Digest of the Meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery – September 28, 2023

Digest of the Meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery

September 28, 2023

Pittsburgh Presbytery met for its regular Stated Meeting on Thursday, September 28, 2023, at Crestfield Camp and Conference Center. The meeting was attended by 75 Ministers of Word and Sacrament and 50 Ruling Elders. There were 33 churches represented by at least one ruling elder and 16 registered visitors. The Moderator, Ruling Elder Louise Schoppe, called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. and constituted it with prayer.

After adoption of the consent agenda, the Presbytery then gathered for worship with Rev. Brian Wallace preaching. During the worship service, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was celebrated, and the service of remembrance was observed.

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.

Mr. Mike Little, Executive Director of Crestfield Camp and Conference Center, offered remarks welcoming the presbytery to Crestfield and showed a video of summer highlights from camp.

Rev. Ben Schneider, co-chair of Commission on Ministry, announced those ministers who are new to the presbytery:

Rev. Dr. Steve Aguzzi, Pastor of Unity United Presbyterian Church

Rev. Lori Bass-Riley, Director of Christian Education, Fox Chapel

Rev. Dr. Rachel Hebert, Associate Pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church

Rev. Dora Odarenko, Covenant Pastor of South Side Presbyterian Church

Rev. Timothy Spring, Interim Pastor of Oakmont Presbyterian Church

He then announced those ministers who have received new calls in the presbytery. They are:

Rev. Mike Creamer, Temporary Associate Pastor of Sewickley Presbyterian Church

Rev. Lee Nichols, Temporary Pastor of Oakmont Presbyterian Church

Rev. Sarah Robbins, Interim Pastor of Sixth Presbyterian Church

Rev. Schneider then offered a prayer for these individuals beginning their new ministries.

Rev. Ralph Lowe then led a prayer for the families of the following ministers and a former moderator who joined the Church Triumphant since the presbytery’s last meeting:

Rev. Robert Montgomery who joined the Church Triumphant June 6, 2023

Rev. Dr. Reid Stewart who joined the Church Triumphant July 3, 2023

Rev. Dr. Thomas Petrosky who joined the Church Triumphant August 14, 2023

Former Moderator Ruling Elder Ronald Curry who joined the Church Triumphant on September 11, 2023

Mr. David Staniunas, Records Archivist at the Presbyterian Historical Society and an Assistant Stated Clerk, PC(USA) offered greetings and information on the programs offered by the Historical Society.

The presbytery was shown a brief video introducing the work of Impact Community Initiative, a recipient of a Freedom Rising grant.

On behalf of the Peacemaking Ministry Team, Rev. Kathy Hamilton-Vargo provided information on their work on voting rights issues.

Matters from the Executive Committee [full report]

On behalf of the Executive Committee, co-chair Rev. Dr. Charissa Howe moved that presbytery approve the proposed 2024 Budget. The Moderator recognized the Acting Head of Staff, Rev. Brian Wallace, to present the budget. Following discussion, the motion was approved.

Acting Head of Staff Rev. Brian Wallace provided an update on the search for a new General Minister.

Rev. Howe provided an update on the efforts of the Nominating Committee for the Repair and Reconciliation Alliance.

Matters from the Stated Clerk [full report]

The Stated Clerk reminded presbyters that there is a new Book of Order available.


Prior to the presbytery’s lunch break, Rev. Erin Angeli and Rev. Mike Holohan from the Commonwealth of Oakland introduced a video about this new worshipping community that was then shown in the meeting.

The presbytery stood at ease for lunch and fellowship.

Following lunch, the Senior Vice Moderator, Rev. Sarah Robbins, assumed the chair.

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

Rev. Walton moved that presbytery approve Michael Ball, a member of Community House Presbyterian Church, for ordination pending call. Rev. Walton introduced Mr. Ball who then read his 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. Lindsay White then led a prayer for Mr. Ball.

Rev. Walton then moved that presbytery approve Mr. Steven Singleton, a member of Bidwell Street United Presbyterian Church, for ordination pending call. The Moderator recognized Ruling Elder Robert Lindeman to introduce Mr. Singleton. Mr. Singleton read his Statement of Faith before being excused from the meeting. Following debate, the candidate was approved for ordination pending call and was welcomed back to the meeting with applause. Rev. Patrice Fowler then led a prayer for Mr. Singleton.

Committee on Nominations Report [full report]

Elder Strong reported that the nominations committee was nominating Ruling Elder Frank Hancock to fill an unexpired term on the Commission on Ministry in the Class of 2025A from the East. There being no nominations from the floor, the nominee was elected.

Elder Strong then announced that the Nominating Committee is nominating Rev. Lindsay White as Senior Vice Moderator for 2024. The Moderator asked if there were any nominations from the floor, noting that such nominations would not be in order at the December meeting per the Manual of Pittsburgh Presbytery. There were none.

Elder Strong then presented the current slate of nominees for 2024 as a first read.

Commission on Ministry Report [full report]

Rev. Jessica McClure-Archer, 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.

Report of the Acting Head of Staff [slide show]

Rev. Wallace highlighted several upcoming events within the presbytery before providing a further update on the search for the new General Minister and a preview of coming changes in health coverage under the Board of Pensions. Rev. Wallace then gave a more in-depth presentation on the progress of the transition including the approval of a new mission and vision statement for Pittsburgh Presbytery.

The meeting ended at 2:56 p.m. with prayer given by Rev. Mike Creamer.