Landscape Study for Pittsburgh Presbytery

Dear Friends-

As the Presbytery enters into transition as we approach Sheldon’s retirement as General Minister, the Executive Committee has authorized a Landscape Study. Some may be familiar with the CAT (Church Assessment Tool) Scan from Holy Cow Consulting. The Landscape study is a similar tool but designed for mid-councils rather than judicatories. Our Presbytery was one of the first to participate in what has now become known as the Landscape Study after Rev. Jim Mead’s departure in 2007.

A Landscape Study provides a snapshot of the Presbytery as understood by its constituents. It’s not designed to offer solutions or suggestions but rather create a common language around the current state of the Presbytery. It’s akin to getting blood work or x-rays in the medical world – it gives you information you otherwise don’t have. Holy Cow Consulting uses the language of “evidence-based discernment.” Discernment is an essential task for any ministry at any point in time. An assessment such as Landscape provides a starting point firmly grounded in the present reality for future work. Rather than circumventing or replacing this work, it can help jump-start it.

Recently, our friends in the Southwestern PA Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran church completed a landscape study. Their Bishop had this to say about the tool:

The Landscape Survey revealed to us a vast gap in energy and satisfaction between our synod’s lay leadership and our rostered (pastors and deacons) leadership. The results were difficult to receive, but they prompted a concerted effort to address the matters that the survey was able to show lay under the gap of energy and satisfaction. We have done so, and I believe the results have been very positive. We have not solved the demise of Christendom, of course, not thwarted the devastating effects of COVID, but we have increased collegial belonging among our rostered ministers through greatly improved communication, and we have been empowered to sell our synod property and building and move to a rented office space.

The Landscape study is an online survey that takes approximately 15 minutes. All members of Pittsburgh Presbytery, defined as members of any of our congregations and all minister members, are eligible and encouraged to fill out the survey. The survey will be open from November 29th through December 20th, 2022.  

The survey is available here:

If someone wishes to complete the survey but cannot do so online, they can fill out a paper copy (downloadable here) and mail it to the Presbytery Office.  (901 Allegheny Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15233)

The Executive Committee will receive the report at a special meeting on March 7th, and an interpretation of the report will be provided at the May Presbytery meeting.  

As we begin this season of transition, your input is vital as we discern where God is leading us in this next chapter of ministry. Please complete the Landscape survey at your earliest convenience and share it, especially with those who have been engaged in the life of Presbytery.  

In Christ,

Rev. Brian Wallace

Associate Minister for Emerging Ministries