Sunday, July 17, 2016

That's So Pittsburgh: Churches

Until Dear Husband finds a church job, we have the freedom to "church shop" Sunday mornings. Here are some places I/we have visited:

Swissvale Presbyterian Church
MAIL (My Awesome In-Laws) took us to this church our first Sunday in town, as it was the recipient of a significant bequest after the death of an extended relative of my MIL's. The sanctuary is lovely, but it was hot, and the service was sparsely attended. The young pastor gave a very moving sermon about God being present in our time of need--it may have hit a little too close to home for DH. Afterward we wondered whether the bequest wasn't propping up a dying white church in a now-black neighborhood. I wanted to stay for the peach lunch, but DH wanted pizza and a nap.

South Avenue United Methodist Church (above)
My mother stayed home with DH while I biked to this church. We met in an air-conditioned "John Wesley Room" with a satisfactory grand piano to accompany the small choir. I was a little late, but I tried to be social by sitting next to an older man by himself. Whoops, I chose poorly, as I apparently took his wife's seat. Should have chosen the single older gentleman two rows ahead. The pastor was gone at annual conference, but the rest of the small congregation could not be accused of being overly friendly. The wife didn't even introduce herself. The only reason I met anyone after the service was because the 90-something-year-old man who was celebrating his 75th wedding anniversary came up to me standing alone in the back to show me a magic trick and photos of himself and his wife from the 1940s. Totes adorbs. Then, when other people came up to congratulate them, they had to greet me, too. When I told him my husband is an organist, at least he let me see the organ in the sanctuary. What I learned from the sermon: the 10 commandments can be reduced to an acrostic: I AM THE LORD: Idolatry Adultery Murder Take Honor Envy Lie One Rest Disrespect. (No to idolatry, adultery, murder, stealing, --, envy, lying, --, --, disrespecting one's neighbor by coveting his things, wife, etc. Yes to honoring one's parents, acknowledging one God, and resting on the Sabbath.)

East Liberty Presbyterian Church aka "The Cathedral of Hope"
Dear Husband had heard that the music ministry at this church was all the rage, so although the cisplatin was still causing problems with his hearing, we packed a pair of earplugs, and off we went. Unfortunately we missed the prelude, but the soloist who sang the special music was a-MAZ-ing. Parts of the service were even in Spanish. The sermon addressed the massacre at The Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando, FL. The sanctuary was reasonably full, but DH didn't want to stay afterwards to meet anyone. I would go back. It seemed like an active congregation trying to do good in the community.

Mifflin Avenue United Methodist Church
Another congregation meeting in an air-conditioned "John Wesley Room." Attendance was even poorer than the last UMC, and the upright piano was not quite in tune. The (self-appointed?) head of hospitality apologized that the congregation actually had several families, but it was in the process of rebuilding. This pastor was also gone (on vacation?), but the guest speaker was pretty good. There was no parking lot, and no bike rack, either. But the sanctuary has obviously been remodeled recently and is probably very nice in the winter. Love those big red doors in an old stone church.

Church of the Redeemer (Episcopal)
DH had heard the organist here, Nathan Carterette, on the radio during one of his (DH's) 24/7 radio marathons while recovering from chemotherapy. NC is a young pianist/organist, very personable and innovative--a surprising combination given how High Church the Episcopal service is. We meant to meet my parents here, but their GPS steered them wrong, so it was just the two of us trying to figure out which book to sing from and when to kneel. Afterward we stuck around for snacks, met the very friendly priest, and NC asked DH to substitute for him one Sunday he would be gone(!). We've been back once for DH to take notes before he subs next weekend.

Hilltop Community Alliance Church
I had to stay home, recovering from gastroenteritis, but DH and our houseguest drove over with our neighbor to the church where he (the neighbor) plays guitar in their praise band. DH even jammed on the piano, and I.C. played tambourine. I.C. gushed about the friendliness of this little congregation, which would love to have DH back, but I suspect their theology is too conservative for him.

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