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News From Pittsburgh Presbytery

A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

In this week's pastoral letter, A Quiet Day, the Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge remarks about the mutual love and honor displayed at the pre-conference hour and the presbytery meeting in light of the major shift in the understanding and the practices of the church relating to marriage, what he has come to know as hallmarks of our presbytery.

Doug Portz Has Received a New Call

The Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz, Senior Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery, has received a new call to work as Regional Representative for the Board of Pensions effective July 12. Click here to read more.

Invitation to Attend Service of Installation

You are cordially invited to attend the Installation Service of the Rev. James Leuenberger scheduled for 4:00 PM on Sunday, May 31, at McKeesport Presbyterian Church.  This is an act of the presbytery as we welcome into ministry a colleague in Christ. We urge pastors and church members, especially of neighboring congregations, to attend as a way of helping a pastor and his congregation experience the partnership we have as members of Pittsburgh Presbytery. We also invite you to lift up James in prayer during your morning worship on May 31 as he officially begins his ministry.

Do You Want to Dismantle Racism?

The Anti-Racism Planning & Design Task Force of the Amos 5:24 Ministry Team is in the process of recruiting applicants for the Transformational  Team.  Racial justice work calls for a reordering of life, a dismantling of unjust structures, and an invitation to consider our complicity in systemic forms of oppression.  We invite you to prayerfully consider joining us in this awesome task. Applications may be found online along with a cover letter and background information.

An Urgent Message from the Great Commission Team of Pittsburgh Presbytery:
A Mission Crisis for the PC(USA)

Recently Hunter Farrell, the Director of Presbyterian World Mission for the PC(USA) visited Pittsburgh.  He shared information which is like a bomb-shell concerning mission for all of us in our denomination. Hunter shared there is a critical funding crisis for the continued support for mission co-workers. The office of World Mission reported to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board there will be a funding gap of $925,000 in 2016.  This means there will not be replacement of four retiring mission co-workers and prematurely ending the service of as many as five mission co-workers in 2016.  In 2017, the financial gap is $4.5 million resulting in the RECALL of 40 mission co-workers from the current 162 we have in service.

The causes of this crisis are numerous and systemic, but the mission giving and accumulated gifts from prior years have decreased and extra commitment funds are drying up. With gifts from prior years nearly depleted and limited mission program fund reserves, World Mission will have to rely solely upon donations made throughout the year.

Think about the consequences of these decisions.  World Mission began in Pittsburgh. The PC(USA) was the first denomination to send mission co-workers. There are hospitals and clinics which exist because of the funding through the PC(USA). Think about doctors, nurses, teachers, workers for peace and reconciliation, all who have had tremendous impact in countries all over the world, leaving the place where God has called them because of the lack of money.

I believe when God calls, God will direct people to supply the need. What can Pittsburgh Presbytery do to meet this crisis?  Pray -- yes, but I believe congregations and individuals can give sacrificially so that at least one mission co-worker will remain where God has placed them.  For more information you may email Nicole Gerkins at or call her at 502-569-5611.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Linda Ruby, Moderator of the Great Commission Team

West Branch Invites You to Help with Mission Kits

The West Branch congregations are collecting items to assemble kits for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Pleasant Valley Shelter. All congregations and individuals are invited to participate regardless of branch affiliation! Start collecting the items now and bring them with you when you attend the gathering on Thursday, June 11, at the Crafton United Presbyterian Church from 6:30-8:00 PM with dinner first on the agenda. Click here for a list of items and details. Please RSVP to the church by Wednesday, June 3, if you are attending (craftonup@yahoo.com / 412-921-2293).

Interested in Applying for a 2016 GECF Grant?

The Great Ends of the Church Fund Subcommittee invite all those who are thinking of applying for a 2016 grant to attend a round table discussion/workshop with previous grant recipients. This will be a forum to exchange ideas for new, imaginative, and collaborative ministries that will benefit our church communities and the surrounding neighborhoods. Previous grant recipients will share their vision and how it has impacted the Kingdom.  There will be a time to ask questions about the process, ways that the ministry idea fulfilled or exceeded the vision they had, problems that were overcome, and unexpected joys that came out of putting their vision into practice.

If you are eager to explore ways to make your new ministry idea come to life or feel you are being called to start a new ministry that fulfills one of the Great Ends of the Church, please join us at the offices of Pittsburgh Presbytery on Tuesday, June 2, from 10:00 AM–12:00 PM.

RSVP to ateter@pghpresbytery.org if you are able to attend.

Celebrate Heritage Sunday on May 24

The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) has created bulletin inserts you may download for use by your congregation to help you celebrate Heritage Sunday on May 24. This year, they are commemorating “Faith in God,” the funeral sermon for Abraham Lincoln preached by Presbyterian pastor Reverend Phineas Gurley.

PHS offers a number of services for your congregation from preserving your history to accessing historical records, to learning more about the heritage of American Presbyterianism. There is a lot to explore on their website!

Details for Presbytery Grants Available Online

Small Church Leadership Development Fund: Deadline Ongoing
Small Church Leadership Development Funds are designed to enable members of congregations (ordained and lay persons) with less than 100 in worship through leadership development to: grow in commitment to Jesus Christ; celebrate who and whose we are as people of God in small congregations; gain a renewed understanding and appreciation of our Presbyterian tradition; and develop congregational life. Grants are available for up to $500 per person per event per year, with a maximum of $1,000 per congregation per year. The guidelines and an application form are available online.

Enhancement Grants: Deadline August 31
The Administrative Commission for Transformation (ACT) hopes to promote ministry partnerships with the 2016 Enhancement Grants. The awards will be based on a 3-to-1 ratio: ACT will offer $3 for every $1 you raise with a maximum grant of $3,000. You are also encouraged to consider sharing in ministry with one or more congregations in your area and applying for a joint grant. Applications are due by August 31. Grants are awarded on a one-year basis. Churches are eligible to receive grants for two consecutive years but must reapply annually. After two consecutive years of receiving a grant, a church should wait one year before applying again. Applications and guidelines are available online.

Coming Training Events & Ministry Opportunities:

Coming Events & Retreats at Crestfield Camp & Conference Center

Continuing Education Opportunities & Events at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary:

NOTE: More information about Continuing Education (CE) is available online; all events offer CE Units.



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