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A place for the spirit, a place for the arts, a place to begin your life's journey, a place for community, a place where all of God's children are welcome, a place for you.

Monthly Newsletter

June 2014

Photo - Chris Siewers Photography


KABOOM Playground Project

200 Volunteers Improve Pittsburgh Kids’ Lives & Futures with Play 

Partners Join Forces to Create a New Playground at Bethany House Academy

More than 200 volunteers from Bethany House Academy, United Methodist Church Union, the non-profit KaBOOM! (@kaboom) and the Pittsburgh community joined forces on Saturday, June 14th, to give area kids the childhood they deserve by building a new playground at Bethany House Academy. The design is based on children’s drawings created at a special design event in April. 

A playground is more than a playground. It’s a brain-expander, friend-maker, and muscle-builder. Play is central to a child’s ability to grow into a productive adult. It can transform children from sedentary, bored and solitary to physically, mentally and socially active. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has been dedicated to the bold goal of ensuring that all children get the balance of active play they need to become healthy and successful adults because #playmatters.
Pittsburgh, which is a Playful City USA community, understands that play—in all its forms—is a powerful thing. The new playground will bring more than 200 kids in Pittsburgh one step closer to having the childhood they deserve. Currently, there are limited safe play areas for toddlers and preschoolers. We are committed to offering a safe place to play for all God’s children!
This is the 10th in a series of playground construction projects in the Pittsburgh area that received funding through an $800,000 grant from The Heinz Endowments. Through this partnership, more children will have the joyful childhood they deserve. The Heinz Endowments supports KaBOOM! in promoting and protecting a child’s right to active play at home, at school and in the community.

KaBOOM! is the national non-profit dedicated to the bold new goal of ensuring that all children, particularly the 16 million American children living in poverty, get the balance of active play they need to become healthy and successful adults. KaBOOM! has been a powerful champion for play since its founding in 1996, working with partners to build, improve and open more than 15,000 playgrounds, engage more than 1,000,000 volunteers and serve more than 6,600,000 children. KaBOOM! creates and catalyzes great places to play, inspires, empowers and leads play advocates, and educates and elevates the societal conversation about the importance of play in children’s lives. For more information, visit or follow the conversation on why #playmatters at or

The United Methodist Church Union
The United Methodist Church Union’s mission is to serve as a catalyst to build strong vibrant congregations and agencies in the Pittsburgh region, seeking the transformation of lies and communities.
The Heinz Endowments
The Heinz Endowments supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center for learning and educational excellence, and a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.
The Buhl Foundation
The mission of the Buhl Foundation is to create community legacies by leveraging its resources to encourage people and organizations to dream, to innovate and to take action.

Fourth of July Open House

Our doors were open on July 4th when Calvary friends and members welcomed fireworks-goers and Allegheny West neighbors to come by for some refreshments and to visit the Tiffany sanctuary. Thank you to everyone that helped to make this event a huge success. It was a great day spending time with friends and meeting new people. A wonderful day was had by all!

"Thanks for all the awesome help, guys!"  - Brian Burns

Jane Johnson

Anyone who is familiar with the Calvary congregation knows the name "Jane Johnson". There was a lovely article about Jane in the Northside Chronicle recently. For those of you who have not had a chance to see a copy of that local newspaper, the entire article has been included in this month's newsletter.
The Northside Chronicle
John Canning

Jane's Tree

While wandering through the Northside during this crazy spring of 2014 it was interesting to see how the sporadic weather shifts effected when trees and bulbs would transform the landscape from winter's last grey days to scenes of green leaves and pastel blossoms. The one tree which is a sure sign of springtime, is the magnificent pink dogwood in the midst of the 800 block of Western Avenue. I know it as "Jane's Tree" and it speaks to me of community revitalization. Every year Jane's tree is more beautiful than ever. It certainly was this year, and it made me think how fortunate it was for that skinny sapling that it came into the hands of Jane Johnson in the summer of 1963.
That Dogwood and Jane Johnson are both symbols of survivors in an urban setting that, for many years, was not too friendly to trees at all nor to urbanists that were committed to city living.
Jane Ford Johnson, presently a resident of The Allegheny apartment complex on the west side of Allegheny Center has a terrific story to tell about saving trees, helping kids, raising a family, and preserving a congregation and a community. Jane was a tree tender long before it was fashionable. She was a community activist when many of her neighbors in the 1960s were heading out of town. She and a few compatriots managed to hold the Calvary Methodist church together when other Northside congregations were closing up shop.
A few weeks ago I enjoyed an enlightening and long overdue visit with Jane. She described her many residences in different sections of the Northside. In her lifetime Jane has lived in Brighton Heights, Calbride, Central Northside, and Manchester.
As a youngster her family lived in the community we now call Perry Hilltop, where she played in and about the windowless remnant of Brashear's original observatory. In 1936, one of the lowest points of the Great Depression, Jane graduated from Allegheny High School, attended the Pittsburgh Academy, where she met and, shortly thereafter, married Ross Johnson.
By the early 1950s Jane and Ross and their rowing family settled in the community that is now called Allegheny West.
With urban redevelopment plans to level large sections of the Northside, Jane played a pivotal role in organizing the community, property owners and tenants alike, to block such stupid initiatives. Jane has always been an activist - a doer. I first met Jane in the late 60s as she was overseeing the hanging of a memorial lamp in the alter area of Calvary Methodist church to honor Cora Allion, a great soul of that congregation.
A year or so later Jane and I were neighbors and coworkers in the process of community restoration. Jane was the Jane Jacobs of Allegheny West. Looking back on those decades in Allegheny West I recall Jane as the tree tender, the keeper of the neighborhood story, the advocate for historic preservation and the stalwart of a congregation who kept singing as well as flipping pancakes and mashing potatoes. And so, every spring, when that Dogwood at 833 Western Avenue is in full bloom, it is, to me, a wonderful reminder of a great Northside champion.

2014 Annual Conference

"I had the opportunity to attend this year's WPAUMC Annual Conference in Grove City. First of all, I would like to thank Calvary for giving me the opportunity to go as its Lay Member representative. I was able to see first-hand the inner workings of the United Methodist Church. It was quite educational and eye-opening, and I would recommend that everyone have the opportunity to attend at least once. Overall, I was left feeling very blessed to be a part of the congregation at Calvary United Methodist Church."
- Karen Ferguson

The theme of this year's conference was "Drawn Deeper", and it emphasized the need to be Drawn Deeper beneath surface issues and beyond ourselves to seek and follow God’s will in our lives.

If you would like to read the official news and a recap of this year's conference, please refer to the following link:
Opening Ceremony
The Pittsburgh District enters the Plenary during the Opening Ceremony
The Crowd
Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk and Bishop Thomas Bickerton
Bishop Thomas Bickerton
The Plenary
Youth Delegation (This is the section that I sat in along with Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk. In fact, I think that's my elbow in the row behind the boy in the back.  - Karen Ferguson)
Rev. Stephanie Gottschalk alongside the new missionaries during the prayer and blessing for them.
UMCOR Kit Collection - Members brought 2,277 kits for UMCOR to the Mission Barn drop-off, including 1,346 health kits, 459 school kits, 234 birthing kits, 96 cleaning buckets, 85 sewing kits, 48 layettes, and 9 bedding kits.
UMCOR Kit Collection - Members brought 2,277 kits for UMCOR to the Mission Barn drop-off, including 1,346 health kits, 459 school kits, 234 birthing kits, 96 cleaning buckets, 85 sewing kits, 48 layettes, and 9 bedding kits.
Congregations and individuals from across the Conference brought donations of shoes that will be given to those in need or re-purposed. The donated shoes are purchased by a nonprofit, providing funds for both the Erie UM Alliance's ministry to the homeless and All God's Children Ministries, which helps those living with disabilities.
Congregations and individuals from across the Conference brought donations of shoes that will be given to those in need or re-purposed. The donated shoes are purchased by a nonprofit, providing funds for both the Erie UM Alliance's ministry to the homeless and All God's Children Ministries, which helps those living with disabilities.

News & Announcements

Hospitality Opportunity - Greeters & Ushers
Message from Kenny Elliott

Being an usher is one of the most important ministries at Calvary. You are the first friendly face that greets visitors and members Sunday mornings.

If you are an usher or interested in becoming an usher, please let me know your schedule for the rest of the summer (724.747.7467). If you have work or travel schedules that keep you away on many Sundays or don't know your schedule until a week or two ahead of time, you can still usher. I will be glad to fit you in as your schedule permits or call on you if we need a substitute.

And, if we have a number of ushers willing to serve, you may not have to serve more than once every month or two months. I am hoping to put together a schedule with alternating usher teams, and I’ll send that out for each quarter.

- Kenny

Disaster Response Update: Elk County Flooding
Early Response Teams are needed to help with the mucking out and stabilization of these homes. Individuals who are not part of a team may call and be put on a list to be paired with other volunteers. Reverend Roger Peterson, pastor of Trinity UMC in Ridgeway, has said that space is available for overnight volunteers to come with a sleeping bag or air mattress for 2-3 day efforts, and the church will assist with their needs as much as they can. So far, one-day teams have been very effective working 9am - 3pm. To schedule volunteers, contact the Trinity UMC office at 814.772.5212.

Audio/Visual Volunteers Needed
Are you interested in learning how to operate the audio/visual systems here at Calvary? Are you interested in getting involved in the music program at Calvary but feel like you don't have the time? Come and learn how to operate the sound board to make sure our church services sound great, or learn how to run the projector for videos and slides for Praise Band. You can serve as little or as often as your schedule permits. Please see Brian Burns for more details.

Feed the Sheep
Sponsors are needed for the months of July and August. If you would like to host a fellowship luncheon please see Doug Lucas, Clayton Harris, or Mike Schnitgen. Two sponsors are needed per Sunday, $35.00 per sponsor.

The Daily Bread
Calvary Sponsors The Daily Bread at New Hope every 2nd Thursday of each and every month. If you are interested in helping physically or financially please let us know. It can be a group project or an individual donation of time; we are always looking for help. If you are interested in helping please call Audrey Jennings at 412.335.3559 or email her at

Calvary UMC Newsletter
The Calvary UMC Newsletter will be distributed twice a month. The first, more detailed, newsletter will be sent out at the beginning of each month. The second newsletter will contain only important Church News and the Church Calendar. This second, abridged, newsletter will be sent out around the 15th of each month. If you have something that you would like to be highlighted in an upcoming newsletter please see Karen Ferguson or email her at

Small Groups


Holy Book Club
The Holy Book Club is currently on Summer Break, but will return in the Fall.
Sunday Mornings at 9:30am
Location: Calvary UMC Parlor

Praise Band
Sunday Mornings at 9:30am

Location: Calvary UMC Sanctuary
The Praise Team presents two or three contemporary songs to open each worship service. All songs are chosen to encourage congregational singing and participation. Some tunes are based on well-known hymns with a contemporary twist, while others are original tunes by contemporary Christian artists. Guitar and piano accompany this group. See Brian Burns for more details or if you are interested in joining the Worship Team.

Prayer Circle
Sunday Mornings from 10:15am to 10:45am

Location: Church Union Office (Next to Rev. Larry's Office)
See Ellie Laws for more details.

Alcoholics Anonymous
Sunday Nights from 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Location: Calvary UMC Fellowship Hall


Gamblers Anonymous
Every 2nd Monday of the Month from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Location: Calvary UMC Fellowship Hall


Renewal Choir
Renewal Choir is currently on Summer Break, but will return in the Fall.

Tuesday Nights at 6:45pm
Location: Calvary UMC Sanctuary
The Renewal Choir sings traditional anthems on Sunday mornings as well as supporting Calvary special events and observances. The choir is open to anyone age 14 and up, no auditions required. The group presents a wide variety of musical styles from September through May. Choir members actively participate in worship and may be found assisting during such times as Communion, Advent and special services. See Brian Burns for more details or if you are interested in joining.

Tuesday Crew - A Young Adults Gathering

Tuesday Crew is currently on Summer Break, but will return in the Fall.
Tuesday Nights from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Location: To Be Determined
For more information contact Kenny Elliott at 724.747.7467 or



Adult Bible Study
Adult Bible Study is currently on Summer Break, but will return in the Fall.
Wednesday Nights at 6:30pm

Location: Calvary UMC Parlor

Iron City Square Dancing
Wednesday Nights from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Location: Calvary UMC Fellowship Hall



Narcotics Anonymous
Thursday Nights from 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Location: Calvary UMC Fellowship Hall


Historical Tidbits

The Organ in Worship - Historically

In the early Christian churches were no organs used. Christians considered musical instruments of secular nature and not suitable for the church. Following the tradition of the Jewish Synagogue, the only instrument used was the human voice (which is done until today in most Eastern Orthodox churches). Organists in those days could be considered early colleagues of theatre organists.

The first pipe organs in churches started to appear around the year 800 and 100 years later old manuscripts mention the use of the pipe organ in worship services. Now, in addition to the traditional church choir also instrumental music could be heard in churches.

It started with Monasteries, which is not a big surprise considering the fact that in those days only Monks were highly educated and knowledgeable and able to build and play such a complicated instrument. As people built large cathedrals with relatively primitive tools, they also built pipe organs of significant size. The Monastery of Winchester England (980) built and organ (400 pipes) that could be played with two (!) monks at the same time, with their own console, but only when 70 monks (!) would work as wind makers. The music was apparently so loud that it could be heard in the entire city (don't forget: there was no traffic noise as we have today).

In the 13th Century the organ was a generally accepted instrument in the churches. Renowned theologians such as Gilles de Zamorra and Thomas van Aquino admired the pipe organ because it would elevate the soul, adjacent to the other instruments that were considered not suitable because of the bad reputation of the traveling musicians, troubadours, that played those instruments. It seems that the early history of the organ was forgotten and/or forgiven.

After the Reformation of the 16th Century, many protestant churches in Europe followed the tradition of the early Christian church and threw out all instrumental music. But as a new element in the worship services vigorous congregational singing of the Psalms was introduced, led by a lead singer while the organ kept silent.

Organs were owned by the government and were played regularly on weekdays, when the church was normally open. Before and after the worship services the organ was played as well, because the organist was employed by the city and not the church. However, he was urged to play Psalms instead of secular melodies.
The lead singers had a hard time keeping up with sometimes a few thousand people, singing with all their heart. Therefore, in the 17th Century the assistance of the organists was required in most churches, to lead the singing of the congregation. For some organists, this was experienced as such an increase of responsibility that they asked for an increase in salary... In other cases this was reason to modify or expand the organ in order to make it more suitable for the accompaniment of the singing.

In some situations an impressive organ with an marvelous Baroque façade would not only be great for accompaniment, it also displayed the prosperity of the city.
The pipe organ was back in the church and it has been there ever since. Lead singers were not needed anymore and the enthusiastic singers were in the end accompanied by organs only.

2014 Church Calendar


Sunday Morning Worship
Sunday Mornings at 11:00am
Sunday School is offered for children. Fellowship with a light lunch follows worship every Sunday. Communion is held the first Sunday of each month. Everyone is welcome at Calvary's table.



Saturday, July 12th from 3:00pm to 9:00pm
Location: West Park
3:00-6:00pm: Under the tent in West Park near the corner of West North and Resaca. Join in the fun kid's craft tables, check out local artists wares, learn about ways to care for yourself, enjoy the banjo music, and partake of the delicious food. 
6:00-9:00pm: Bicycle Heaven ($10.00 Admission) - Dance as the DJ spins tunes, visit local food and drink trucks, check out the on-site art studios and the tables of local artists.
For more details call 412.323.1163 or email

Upcoming Mission Opportunity
Hymns for the Homeless

Saturday, July 19th at 6:00pm
Location: Central Highlands Community UMC, 100 Timothy Dr, Elizabeth, PA 15037
Join in a night of raising up voices, both to sing some favorite hymns and hear those of the homeless. Admission for the evening is either non-perishable food items or a new blanket. Contact Central Highlands Community UMC at 412-751-0511 for further details.

Upcoming Mission Opportunity
Upshur County WV VIM Team

Week of July 20th thru 26th
Location: West Virginia (WV Wesleyan College)
Travel to West Virginia with Team Leader Rick Nelson. The team will stay at West Virginia Wesleyan College and work with Upshur Cooperative Parish with a mix of light repairs and ministry support. Estimated cost is $400. Please contact the Calvary church office via email for an application if you are interested in attending.

Committee Meeting

Thursday, July 24th at 6:00pm
Location: Calvary UMC Chapel


Upcoming Mission Opportunity
WPA VIM Team For WV Sandy Relief

Week of August 3rd thru 9th
Location: West Virginia
The team will travel to areas of West Virginia that are in need of Sandy Recovery attention with Team Leader Jessica Speers. Estimated cost is $320 which includes room and board at a local church. Cooks are also needed. Please contact the Calvary church office via email for an application if you are interested in attending.

Calvary Vacation Bible School
"Pack Up With Jesus"

August 11th, 12th, and 13th (Monday thru Wednesday) from 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Location: Calvary UMC
A light meal will be served each evening from 5:30-6:00pm. Watch for more details!

Church Council Meeting

Thursday, August 28th at 6:00pm
Location: Calvary UMC Chapel


Pittsburgh Parish Family Picnic
Sunday, September 14th
Location: Riverview Park Chapel Pavilion
This year's family picnic will be held at the Riverview Park Chapel Pavilion where it has been held in years past. Hotdogs, hamburgers, and drinks will be provided; so, start thinking about your favorite side dish or dessert to make, bring, and share. Lots of fun for everyone!! More details will be provided closer to the date of the picnic.

Committee Meeting

Thursday, September 25th at 6:00pm
Location: Calvary UMC Chapel 


Church Council Meeting
Thursday, October 23rd at 6:00pm
Location: Calvary UMC Chapel


No Events Scheduled At This Time


Handel's Messiah Sing-Along Concert
Location: Calvary UMC Sanctuary
Details to be announced at a later date.

Candlelight Christmas Eve
Wednesday, December 24th
Location: Calvary UMC Sanctuary
7:00pm: Music
7:30pm: Service

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