningful, drawing them into vibrant relationship with our community (locally and globally), and, 79% said social justice is at the heart of the gospel. Knowing those most passionate about Shadyside Presbyterian Church feel this way about missions is emboldening and will continue to propel us to seek God’s Kingdom in this very broken world.

Elder Laura C. Duncan, Chair, Missions Committee of Session

Partner Spotlight: Sojourner House

The annual Shadyside Presbyterian Church Strawberry Festival supports Sojourner House.
Sojourner House and Sojourner House MOMS

Sojourner House provides in-patient residential treatment to addicted mothers and their children. Mothers can bring three children with them and stay up to six months while receiving intensive treatment for their addiction. Sojourner House is proud to be the only program in Allegheny County that provides each family with their own apartment while the mother receives treatment. Mothers and children can begin to experience the joys and challenges of living as an independent, drug-free family while securely surrounded by round-the-clock support.

The MOMS (Motivation, Opportunities, Mentoring, and Spirituality) Program builds on Sojourner House’s experience in providing a holistic mind-body-spirit approach to treating addiction. MOMS provides permanent, supportive housing for homeless, single, dual-diagnosed women in recovery, as well as for their dependent children.

The staff at Sojourner House believe that women who are in recovery are best able to shatter the bonds of addiction when they are surrounded by what matters most to them: their children. Sojourner House additionally partners with other local community groups because they also believe in the importance of community in providing hope and meaning to women who are working on sobriety and financial independence. At every step of the way, they meet women and families with love and with the understanding that, while no one is perfect, if you deal with the trauma in your life, you can learn to cope and find healing.

Shadyside Presbyterian Church has helped to transform vacant property into a play yard for the children of Sojourner House MOMS. The church has hosted the mothers and their children at the annual Strawberry Festival, and also has held retreats for the mothers while providing craft projects for their children. In addition, the women of Sojourner House and MOMS are recipients of SPC’s “Giving Tree” program in December.

One way you can support Sojourner House is to attend the Strawberry Festival on Friday, June 3, 2022. Every dollar spent at the event will go directly to Sojourner House to support its ability to provide compassionate, faith-based recovery services to women and their families.

If you would like to help beyond attending the Strawberry Festival, Sojourner House is always in need of items for residents, such as toothbrushes, diapers, baby wipes, soap, hand sanitizer, face masks, craft supplies for children, and housewarming baskets with linens.

For more information, visit the Sojourner House website at

Watch the Minute for Mission

New Mission Structure

Befriending, Knowing, Uniting with Neighbors

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

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

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

Befriending Neighbors (one-time opportunities)

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

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

Knowing Neighbors (longer term opportunities)

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

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

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

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

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

A Request to Hear from You

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

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

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

Pittsburgh Marathon 2022

Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1, 2022

Ten members and friends of Shadyside Presbyterian Church are preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 1. The entire church is invited to “run” alongside them in a number of exciting ways:

Show Your Support

This year, we are again honored to be running with our local mission partner, Open Hand Ministries (OHM). Shadyside runners are running with a purpose to support OHM’s urban-renewal work in the Garfield and East Liberty communities. To support our runners financially, visit their fundraising pages:

Please also keep the runners in your prayers.

Slice Oranges and Make Signs

Volunteers are needed the day before the race, Saturday, April 30, at 1:00 p.m. to slice oranges in the church kitchen and make signs to encourage runners. Oranges will be given to runners during the race as they ascend Fifth Avenue, one of the most challenging portions of the 26.2-mile course. To help, please contact Kaysie Strickland in the church office.

Be a Fan

Shadyside’s cheer station will once again be located near the church at the corner of Amberson and Fifth Avenues. Not only will we pass out orange slices and fruit chews, we will be the words of encouragement as the athletes run their race with perseverance and strength. Rain or shine, be prepared to cheer with enthusiasm from 7:30 to 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 1. To help, please contact Kaysie Strickland in the church office.


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

Partner Spotlight: Orphan Care in Malawi

Care Center for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Soche, Malawi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the Minute for Mission

Refugee Crisis Response

In Partnership with Jewish Family and Community Services

“… For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, and I was a stranger and you welcomed Me … . Truly I say to you as you did it for one of the least of these, you did it for Me.” — Matthew 25:35, 40

Shadyside Presbyterian Church urgently requests that our church family uplift our mission partner Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) in their efforts to alleviate the refugee crisis. Resettlement efforts already strained by the upheaval in Afghanistan are now compounded by the war in Ukraine. Families are coming weekly to the Pittsburgh region and have considerable needs; we know our members and friends have been blessed with both the resources and the will to help.

Please consider contributing to our special collection this month and joining a team of SPC congregants who will serve imminently arriving families. We will partner with JFCS, whose long history of service includes serving immigrant and refugee families in our region.

Join the Ministry Team

If you are interested in directly serving a stranger and their family, please contact Elder Laura Duncan through the church office by Monday, March 21. Activities include shuttling families to and from the airport; securing and furnishing housing; and helping families integrate into life in America through learning English and navigating school systems and healthcare. These efforts can be embraced by young and old within our families, through small investments of time or longer commitments if desired.

Contribute a Financial Gift

If you would like to make a financial contribution, please do so before Thursday, March 31, by one of the following options:

  • Visit our online giving portal at, click the “Give Now” button, then select “Spec. Mission Programs” in the drop-down menu and “Refugee Assistance” in the memo line.
  • Place your check (payable to Shadyside Presbyterian Church, with “Refugee Crisis” in the memo line) or cash donation in an envelope designated for JFCS and place it in the offering plate. Designated envelopes are available in the Narthex and Sharp Atrium.
  • Mail your check directly to the church office marked to the attention of the Finance Office.

Finally, we ask that you pray for our newest neighbors and keep the work of the ministry team and our mission partners in mind as we spread the love of Christ through our community and beyond.

Partner Spotlight: EECM

East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM)East End Cooperative Ministry

Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s Mission and Urban Ministry partners with East End Cooperative Ministry in support of its work in the Pittsburgh community.

East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM) works to change the lives of individuals and families in Pittsburgh facing the impact of poverty. Founded in 1970 by the local interfaith groups, EECM continues to grow through direct hands-on services to the hungry, homeless, elderly, and disadvantaged urban youth. EECM’s three main areas of ministry are Community Food Service, Housing/Employment Services, and Children/Youth Services.

  • Community Food Service is the most widely recognized part of EECM; Shadyside Presbyterian Church has been a long-term partner assisting to serve meals and running quarterly food drives.
  • Housing/Employment Services include:
    • An emergency homeless shelter with twenty-one beds also provides social service navigation assistance, such as connecting consumers to permanent housing, and health and social benefits.
    • A ninety-day substance use recovery program offers housing and treatment for thirty individuals referred by a treatment facility or the justice system.
    • Families Achieving Independence through Housing (FAITH) helps families impacted by physical or mental disability find affordable housing.
    • SewForward, an apprenticeship sewing program, trains individuals for a career in commercial sewing.
  • Children/Youth Services include summer camps, educational opportunities within media and the creative arts, and recreational sports for youth in their catchment area.

EECM is celebrating fifty years in providing services; learn more from our Minute for Mission during worship in February and join the festivities at EECM’s Golden Gala on May 21, 2022, at Rodef Shalom in Shadyside. Please contact the church office for details.

During the month of February, Shadyside Presbyterian Church coordinates a food collection and fundraising effort that supports EECM in conjunction with the Souper Bowl of Caring. Please read more in order to participate.

Partner Spotlight: Veterans Place

Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard

Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s Mission and Urban Ministry partners with Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard in support of its mission to:

  • end the cycle of veteran homelessness, and
  • honor the dignity and humanity of at-risk veterans.

Allegheny County has the largest veteran population in Pennsylvania, which has the fourth largest veteran population in the nation. Veterans Place draws from the 150,000 veterans in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area to provide transitional housing, address health issues, and provide employment training. Veterans Place is dedicated to serving post-9/11 veterans to support and assist in obtaining competitive employment.

Veterans Place operates the largest transitional housing program for veterans in the region. Participants receive financial training, recovery support, and case management. The Veterans Resource Center is one of only fifteen of its kind in the country and the only drop-in service center for veterans in the Western Pennsylvania region. The Veterans Resource Center services veterans facing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, providing them with essential resources such as transportation, food, clothing, laundry facilities, shower facilities, financial assistance, and individualized case management. Veterans Place offers a program specific to female veterans. Through the Female Veteran Program, veterans are assisted with navigating their unique and challenging barriers. Veterans Place offers financial assistance to female veterans in need facing homelessness due to domestic violence, mental/physical health barriers, or financial strain.

Two great successes in 2020 during COVID:

  • 80% of veterans served through the Transitional Housing Program moved into permanent housing and had a sustainable income at the time of discharge from the program.
  • 96% of participants achieved sustainable employment through Veterans Place Employment Services.

Veterans Place is collaborating with the City of Pittsburgh to expand and improve its campus, developing adjacent lands for the enhancement of its programming. Currently, Veterans Place is seeking a Director of Development.

If Veterans Place fits your philanthropic priorities, please reach out to Elder Laura Duncan, Chair of Mission and Urban Ministry, through the church office.

During the month of November, Shadyside Presbyterian Church coordinates a warmth drive for Veterans Place of Washington Boulevard. Please read more in order to participate.

Strawberry Festival Takeout Treats

Desserts that Do Good

Shadyside Presbyterian Church invites you to treat yourself to some sweet homemade desserts while supporting our neighbors! Though we cannot host our traditional Strawberry Festival again this year due to health and safety restrictions, the Board of Deacons remains committed to sponsoring a community event that remembers the needs of our mission partners.

The Board of Deacons will prepare strawberry-themed dessert takeout boxes for $12 each. Each dessert box includes a strawberry tartlet, a strawberry cupcake, and chocolate-covered strawberries — all made by our deacons. All proceeds will benefit our mission partner Sojourner House.

Treat boxes must be pre-ordered using the button below. Simply click the button, complete the form, and then follow the instructions for one of the two payment options. All pre-orders must be received by Thursday, May 27. Pick-up will be available in the church’s circular driveway on Friday, June 4, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Unfortunately, we will be unable to accommodate walk-up purchases at the event on Friday.

Place an Order

After worship on Sunday, June 6, additional boxes may be available for walk-up purchase by cash. No pre-orders are required to purchase a treat box on Sunday; boxes will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sojourner House and the Sojourner House MOMS program offer compassionate recovery services for mothers and their children. Learn more at