February 2023 Presbytery Digest

Digest of the Meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery – February 16, 2023

 Pittsburgh Presbytery met for its regular Stated Meeting on Thursday, February 16, 2023, via Zoom videoconferencing. The meeting was attended by 84 Ministers of Word and Sacrament and 58 Ruling Elders. There were 39 churches represented by at least one ruling elder and no registered visitors. The outgoing Moderator, Rev. Rebecca DePoe, called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. and constituted it with prayer.

The Moderator, Rev. Rebecca DePoe, offered a prayer for those beginning new ministries in the presbytery:

Rev. Erin Angeli at Commonwealth of Oakland
Rev. Jane Larson at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

She also announced the pastor who has moved to a new position within the Presbytery:

Rev. Susan Rothenberg as Temporary Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon

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

The Moderator recognized Rev. Brian Wallace to offer a prayer for Rev. Janet Guyer and Rev. Dr. Paul Roberts who are being granted Honorable Retirement Status. Rev. Wallace then led a prayer for the family of Rev. Kellie Mills who joined the Church Triumphant on February 14, 2022.

The Moderator recognized Rev. Dr. Doug Portz from the Board of Pensions who provided an update on implications of the Highmark data breach on those with health insurance coverage through the Board of Pensions.

On behalf of the Executive Committee, Co-chair Rev. Dr. Trent A. Hancock moved the approval of the Consent Agenda. The Consent Agenda was approved.


Associate Minister for Justice Ministries, Rev. Ralph Lowe, led devotions, referring to the overture from Sixth Presbyterian Church on reparations for Bethel AME Church and exploring what it means to biblically address racial inequity for the sake of God’s glory.

The Moderator announced that a total of $1,012.82 was collected from the December meeting. This amount was matched by the Pittsburgh Presbyterian Foundation for a total of $2,025.64.

Installation of Moderator and Vice Moderators

Rev. Rebecca DePoe then installed Ruling Elder Louise Schoppe as Moderator, Rev. Sarah Robbins, as Senior Vice Moderator, Ruling Elder Nancy Stanny, as Vice Moderator, West, Rev. Sharon Stewart, as Vice Moderator, South, and Ruling Elder Drew Wilson, Vice Moderator, East.

Stated Clerk Carla Campbell was called upon to present a resolution of thanks to the outgoing Moderator of the Presbytery, Rev. Rebecca DePoe, for her dedication and service to the presbytery. Upon proper second, the motion was approved.

Second Reading of Overture from Sixth Presbyterian Church regarding Reparations for Bethel AME church

The Moderator called upon Rev. Lowe to answer questions that were submitted in advance and to provide further information on this overture.

Report of the Synod Executive – Reflections of a Jasper after His First Year

Rev. Forest Claassen, Executive of the Synod of the Trinity from our Synod Executive who will be staffing the Special Nominating Committee for a new General Minister, provided reflections for times of transition.

Matters from the Executive Committee [Full Report]

The Moderator recognized Rev. Dr. Hancock to give the Executive Committee report. The complete written report of the Executive Committee is appended to these minutes and incorporated by reference herein.

Rev. Hancock moved that the following individuals be elected to the special nominating committee for the General Minister of the Presbytery:

Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell                                           Validated–PTS
Rev. Dr. Brian Janssen                                           Bethany
Ruling Elder Anita Perry                                        Riverview
Ruling Elder Mark Roth                                         East Liberty
Ruling Elder Anthony (Bucky) Savatt                 Ken Mawr
Rev. Austin Shelley                                                  Shadyside
Rev. Laura Strauss                                                   Sunset Hills
Rev. Gavin Walton                                                   Grace Memorial
Ruling Elder Lauren Wolcott                                Hot Metal

Nominations from the floor not being in order pursuant to the Presbytery Manual, the nominees were elected.

Matter from the Stated Clerk [Full Report]

The Stated Clerk moved that Pittsburgh Presbytery approve the following proposed amendments to the Book of Order:

22F amending G-2.0505a(1)
22H amending G-2.0605
22J amending G-2.1001
22S amending G-4.0301

The proposed amendments were approved.

The Stated Clerk moved that Pittsburgh Presbytery approve proposed amendment 22I amending G-2.0804. Following discussion, the motion was approved.

Next, the clerk moved that presbytery approve proposed amendment 22Q which amends G‑3.0303c. The motion was approved.

The fourth motion was that presbytery approve the following proposed amendments:

22DD amending D-10.0302
22EE amending D-10.0303
22FF amending all references in the current Rules of Discipline from “the accused” to “the person accused”

The motion was approved.

Amendment 22CC amending D-3.0106  (originally part of the fourth motion) was requested to be considered separately. The motion was not approved.

Finally, the Stated Clerk moved that presbytery approve proposed amendment 22GG which replaces the current Rules of Discipline with the new Church Discipline. The motion was approved.

Report of the Commission on Ministry [Full Report]

The Moderator recognized Rev. Ben Schneider, Co-chair of Commission on Ministry, who moved that Pittsburgh Presbytery approve the request of Glenshaw Presbyterian Church for the services of Rev. Emily Cooper as Pastor and the appointment of Rev. Cooper as Moderator. The motion properly was seconded and was approved.

Rev. Schneider moved that presbytery approve the request of Redstone Presbytery to dismiss Rev. Robert Ruefle as of January 28, 2023. The motion properly was seconded and was approved.

Report of the Commission on Preparation for Ministry [Full Report]

The Moderator called on Rev. Gavin Walton, Chair of the Commission on Preparation who announced that one item of CPM business inadvertently was skipped at the December 2022 presbytery meeting. On behalf of CPM, Rev. Walton moved that Pittsburgh Presbytery authorize its Moderator to appoint a Commission for the sole purpose of ordaining an individual. The motion was approved.

Rev. Walton moved the approval of a plan for ordination as the leader of an immigrant congregation for Ruling Elder Lam Nguyen who presently serves as their commissioned pastor.

Pursuant to G-2.0610 as informed by G-2.0505a(1), the Commission on Preparation for Ministry moves that Pittsburgh Presbytery adopt by a ¾ vote the following path for ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament for Ruling Elder Lam Nguyen:

A sub-committee of CPM will meet with Pastor Lam up to four times between now and May 1st. During these meetings, the team will discuss with him the topics covered by the standard ordination exams (Biblical Content and Exegesis, Theology, Worship/Sacraments, and Polity). The sub-committee will also discuss Lam’s sense of call and ministry experience.

Rev. Don Dawson will serve as Pastor Lam’s tutor in Presbyterian Polity. Rev. Dawson will submit a letter to the commission attesting to the work Lam has completed.

If the way be clear, Pastor Lam would appear before CPM in May of 2023 and would be introduced to the Presbytery for ordination at the May 2023 Presbytery meeting.

Because English is his second language, Pastor Lam would not be required to submit a traditional written statement of faith.  Rather, the sub-committee would work with Pastor Lam to prepare a written profile detailing his Christian faith and sense of call.

Pastor Lam will appear before the Presbytery to answer questions about his Christian faith, sense of call, and forms of service.

The motion was approved by a ¾ vote as required by G-2.0610, Accommodations to Particular Circumstances.

The Committee on Nominations Report [Full Report]

The Moderator recognized Rev. Carol Divens Roth, Vice Chair of the Nominations Committee, who moved that Ruling Elder Katrina Dunderdale be nominated to the Commission on Ministry in the Class of 2025A (East Branch). There being no nominations from the floor, the nominee was elected.

Report of the Acting Head of Staff

Acting Head of Staff Rev. Brian Wallace provided updates on the Landscape Study (402 responses were received) and other transition matters.

The meeting was ended at 3:07 p.m. with prayer given by Rev. Louise Rogers.