Important Letter from Pastor Charissa

Dear friends,


It’s been almost 2 ½ years since I came here in this wacky experiment: Two churches sharing a pastor to form a creative partnership. Nobody was quite sure what would come of it, but here we are all this time later and it’s working!


Thus far, I have been here on what is called a “temporary supply” contract. This is what’s used for pastors in unusual and/or uncertain positions. Maybe the church can’t afford to call a full time or even ¾ time pastor. Maybe the church is in a weird transition time. In this case, I was brought in under temporary supply because nobody was sure what was coming next for Emsworth and St. Andrew’s. Would the partnership last? Were the churches just going to merge? Would this new pastor stick around? Would you even like her if she did? Was this sustainable?


The sessions of both churches met together at the beginning of May and the resounding answer to the question “Is this working?” was yes. The sessions have voted to bring forth to the congregations the recommendation to change my terms from “temporary” to “installed”. Logistically, this changes little. It won’t cost the churches any more. It won’t change my hours or availability or benefits. It simply means that I have no plans on going away any time soon and that the church is confident that what we are doing is no longer “temporary.” We want to alleviate any fear that this isn’t going to last or that I’m going to head off to another call in the next year or two.


Emsworth has been through alot of hard transition in the past 7-10 years and St. Andrew’s hasn’t had a long term installed pastor since 1974. It’s completely understandable that there are feelings of fear that any pastor might only stick around for a couple years. I want to make sure you all hear this loud and clear: I’m here. I plan on being here for quite some time. It is my intention to stay here and feel out this new season with you all and I don’t see that being a short term thing.


Should the congregations agree with the sessions and vote “yes” on June 2nd to making me your installed pastor, we will have a joint worship service on September 29th in the afternoon. At this worship service, I will be officially installed as the pastor of St. Andrew’s and as the pastor at Emsworth. At this worship service, we will also spend time celebrating and honoring the commitment to partnership that both congregations have made. This is the first time a double service like this has been done in Pittsburgh Presbytery, so once again, we find ourselves pioneers in this business of figuring out what it means to be creative about church.


This has been and continues to be a great model of creative ministry that we want to take time to acknowledge that! This isn’t working because of me. It’s working because of the love, creativity, and flexibility that you all have contributed.


Dear ones, I so look forward to seeing what the next few years have in store for us all!



Pastor Charissa