December 2023 Presbytery Meeting Digest

Digest of the Meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery – December 7, 2023

Pittsburgh Presbytery met for its regular Stated Meeting on Thursday, December 7, 2023, at Union Presbyterian Church of Robinson Township. The meeting was attended by 72 Ministers of Word and Sacrament and 55 Ruling Elders. There were 35 churches represented by at least one ruling elder and 12 registered visitors. The Moderator, Ruling Elder Louise Schoppe, called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. and constituted it with prayer.

After adoption of the consent agenda, the Presbytery then gathered for worship led by members of the General Minister Search Committee, with Rev. Austin Crenshaw Shelley preaching.

A monetary offering was received for equal distribution to the Lazarus Fund and the Hunger Fund. This amount will be matched by the Pittsburgh Presbyterian Foundation.

Rev. Dr. Jon Nelson, pastor of Union Presbyterian Church, welcomed members of the presbytery.

Rev. Jessica McClure-Archer, co-chair of Commission on Ministry, announced those ministers who are new or returning to the presbytery:

Rev. Dr. Peter Bower, Temporary Pastor of Baldwin United Presbyterian Church, effective January 1, 2024
Rev. Ernest Gardner III, Interim Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh
Rev. Jin Kyung Ko, Pastor of Crafton United Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Jon Nelson, pastor of Union Presbyterian Church of Robinson Township

Rev. McClure-Archer offered a prayer for these individuals beginning their new ministries.

Rev. Brian Wallace offered prayers for the following minister members who will be retiring or have retired:

Rev. Eric Dennis who will be retiring effective January 31, 2024
Rev. Tom Hall who retired effective September 1, 2023
Rev. Dr. Robert Maravalli who retired effective September 1, 2023

Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelley gave several announcements from the Presbyterian Foundation.

Rev. Dr. Doug Portz and Rev. Dr. Emily Chudy from the Board of Pensions shared details regarding upcoming changes to member medical coverage. Rev. Portz announced that, effective December 15, 2023, Rev. Chudy will be covering Pittsburgh Presbytery as its Board of Pensions regional representative.

Rev. Dr. Judi Slater provided an update on the Matthew 25 Initiative in Pittsburgh Presbytery.

The presbytery elected Rev. Lindsay White as Senior Vice Moderator for 2024

The current Senior Vice Moderator, Rev. Sarah Robbins, nominated and the presbytery approved the following to serve as Branch Vice Moderators in 2024:

Ruling Elder Mary Jo Buffo – West
Rev. Ben Robbins – North
Rev. Dr. Laura Strauss – South

Following their election, the moderator installed Rev. Sarah Robbins as Moderator, Rev. Lindsay White as Senior Vice Moderator, Ruling Elder Mary Jo Buffo as Vice Moderator for the West, Rev. Ben Robbins as Vice Moderator for the North, and Rev. Dr. Laura Strauss as Vice Moderator for the South effective January 1, 2024.

A resolution of thanks for the service of the outgoing moderator, Ruling Elder Louise Schoppe, was approved by acclamation.

Matters from the Commission on Preparation for Ministry [full report]

Rev. Walton moved that presbytery approve Victoria Wellstead, a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, for ordination pending call. Rev. Walton introduced Ms. Wellstead who then read her statement of faith before being excused. Following debate, the candidate was approved for ordination pending call and was welcomed back to the meeting with applause. Rev. Rebecca DePoe led a prayer for Ms. Wellstead.

Commission on Ministry Report [full report]

Rev. Ben Schneider, co-chair of the Commission on Ministry, advised that there were no items for action or information and referred presbyters to the printed commission report.

The Committee on Nominations Report [full report]

Ruling Elder Ann Strong, chair of the nominations committee presented the slate of nominees. There were no nominations from the floor and all nominees were elected.

Anti-Racism Transformation Team Report

Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards presented the report of the Anti-Racism Transformation Team highlighting the groups recent activities.

Report of the Acting Head of Staff 

Rev. Wallace provided further information on the Executive Committee’s recent action to declare the third weekend in February as “Henry Highland Garnett Weekend” in Pittsburgh Presbytery and gave some historical biographical information on Rev. Garnett. Rev. Wallace then provided a brief update on the transition before giving further background on the new policies enacted by the Commission on Ministry.

Report of the Committee on Representation

The Associate Minister for Congregational Support and Justice Ministries, Rev. Ralph Lowe, reported that the Committee on Representation was in a period of reorganization.

Matters from the Executive Committee [full report]

On behalf of the Executive Committee, co-chair Rev. Dr. Charissa Howe moved that presbytery elect the following to serve on the committee on nominations:

Rev. David Carver (Class of 2026B)
Rev. Jodi Flack (Class of 2026A)

Rev. Flack’s election required a waiver of the branch representation requirement as the current opening is for a minister from the South and Rev. Flack lives and serves in the West. Nominations from the floor not being in order per the Presbytery Manual, the nominees were elected.

Matters from the Stated Clerk [full report]

Ruling Elder Carla Campbell highlighted several items of information.

A resolution of appreciation to the Union Presbyterian Church of Robinson Township, its leadership, staff, and meeting volunteers for all their work and hospitality in hosting this meeting of presbytery was approved by acclamation.

The meeting ended at 3:57 p.m. with prayer given by Rev. Jin Kyung Ko.