Pastoral Letter

A COVID-19 Congregational Update

Artwork: Detail of Shadyside Presbyterian Church’s “Digital Mosaic,” illustrated by Mark Bender. All rights reserved by Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As our world and our nation have navigated the past three months, we, your pastors, have had unique opportunities to share and pray with you through days of uncertainty, fear, sadness, and frustration. We also have been privileged to rejoice with you in moments of unexpected joy and beauty, times when God’s presence was clearly evident. We are writing, first of all, to remind you that Shadyside Presbyterian Church is here to walk with you and with our community through all that has happened, and is yet to come. With you, we grieve what has been lost: the handshakes and hugs, the spontaneous conversations and meals shared, the celebrations and milestones that have been put on hold. We long for the days when we will be together again in person, sharing in worship, fellowship, education, and mission as we always have. Indeed, we treasure those times, as we know you do.

Balanced with that longing comes a strong desire to do all that is possible to honor each of you by maintaining your health and safety. We want you to know that your Session is reviewing government and medical guidelines, and prayerfully discerning what it might look like — and when — to begin gradually coming back into our building. Please be assured that this will be carefully and faithfully considered, and we will communicate with you as plans emerge.

In the meantime, please know that although our offices are currently not open to the public, the Church of Jesus Christ is never “closed.” Indeed, the church staff and we, your pastors, continue to work remotely, and to be available to you. We are here for you, if you want to talk or pray or simply connect to share what is going on in your life. You can reach any of us by emailing us or calling the church and leaving a message.

Our life together continues to be vibrant and connected. It is exciting to see the ways that God is at work, bringing people together in creative ways. Bible studies, adult Christian Education classes, prayer groups, grief support group, and virtual coffee fellowships are meeting throughout the week, and you are welcome to join any and all of these. Along with our ongoing Children’s Ministry on Sundays, a virtual Vacation Bible School will bring God’s love to our children in a new and interactive way. Our youth are connecting virtually as never before. We continue in conversation and support with our mission partners in our community and around the world. Our summer music mini-series will begin in an online format soon. More information about any of these can be found on our website:

If you have not yet visited Facebook or YouTube on Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m. to worship with us, please be sure to do so. You will be joining with God’s people near and far to hear God’s Word, to pray together, and to sing praises to our Lord who reigns in highest heaven.

The details of our life together are still happening, as well. The financial office is able to receive your offerings, either by mail or online. Our annual congregational meeting will occur remotely on Sunday, June 14. (Details)

We, your pastors, dearly miss being with you all. We pray for you and for our church each day, looking forward to the time that we will see you again in person. But we know that this is God’s Church, and, even in these times, the Holy Spirit is breathing the wind of God’s grace and enthusiasm into God’s people, bringing new understandings of what it means to be the Body of Christ in this world. We are excited to see what God is doing in and with His Church, and to walk forward with you into God’s future.

To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.

Blessings and Peace,

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

Rev. Lynn M. Portz
Associate Pastor for Parish Life

Rev. Todd E. Leach
Associate Pastor for Missions

Rev. Kendra L. Buckwalter Smith
Temporary Associate Pastor