Mission on the Move: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary has been supported by Westminster Church for well over 40 years, usually through an annual $5,000 contribution to fund a scholarship for a seminary student seeking a career in ministry. This mission relationship goes well beyond “writing a check,” however.

Westminster’s lengthy relationship with PTS has included employing many student interns, most recently Gavin Walton who now serves as pastor to Grace Memorial Church in the Hill District. Many other PTS interns have served WPC, usually as youth advisors, and several of our own congregation’s members have served as interns: Dirk Lesnett, who is head pastor at Elfinwild United Presbyterian Church, and David Paul, who is now head pastor at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelienople are two examples.

Over the years Westminster’s relationship with the seminary has nurtured the pastoral calls of many, including Louise Rogers, Jason Freyer, and Cassandra Millis. Many other adult WPC members have attended or graduated from PTS, for a degree or simply for personal education.

Westminster members regularly attend the seminary's various lecture series on topics such as racism, world hunger, theological topics and issues, Bible studies, and the annual World Mission Conference of international missionaries that has been held there for decades. The Sunday morning seminars at Westminster regularly feature seminary professors who present a wide range of thought-provoking topics.

In 2016, Westminster members joined the PTS World Mission Initiative’s mission trip to Israel, organized and facilitated by Westminster’s senior pastor, Jim Gilchrist, and Professor Steven Tuell from PTS.

In addition to our longtime Outreach commitment to a student scholarship, Westminster established another scholarship named for the Rev. Tammy Yeager at the time of her retirement from Westminster, funded by many voluntary donations from church members. The endowed scholarship provides tuition for a Pittsburgh Seminary student each year who demonstrates financial need, as determined by the seminary’s policy, and gives first preference to students sensing a call to pastoral ministry, preferably though not necessarily in the Presbyterian Church. So, imagine two new pastors each year emerging to preach the gospel through Westminster’s relationship with Pittsburgh Theological Seminary!

– Doug Mitchell