The continuing Episcopal congregation at St. David’s, Peters Township, has a new companion as it rebuilds – the people of St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon.
Beginning on the Feast of Pentecost, May 27, St. Paul’s rector, the Rev. Lou Hays, and associate rector, the Rev. Kris Opat McInnes, will also be priests-in-charge at St. David’s.
This comes as part of the diocese’s commitment to continue services at St. David’s after some members of the congregation move to a new location. Other members said they wanted to stay and restore a vibrant Episcopal community.
“We will be welcoming all who want to know and love God. Our focus will be on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who invites us to look beyond our differences and to be reconciled and healed,” said Lou Hays.
Kris McInness, who grew up at St. David’s, is one of many from St. Paul’s who were once members or maintain close connections with the Peters congregation.
“St. David’s is in a season of renewal,” Kris said. “Christians of all ages who seek a place where their souls will be nourished and their convictions respected will find this to be a welcoming community.”
Services on May 27 are scheduled for at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. An informational meeting will take place between services at 9:15 a.m. The church is located at 905 East McMurray Road.
Under an arrangement approved by St. Paul’s vestry, the parish will provide spiritual guidance and other non-financial assistance to St. David’s for the next two years.
“We are not taking over. We will be there to support and encourage them until they can be self-sustaining and we can say goodbye as they continue on their journey,” said Lou.
Lay parishioners from St. Paul’s will be volunteering to help the Peters congregation and the staffs of the two parishes will be cooperating on programs.
St. Paul’s Director of Children’s Ministry, Lisa Brown, and Jennifer Yoon, who directs St. David’s pre-school, have already planned a summer Vacation Bible School. It will be open to local children ages four and up, and take place at St. David’s the mornings of July 30 through August 3.
St. Paul’s provided a similar companionship to Grace Episcopal Church in Mount Washington in the 1980s, when parishioners organized to lead programs at the city church in order to help it grow. A few years later, a priest from St. Paul’s took over at Grace and his former parishioners from Mt. Lebanon again stepped in temporarily to help.
For its part, the Episcopal Diocese will assist St. Paul’s new companionship with St. David’s while helping other parishes as well.
The Board of Trustees approved funds to help St. Paul’s hire an additional priest, the Rev. Michelle Boomgaard, as a full-time assistant rector. She will primarily serve the St. Paul’s congregation while Lou and Kris devote additional time to St. David’s.
The trustees funding is part of a package to place three recently or soon to be ordained clergy in parishes where they can be mentored by seasoned clergy while gaining experience in ministry. In each case, their salary is split between the diocese and the local parish.
“We are so happy that we can invest in our congregations and in our future leaders this way,” said Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr. He added, “I am also happy that the people of St. Paul’s have agreed to invest their time and attention to helping their brothers and sisters at St. David’s move toward a future full of health, vitality, and blessings.”
The diocese was informed in late March by the ACNA congregation at St. David's that some members had voluntarily decided to relocate, even though the diocese encouraged them to stay while it completed a strategic planning process. The courts have ruled the Episcopal Diocese to be the rightful owner of the St. David's property.
Use of St. David’s by day care providers and community groups will continue.