“Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
“For God is not unjust; He will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for His sake in serving the saints, as you still do.” (Hebrews 6:10)
It brings me great joy to share with you that the Session of Shadyside Presbyterian Church (SPC) has recently voted to confer the title of Pastor Emeritus upon the Reverend Dr. M. Craig Barnes, our tenth Senior Pastor and recently retired President of Princeton Theological Seminary. Traditionally, the honorific title of Pastor Emeritus is reserved for retired ministers whose faithful service to God in a particular congregation is recognized as distinctive. You may recall that the Reverend Dr. F. Morgan Roberts received this honor in 1994. As a sign of our congregation’s deep gratitude, this honor lifts up the relationship of care and trust that already exists between Shadyside, Dr. Barnes, and his family. Naming Dr. Barnes as Pastor Emeritus also expresses our profound thanks for his commitment to covenant community centered in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Many of us who find our places in Shadyside’s sanctuary or connect to our livestream on Sunday mornings were members of SPC during Dr. Barnes’ pastorate from 2003 through 2012. Even those who, at that time, had not yet become a part of this faith community still benefit from the far reach of his ministry in the Church and in the academy. The Reverend Elizabeth Michael Ross and I studied as Master of Divinity students at Princeton Theological Seminary during Dr. Barnes’ service on its Board of Trustees. When I traveled with the seminary’s touring choir to Pittsburgh for the 2012 General Assembly of the PC(USA), Dr. Barnes met us at the door and welcomed us into the sanctuary, where he seemed to delight in our awe upon first setting eyes on the mosaic in the apse, the ornate carvings in the wood, and the grand Romanesque architecture quite unlike the sparse style of many of the Presbyterian churches we had visited on tour. During Dr. Barnes’ tenure as a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the Reverend Kendra Buckwalter Smith studied under his tutelage, and when he came to Princeton as its President, I, too, learned not only from his powerful preaching from the pulpit of the seminary chapel, but also from his faithful and wise leadership on campus and in the community. As he has answered the call of God upon his own life, Dr. Barnes has shaped a generation of leaders in the Church, perhaps especially here at Shadyside.
And so, upon the occasion of his retirement, please join us as we honor Dr. Barnes’ faithful service and give thanks for his pastoral heart, his poetic preaching, his discerning vision, his inspired teaching, and his gifted leadership. In the spring, we will invite Dr. Barnes into the pulpit, and Dawne and their family into their favorite spot in the fourth pew, as we worship God and celebrate together. Thanks be to God!
The Reverend Austin Crenshaw Shelley
Senior Pastor and Head of Staff