May 2024 Presbytery Digest

Digest of the Meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery –May 23, 2024

Pittsburgh Presbytery met for its regular Stated Meeting on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at the Hick’s Memorial Chapel at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The meeting was attended by 83 Ministers of Word and Sacrament and 60 Ruling Elders. There were 38 churches represented by at least one ruling elder and 9 registered visitors. The Moderator, Rev. Sarah Robbins, called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. and constituted it with prayer.

After adoption of the consent agenda (with the exception of the financial report, considered during the Executive Committee report), the Presbytery then gathered for worship. Acting Head of Staff, Rev. Brian Wallace, preached. During worship, the presbytery’s commissioners to the 226th General Assembly were commissioned. Bibles donated from congregations within the presbytery for use within the Allegheny County Jail by the Foundation of Hope were dedicated for this use.

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.

Moderator announced that at the December Presbytery meeting an offering of $1,400 was collected which was matched by the Pittsburgh Presbyterian Foundation for a total of $2,800.

Rev. Dr. Angela Dienhart Hancock offered remarks welcoming presbytery to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Dr. Hancock introduced the presbytery to Rev. Eric Hoeke, the seminary’s new Director of Continuing Education.

Rev. Becky Branch-Trevathan, co-chair of Commission on Ministry, announced that one new minister member would be joining the presbytery, Rev. Mary Ann Banning, a retired member of Peace River Presbytery. Rev. Branch-Trevathan then offered a prayer for Rev. Banning.

Rev. Dr. Kristin Widrich and Rev. Walt Pietschmann provided an update on the activities of the Administrative Commission on Transformation.

Rev. Dr. Judi Slater updated the presbytery on its newest ministry team, Matthew 25 on the Move.

Resolution on Christian Nationalism

Rev. Dr. Charissa Howe, co-chair of the Executive Committee, moved that Pittsburgh Presbytery adopt the resolution on the dangers of Christian Nationalism that had been approved by the Executive Committee and by several congregations and organizations within Pittsburgh Presbytery. The Moderator recognized Ruling Elder Jean Miewald from Bower Hill Community Presbyterian Church to speak to the resolution. The complete text of the resolution is attached hereto as Appendix A to the Executive Committee’s report, which is appended to these minutes and is incorporated by reference herein. Following debate, the resolution was approved.

Matters from the Commission on Preparation for Ministry [Full Report]

Rev. Gavin Walton, chair of the CPM, announced that there were three candidates for ministry who were coming forward to be introduced:

Emily Cowser, a member of John McMillan Presbyterian Church
J. Davis Creach, a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church
Cassie Semler, a member of First Presbyterian Church, Duquesne

Each candidate was introduced by a member of their care time and had the opportunity to make brief remarks regarding their faith journeys and current ministry. Following the introductions, Rev. Walton offered a prayer for the candidates.

Matters from the Commission on Ministry [Full Report]

Rev. Ben Schneider, co-chair of the Commission on Ministry, provided information about the upcoming changes to the Board of Pensions medical insurance and announced ways that presbyters may have their questions answered and give feedback.

Report of the Acting Head of Staff

Rev. Wallace provided an update on the General Minister search and transition process and discussed the “power of gathering” as the presbytery, openness and desire for deep work (e.g., the Alliance for Honor and Repair), and signs of increased engagement in the work of the presbytery. Rev. Wallace addressed the recommendation regarding the cessation of direct reimbursement of medical expenses. More information will be shared as available. Finally, Rev. Wallace highlighted several upcoming events and offered words of encouragement for the coming year. Rev. Dr. Laura Strauss, Chair of the Special Nominating Committee, provided an update on the search for the General Minister of Pittsburgh Presbytery. Rev. Wallace provided information on the Board of Pensions changes and announced the new dates for International Partnership pilgrimage, for fall 2024.

The Committee on Nominations Report [Full Report]

On behalf of the committee, Elder Ann Strong announced that the Nominating Committee is nominating the following individual to fill an unexpired term on the Commission on Preparation for Ministry:

Ronee Christy (Class of 2026A)

There being no nominations from the floor, the nominee was elected.

Matters from the Executive Committee [Full Report]

Rev. Emily Cooper, co-chair of the Executive committee, gave the Executive Committee report. The financial report, having been removed from the Consent Agenda, was briefly discussed.

Matters from the Stated Clerk [Full Report]

The Vice Moderator, Rev. Lindsay White, moved that Pittsburgh Presbytery express its appreciation to the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, its leadership, staff, and meeting volunteers for all their work and hospitality in hosting this meeting of presbytery. Their hospitality was greatly appreciated. The motion was seconded and approved unanimously.

There being no further business to come before Presbytery, the meeting was ended at 3:38 p.m. with prayer given by the Vice Moderator, Rev. Lindsay White.