Remembering Loved Ones: All Saints’ Sunday

All Saints’ Sunday: November 3

Christians throughout the world celebrate All Saints’ Day in honor of all the saints, both known and unknown. In most Protestant churches, it is celebrated on the first Sunday of November. Protestants regard all Christians, both past and present, as saints. As we solemnly remember all those who have died in the past year, we also focus on Christ’s victory over death. While the festival acknowledges the reality of death, we emphasize our hope in the Resurrection and our place in the “communion of saints.”

  • During the All Saints’ Sunday morning service at 11:00 a.m., we will remember those members of Shadyside Presbyterian Church who have been received into the Church Triumphant during the past calendar year.
  • On the afternoon of All Saints’ Sunday, at 3:00 p.m., the Chancel Choir will sing Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem. We invite the congregation to submit the names of any deceased family members whom they would like to have acknowledged in the afternoon bulletin. Please submit the names to Kaysie Strickland in the church office before Friday, October 25.

Additional Resources:

  • Shadyside Presbyterian Church offers a Grief Support Group designed to provide encouragement and a faith-centered perspective for those who have lost a loved one. Two meetings will occur within the next month, including one which will focus on surviving the holidays.
    -Monday, October 21, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.  (Details)
    -Monday, November 18, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.  (Details)
  • Please remember that Shadyside Presbyterian Church has four pastors who are available to talk and pray with you. Although each of them focuses upon certain aspects of ministry, they all are, first and foremost, pastors. They all are ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament, and all of them desire to walk with you as you seek God’s strength and wisdom through both joys and challenges of life, including your seasons of grief. If you would like to speak with one of the pastors, please do not hesitate to call the church office.

“Blessed are they who die in the Lord,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”

Revelation 14:13

Dr. Tucker Ferda to Speak Sept. 18

Dr. Tucker S. Ferda
Dr. Tucker S. Ferda
Welcoming Dr. Tucker S. Ferda

On Wednesday, September 18, Dr. Tucker S. Ferda will speak during the Connections Dinner in the Parish Hall at 6:00 p.m. and will preach during the vespers service in the Chapel at 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Tucker S. Ferda began his position as visiting assistant professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS) in 2017 after serving as a lecturer since 2013. He earned his Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Pittsburgh, where he also served as teaching fellow. In 2015, he was named one of only three Society of Biblical Literature Regional Scholars, an award which “recognizes and promotes outstanding entry-level scholars.” Dr. Ferda has expertise in a wide range of areas in biblical studies, including the Gospels, the life of Jesus, the Old Testament in the New, the history of biblical interpretation, Hellenistic Jewish literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and biblical theology.

Explaining why Dr. Ferda is so appreciated as a professor, one of his recent students shared, “His profound knowledge of the subject matter makes his classes always informative, but, even more importantly, his deep faith and humility connect the subjects to our lives today in a powerful way.” His pupil continued, “Students often say that Tucker is one of the most pastoral people on campus, despite the fact he isn’t an ordained minister. His love and care for the students and seminary community is always deeply apparent.”

A member and deacon at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Tucker frequently leads studies and preaches at churches in the Pittsburgh area.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Ferda to Shadyside, and read more about Dr. Ferda on the PTS website. Also, consider joining us for a weekend of spiritual growth and fellowship during a fall retreat led by Dr. Ferda from October 25 through 26, 2019, at Crestfield Camp and Conference Center. Learn more about the retreat.

Introducing New Children’s Choir Program

The Choir School at Shadyside Presbyterian Church

“Psallam Spiritu et Mente” • “I Will Sing with the Spirit and with the Understanding Also”

The Shadyside Presbyterian Church children’s choir program has a new name and some exciting additions and changes. Beginning this fall, the Shadyside Presbyterian Choir School welcomes choristers as young as kindergarten age with a new curriculum, including in-depth music learning and Christian understanding.

Children begin in the training choir and progress through the Voice for Life program from the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM). Within this program, choristers are able to gain different colored ribbons and medals by working toward various assessed levels of music theory, vocal technique, and Christian understanding. You may notice choristers wearing these medals during worship. Please help us congratulate them for their accomplishments when you see them!

Shadysiders attend the Royal School of Church Music summer training course at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral and King’s College of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Shadysiders attend the Royal School of Church Music summer training course at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral and King’s College of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Once children enter third grade and have completed their initial training choir program, they can become an official “chorister” and participate fully in our Sunday worship services alongside our Chancel Choir. Now that a weekly Thursday night rehearsal has been added for the choristers, you can expect to see them leading music in worship more frequently.

Choristers will be invited to enjoy a week of music-making and fun next summer at the annual RSCM choir course held in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. This past summer, chorister Dhini Leach had the opportunity to attend the course along with children’s music director Stephen Donnelly and Reverend Kendra L. Buckwalter Smith. For choristers, the week consists of activities like swimming, movies, games, variety shows, and, of course, rehearsal. Dhini gives it an enthusiastic “two thumbs up!”

There is no fee or tuition, and enrollment is open to anyone regardless of religious affiliation. For more information about the Choir School and enrolling, please contact Mr. Stephen Donnelly.

Welcoming Rev. Kendra Buckwalter Smith to Staff

Rev. Kendra L. Buckwalter Smith
Rev. Kendra L. Buckwalter Smith
Rev. Smith Joins Staff as Temporary Associate Pastor

Following Rev. John Magnuson’s departure in July 2019, the Human Resources (HR) Committee of the Session has been working diligently to discern how to proceed and to address immediate staffing needs. Our Youth Ministry responsibilities were identified as an early priority, and the HR Committee is especially excited to announce that the Reverend Kendra L. Buckwalter Smith has joined the church staff as Temporary Associate Pastor.

Our enthusiasm, of course, stems from the fact that Rev. Smith is no stranger to Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC). A ministerial daughter of our church family, she has attended worship and actively engaged in the life of this congregation since 2004, during her time as an undergraduate student. In 2017, Rev. Smith completed the ordination process with the Presbyterian Church (USA) under the care of the Session of SPC and was ordained in our Sanctuary. Throughout the year, she regularly supports our music in worship on Sunday mornings by singing with the Chancel Choir.

In assuming this new role, Rev. Smith expands her worship leadership to include non-musical elements of liturgy as she joins our clergy in the Chancel on a regular basis. In addition, parishioners will enjoy the opportunity to hear her preach more often as she enters the rotation of ministers who deliver the homily during our midweek vespers services.

Her primary responsibilities, though, include oversight of the Sunday morning Christian Education classes and curriculum for our students in grades six through twelve, as well as the afternoon Shadyside Presbyterian Youth Sundays (SPYS) program for youth in the same age ranges. This facet of her work has already begun unofficially. This summer, Kendra began building relationships with our youth as they worked alongside each other in North Carolina while participating in the Mars Hill mission experience. She also attended a summer choral training course with our children’s music director Stephen Donnelly and chorister Dhini Leach in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

The part-time nature of this position means that Rev. Smith will continue serving full-time as the Director of the Worship Program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, strengthening our longtime partnership with the seminary. We give thanks to God that Rev. Smith has agreed to add the spiritual care of our youth and their families to the many ways in which she already shares her gifts in our community of faith. Please join us in welcoming Rev. Smith to our church staff!

Shadyside Introduces New “Digital Mosaic”

Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s “Digital Mosaic,” illustrated Mark Bender. All rights reserved by Shadyside Presbyterian Church.
Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s “Digital Mosaic,” illustrated by Mark Bender. All rights reserved by Shadyside Presbyterian Church.
Artist Mark Bender Creates New Church Illustration

On April 4, 2018, the Communications Committee of Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC) met with noted Chatham art professor and award-winning graphic artist Mark Bender to explore the idea of creating an inspiring illustration based on our SPC community of faith. Mark presented his work and on May 2, 2018, the committee agreed to move forward with a commission for him to create a new branding image that would inspire current members and provide exciting visual information to visitors and new members.

After attending a worship service and touring the exterior and interior of the church, Mark presented four illustrated concepts for the committee’s consideration on June 12, 2018. The committee selected the concept that combined unique architectural features of the building and sanctuary with illustrations representing SPC life and mission and asked Mark to fully develop the illustration as a new branding image.

The final illustration is clearly inspired by the visual centerpiece of our sanctuary, Rudolf Sheffler’s shimmering 1938 mosaic of the Transfigured Christ. It depicts our vibrant and inclusive community of faith, which enriches the life of all members and is open to any and all to join our mission of service to God and to the world.

The illustration has been presented to the ministerial staff and to the SPC Session, and both have endorsed its use as a new institutional image of the church. Due to its mosaic-like form, the artwork can be used for many graphic purposes, in part or as a whole, and allows for the possibility to incorporate additional vignettes in the future. The Communications Committee invites members to let us know your thoughts about this new “digital mosaic.” You can share your feedback by sending a message to

SPC Communications Committee: Elder Jayne Adair Cox, chair; Elder John E. B. Baldridge; Elder Sara G. Brooke; Trustee H. Daniel Cessna; Elder Robert J. Ferguson; and Rev. Janice L. Murray

About the Artist

Mark Bender is a nationally-recognized illustrator who is currently an assistant professor of art at Chatham University. Mark is known for creating illustrations that give contemporary concepts an elegant and timeless motif. His illustrations have been featured frequently on the covers of Pittsburgh Quarterly. Mark also created the illustration which formed the basis for the Magee-Women’s Hospital 100th anniversary photo mosaic. His other clients include The Boston Globe, Carnegie Mellon University, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, the University of Pittsburgh, Heinz History Center, NPR, and the University of Chicago.

Rev. Magnuson Announces Departure

Rev. John F. Magnuson

Seven years ago, you all graciously welcomed me, a seminary intern, into your midst. Through many coffees, mornings in worship, retreats, and mission trips, you invited this seminary intern to be a part of your family. And as I started a family of my own, you welcomed Olivia, Ruthie, and Foster as part of your family, as well. I am forever grateful for the love, graciousness, and hospitality extended to our family from the Shadyside Presbyterian Church family. Together we have grown in God’s ministry and have experienced God’s love through each other.

Seven years ago as an intern, I never would have seen myself serving a large urban church like Shadyside. Growing up in a small congregation and attending a medium-sized rural church in college, I remember seeing myself as a pastor of a smaller congregation. However, God called us together, and in the last seven years I have been blessed to serve in ministry with you all. Now it is hard for me to imagine serving anywhere but Shadyside. However, I have felt God moving again and have been called to serve as Associate Pastor of Discipleship at a PC(USA) church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I write this letter with both joy and sadness, as I recount so many formative memories in my life surrounded by members and friends of Shadyside Presbyterian Church. I give God thanks for placing us in one another’s lives, for the ways I have encountered God through you all, and for the opportunity to grow into the pastor that I am today.

I hope to get a chance to say goodbye to you all over the next few weeks – please be sure to reach out for a coffee – and, if our paths don’t cross before my last date, please know of my gratitude for you all. My last day in worship will be Sunday, July 14, and we will be leaving soon after to get settled in Charlotte.

Grace and Peace,
Rev. John F. Magnuson

Pastor Nominating Committee Elected

Senior Pastor Search Begins

The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) was elected at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation on May 19, 2019. The members of the PNC are Susan W. Balaan, Sara G. Brooke, Donald P. Coffelt Jr., Percy M. Jackson, Adam D. Loucks, Ann E. Pauley, and Janet B. Rohrer. We thank each one of these members for taking on this important responsibility. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin their work.

Pittsburgh Marathon 2019

Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 5, 2019

Twenty-five members and friends of Shadyside Presbyterian Church are preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday, May 5. 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 pages at

Eat Dinner

Join the runners and meet our mission partner at a carbo-loading pasta dinner and pep rally on Friday, May 3, at 6:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Please RSVP by contacting the church office or signing up in the Sharp Atrium no later than Sunday, April 28. If you are interested in helping with the dinner, please contact Rev. John Magnuson.

Slice Oranges

Volunteers are needed the day before the race, Saturday, May 4, at 1:00 p.m. to slice nearly 200 pounds of oranges in the church kitchen. 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 the church office or sign up in the Sharp Atrium.

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 5.


Marathon weekend concludes with worship in the Sanctuary at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. Due to the church’s location within the marathon route, our service of worship moves from the morning to the afternoon. The Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles will preach, and Communion will be served by intinction. 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 join us for fellowship in the fresh outdoors as we are joined by Garfield Community Farm’s Mobile Market and Mission Mahi’s food truck. Learn more.

New Hymn by John Dalles and Mark Anderson

Introducing “As Your Dear Friend Once Welcomed You”

On Sunday, April 7, 2019, the Shadyside Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir and congregation sang a brand new hymn, “As Your Dear Friend Once Welcomed You,” which was written for that particular service of worship. The text was by our own Rev. Dr. John Dalles, set to a tune composed by our own Mark Anderson.

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

Dr. Dalles is the author of numerous hymn texts, including “Come, O Spirit” and “God, Bless Your Church with Strength,” which are included in the 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal. His commissioned hymns include those for Presbyterian Heritage Sunday, Augsburg, Goshen, Maryville, Tusculum, Wilson and Knox (Toronto) Colleges, American University, Pittsburgh and Lancaster Seminaries, Peachtree Presbyterian Church, and the Lutheran World Federation. His works are catalogued at Oberlin College Library and represented by GIA Publications, Oxford University Press, and others. A life-member of the Hymn Society, Dr. Dalles has published three collections of hymns: Swift Currents and Still Waters(2000), We Turn To God (2010), and God Is the Singer’s Friend (2013). His hymns have twice received first place in the highly-regarded Macalester Plymouth Annual Hymn Competition, in 2012 and in 2013.

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

An active composer, Mr. Anderson has won awards for both his choral compositions and hymns. He has received commissions for hymns, choral music, and brass arrangements from schools, community choirs, and churches, as well as the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Lutheran Psalter, and Princeton Theological Seminary. His music is published independently and by GIA Publications and Augsburg Fortress Press. In addition to composing a hymn (“Bright the Vision That Delighted”) for Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s 150th celebration in 2016, Mark also composed the Kyrie, Gloria Patri, and Sanctus we sing regularly in worship.

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

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!”