May 2022 Presbytery Digest


Pittsburgh Presbytery met for its regular Stated Meeting on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The meeting was attended by 65 Ministers of Word and Sacrament and 49 Ruling Elders. There were 24 churches represented by at least one ruling elder, and 10 registered visitors. In the absence of the Moderator, the Senior Vice-Moderator, Ruling Elder Louise Schoppe, called the meeting to order at 1:00 p.m. and constituted it with prayer.

The following individuals were enrolled as corresponding members:

Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelley, a member in good standing of the Presbytery of Lake
Rev. Emily Miller, a member in good standing of Beaver-Butler Presbytery

Rev. Jessica McClure-Archer, co-chair of the Commission on Ministry, offered a prayer for those beginning new ministries in the presbytery:

Rev. Doug Gebhard, Interim Pastor of Union Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Gary Neal Hansen, Parish Associate at Shadyside Presbyterian Church
Rev. Emily Miller, Temporary Associate Pastor of Sewickley Presbyterian Church

Rev. Brian Wallace offered a prayer for Rev. Dennis Molnar and Rev. Lynn Portz who are being granted Honorable Retirement Status.

Rev. Dr. Johnnie Monroe moved to amend the docket to move consideration of the Voter Suppression Resolution to follow the close of worship. The docket was approved as amended.

Rev. Dr. Ted Martin asked that item #4 of the Stated Clerk’s report be removed from the consent agenda. The remainder of the consent agenda was approved.

The presbytery gathered to worship and celebrate the contributions of our African American Presbyterian Churches with Rev. Gavin Walton preaching and Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge leading music. During worship, the presbytery’s Commissioners to the 225th General Assembly were commissioned by former Moderator, Ruling Elder Mark Roth.

Our Commissioners are:

Elder Louise Schoppe (Ken Mawr)
Elder Clifford Huff (Glenshaw Valley)
Elder Nancy Kay Stanny (Valley Presbyterian)
Rev. Rebecca DePoe (Fox Chapel)
Rev. Dr. John Welch (Validated Ministry)
Rev. Jodi Flack (Rennerdale UP)
Our Theological Student Advisory Delegate is:
Elder Elizabeth Nicodemus (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary)

During the call to offering, it was announced that at the February meeting an offering of $1,235.00 was collected for a total of $2,470.00 after the Pittsburgh Presbyterian Foundation match.

Rev. Dr. Ron Peters moved on behalf of the Amos 5:24 Ministry Team that presbytery approve the following resolution:

Be it resolved that the following statement is adopted by the Pittsburgh Presbytery and will be distributed to the Presbytery’s churches and teaching elders, the Synod of the Trinity, local media, and elected officials who represent citizens within the Presbytery:

We Christians of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, recalling Christ’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves and not neglect “the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith,” declare our commitment to upholding the civil rights of all Americans, including the hard-won right to vote, which is now being threatened across our land.

Hundreds of bills have been introduced in state legislatures recently that will make it difficult, and in some cases practically impossible, for many eligible citizens to vote. Such measures echo a long, unjust, and violent history of efforts to keep African Americans and other people of color, especially, from voting, restricting their access to the representation we all need to protect our rights and freedoms.

These bills are put forth in the name of ensuring election integrity, though study after study has shown that our recent elections have been overwhelmingly free and fair. Very little fraud has been found through in-person or mail-in balloting, and former Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of wrongdoing that would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election. Legislative or other efforts that have the effect of keeping people from voting amount to disenfranchisement, regardless of what their proponents claim.

A democratic republic should make it easier, not harder, for all its eligible citizens to vote, and voters should be able to choose their representatives through elections; but in the rampant practice of gerrymandering, politicians try to choose their own voters and make access to the polls easier for their supporters and harder for opponents.

Our Presbyterian Church has long supported civil rights, including the right to vote. In the 1950s, the church became acutely aware of the catastrophic consequences of not speaking out against practices that kept millions of Americans from the ballot box and other civil rights. A 1959 General Assembly urged voting rights for all citizens of voting age, and the church supported the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its renewal in 2006 (passed 98-0 in the Senate, 390-33 in the House). Again in 2008, the General Assembly called for measures “providing greater accessibility for all voters.”

Governments at every level need to make voting safe, secure, and easily accessible for all citizens. Congress can help by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the For the People Act, and the Freedom to Vote Act, or comparable legislation, and state legislatures must not be allowed to twist voting procedures for partisan advantage. We call upon our representatives at all levels of government to guarantee the fundamental right to vote for every eligible American.

The resolution was approved.

Matters from the Executive Committee (Full report)

Elder Lenore Williams, co-chair of the executive committee, announced that at the February 24, 2022, Stated Meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery, the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee nominated Ruling Elder Carla Campbell for re-election as Stated Clerk. The five-year term of the Stated Clerk will begin July 1, 2022. The Stated Clerk was re-elected.

Rev. Dr. David Wood presented the report of the Special Nominating Committee for the position of Associate Minister of Justice Ministries. Rev. Wood, on behalf of the Special Nominating Committee, moved that Ralph Lowe be presented for election and ordination to the position of Associate Minister for Justice Ministries. Elder Lowe was sustained in his examination for ordination and elected to the position of Associate Minister for Justice Ministries.

Following the election, the Special Nominating Committee was dismissed with thanks. Members of the Special Nominating Committee are:

Ruling Elder Bob Crynack
Ruling Elder Dawn Harvin
Rev. Laura Strauss
Rev. Dr. David Wood
Ruling Elder Lenore Williams

Matters from the Stated Clerk (Full report)

The Stated Clerk presented a Resolution of Thanks for the Life and Witness of Ruling Elder Nan Moone Currington. The resolution was unanimously adopted.

The disciplinary matter, DM-2021-01, having been concluded, the Stated Clerk requested that the Prosecuting Committee in this matter be dismissed with thanks. Members of the Prosecuting Committee are:

Rev. Lance Chapman
Ruling Elder Penn Hackney
Rev. Stephanie Martin
Ruling Elder Louise Schoppe

Pittsburgh Presbytery also expressed its appreciation for the efforts of Rev. Derek Campbell who also participated as a member of the Investigating Committee before leaving the presbytery to take a new call.

The Stated Clerk reported that the Investigating Committee in Disciplinary Matter DM2021-01 filed charges on February 16, 2022, a pre-trial conference was held on April 8, 2022, and a trial was scheduled to commence on May 10, 2022. Prior to the trial, the parties were able to reach a settlement of the matter which was accepted by the Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery on May 10, 2022. As required by D-11.0701, the Stated Clerk read the decision in full and appended a true and correct copy to the Minutes.

Rev. Jeff Eddings moved the approval of the proposed revised charter for the New Worshipping Communities Commission. (Full Charter)

The proposed new charter was approved.

Report of the Commission on Preparation for Ministry (Full report)

Ruling Elder Peggy Bonfiglio, co-chair of the CPM introduced four candidates to be welcomed:

Ruling Elder Rebecca Abbott, a member of Unity Presbyterian Church, Greentree, who was introduced by Rev. Dr. Ted Martin;
Ruling Elder Karl Casey, member of Bower Hill Community Church, who was introduced by Rev. Niki Atkinson;
Steven Singleton, a member of Bidwell Street United Presbyterian Church, who was introduced by Rev. Patrice Fowler-Searcy;
Victoria Wellstead, a member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church, who was introduced by Elder Bonfiglio.

Elder Bonfiglio then moved on behalf of the commission that Jason Dauer, a member of the Open Door Presbyterian Church, be sustained in his examination for ordination pending call. She asked the Moderator to recognize Rev. Dr. Tyler Domske to introduce Mr. Dauer. The candidate was sustained in his oral examination.

Elder Bonfiglio then moved on behalf of the commission that Amy Newell, a member of Hoboken Presbyterian Church, be sustained in her examination for ordination pending call. She asked the Moderator to recognize Rev. Lee Nichols to introduce Ms. Newell. The candidate was sustained in her oral examination.

Report of the Committee on Nominations

Rev. Dr. Tammy Wiens, co-chair of the Nominations Committee, presented the following nominations for election:

Commission on Preparation for Ministry
Elder Margaret Dixon, Beulah (2024A) – East
Pittsburgh Presbyterian Foundation
The Rev. Austin Crenshaw Shelley, Shadyside (2024A) – East

The nominees were elected.

Report of the Commission on Ministry (Full report)

The meeting was ended at 4:59 p.m. with prayer given by Rev. Emily Miller.