February 2024 Presbytery Digest

Digest of the Meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery – February 22, 2024

Pittsburgh Presbytery met for its regular Stated Meeting on Thursday, February 22, 2024, via Zoom Video Conferencing. The meeting was attended by 71 Ministers of Word and Sacrament and 63 Ruling Elders. There were 36 churches represented by at least one ruling elder. 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, the Presbytery then gathered for worship. Rev. Ralph Lowe called the body to worship with prayer and a reading from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A pre-recorded message from Rev. Jimmie Ray Hawkins who serves as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Advocacy Director of the Washington Office of Public Witness and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations (NYC) was then shared.

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.

Following the worship service, the Moderator announced that at the December Presbytery meeting an offering of $2,618 was collected which was matched by the Pittsburgh Presbyterian Foundation for a total of $5,236.

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

Rev. Rebecca Young is returning to Pittsburgh Presbytery and will be serving as a chaplain at UPMC Mercy Hospital.
Rev. Larry Ruby is now serving as Interim Pastor of Linway United Presbyterian Church

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

Rev. Louise Rogers offered a prayer for Rev. Dr. Tami Hooker who retired effective January 6, 2024. Rev. Rogers then lead a prayer for the families of the following minister members who joined the Church Triumphant since the last presbytery meeting:

Rev. Louis Brown – December 18, 2023
Rev. Dr. James K. Smith – December 31, 2023
Rev. William Roemer – January 6, 2024

Rev. Jeff Eddings provided an update from the Alliance for Honor and Repair.

Rev. Carol Divens Roth, on behalf of the Matthew 25 Steering Team, introduced a video update on the work of the Foundation of Hope at the Allegheny County Jail.

Matters from the Executive Committee [Full Report]

There were no items of business from the Executive Committee that were not part of the Consent Agenda.

Matters from the Stated Clerk [Full Report]

The Stated Clerk drew the body’s attention to several items in her written report before providing an update on the sale of the property of the former Grand View United Presbyterian Church.

The Stated Clerk then announced that Presbyter Rev. Dr. Doug Portz timely submitted to the Office of the Stated Clerk the following set of overtures to amend the Book of Order pertaining to shared ministry and that the Presbytery of Lake Erie passed the overtures on February 13, 2024. Accordingly, Pittsburgh Presbytery is asked to concur with the overtures [Text of Overture]. The motion to concur was approved.

The Stated Clerk moved that Pittsburgh Presbytery approve the following overture:

The Presbytery of Pittsburgh overtures the 226th General Assembly (2024) to:

Direct the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to begin focused engagement with General Electric (GE) and Palantir Technologies, Inc. in the 2025 and 2026 proxy seasons and to report back to the 227th General Assembly (2026) with possible divestment recommendations for the companies that are not moving toward compliance with established General Assembly policies.

Rev. Chad Collins from Valley View Presbyterian Church and Ruling Elder Tom Twiss from Sixth Presbyterian Church spoke in favor of the overture on behalf of their sessions who separately endorsed and submitted the overture.

Following debate, the motion was approved.

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.

Matters from the Commission on Ministry [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.

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

Rev. Walton announced that there is one candidate coming before presbytery to be welcomed, Ruling Elder Carolyn Leah, a member of Beulah United Presbyterian Church, who is a candidate to be a Commissioned Pastor.

Rev. Jason Frayer introduced Elder Leah who then made brief remarks before Rev. Walton offered a prayer.

The Committee on Nominations Report [Full Report]

On behalf of the committee, Elder Strong moved that the following individuals be elected to fill unexpired terms on the New Worshipping Communities Commission:

Rev. Jason Dauer (Class of 2026A)
Rev. Jane Larson (Class of 2026A)

There being no nominations from the floor, the nominees were elected.

The meeting ended at 2:45 p.m. with prayer given by with prayer given by Elder Carolyn Leah.