The Spire - September 2021

A monthly column by Senior
Minister J. Douglas Patterson
From the Desk of the
Associate Minister
by Rev. Dr. Susan Cherian
From the President's Pen
Turn, Turn, Turn
by Jon Colburn

Dear Friends,


By now you’ve heard that I’ll be retiring from Smithfield at the end of next August, 2022. The search process for a new minister can be complicated and quite lengthy if not given the proper attention. I am confident, however, that the president of our congregation, Jon Colburn, and our conference minister, Rev. David Ackerman, will provide detailed, visionary guidance and leadership through the journey. I am grateful for them, and I know you are, as well.


When I came to be your pastor in 1998 I had absolutely no idea what was before us. In my   wildest imagination I could not have envisioned 9/11, turbulent political unrest, and a pandemic. But we’re still standing! The Smithfield UCC congregation is stronger than ever! Not, perhaps numerically speaking, but more theologically open, more welcoming, more diverse, and more Courageous. We’ve journeyed far, and people’s lives have been touched and healed along the way - maybe yours. I am so grateful to be a part of this church family!

In the months ahead I look forward to participating in enthusiastic and energizing transition. Please keep Smithfield in your prayers, contribute to the conversation, and love one another boldly! May the Peace of Christ be with you!





Rev. J. Douglas Patterson

Smithfield UCC friends and members, greetings! Earlier today I counted up the number of years I was in school before I started working. It adds up to almost 25 years. A good chunk of time I was a professional student and that explains why September is so important to me. Our church tradition also follows the academic calendar and we often design our Christian Education and other programs around the school year. But, in the middle of this pandemic things look and feel very different.

I’ve been a member of Smithfield United Church of Christ for 21 years and I have served as an associate minister for over 20 of those years. My fond memories of our church include informal talks and laughs with our members, apple and strawberry festivals, music and weekly worship, Christmas and Easter in our sanctuary, and the joy of serving our homebound members. I take pride in our church for being an inclusive church, welcoming all and giving room for all. I look forward to seeing you at church.

Dear Friends,


There is a lot going on at Smithfield United Church of Christ. I trust by now you are all aware of Rev. Douglas Patterson’s retirement plans. His last Sunday in the  pulpit will be May 22, 2022. A celebration of Doug’s ministry at Smithfield is being planned, with a spring date to be announced. At the September Council meeting, Penn West Conference Minister David Ackerman will be presenting an overview of the Search and Call procedures of the United Church of Christ. It is my hope that by late fall, I will be able to introduce to you members of a Pastoral Search Committee. If you would like to learn how the United Church of Christ’s Search and Call process works you may go to: and click the magnifying glass to bring you to the search function. Type “Search and Call” into the box and click search. 


You may also be aware that we MUST replace our boiler. A leak developed in one of the cast iron sections last winter. We were able to patch it and have it last until the end of the heating season. A new boiler is right around $90,000. We explored reconnecting to central steam and a few non-steam options. All were more expensive and would have taken more time than replacing what we have. The new boiler has been ordered. We are in hopes that we have it installed by the opening of the Cold Weather Shelter on November 15. Council will be exploring financing options for this project. Know that part of the plan will be an ASK of the congregation. 


We will return to an 11:00 AM worship start time on Sunday, September 12. There will be a Congregational Meeting on Sunday, October 3, immediately after worship. A budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 will be presented and will need Congregational approval. Please plan to attend. 


As I typed this, the 1965 hit for the Byrds, Turn, Turn, Turn kept running through my head. It is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 put to music. Verse 1 being, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” We are at a changing of seasons in several ways at Smithfield United Church of Christ. I pray that our still speaking God will reveal to us our purpose under the part of heaven we call Pittsburgh. 


As always, 



News from Our
Church Family
  • We mourn the passing of Sophia Tuinstra, who passed away at age 17 on August 31. She was the daughter of Tim and Roxanne Tuinstra. We ask that you please keep Sophia's family in your prayers during this very difficult time.

  • At the June 13 worship service we welcomed Charles James Parsons into the worldwide family of faith through the sacrament of Holy  Baptism. He is the son of Joseph and Erika Parsons.

  • During the August 29 worship service we celebrated the baptism of Brian Senkowicz as we also welcomed him into our congregation as a new member. Brian is the son of Ben and Rebecca Senkowicz.