Pittsburgh Cluster is “Better Together”
As the choir joined voices from neighboring congregations into a rousing rendition of the Turtles’ song “Happy Together,” the cluster of UU churches in the Greater Pittsburgh area joined in their first annual “Cluster Assembly” and voted themselves into being on November 1, 2014.
The day started with an opening worship complete with banner parade and the participation of all of the area clergy. Using the theme “We Are Better Together” they wove their past and future into a story of long-time relationship. First Pittsburgh Assistant Minister Rev. Robin Zucker looked back to 1804 when the Meadville Unitarian Conference was first formed. First Pittsburgh Religious Educator Jennifer Halperin highlighted learning together. The Rev. Renee Waun (who serves four of the cluster churches on a part-time basis) held up their tradition of marching together in the local Pride march. The eighty or so participants spent the rest of the morning attending one of six breakout workshops on various topics, including:
- Anita Mentzer, the Director of UUPLAN (the Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network) was available to meet with activists interested in working with other congregations in the state.
- Representatives from four congregations shared their best Stewardship Practices with interested attendees.
- Another group participated in a worship associate training based on Erika Hewitt’s book The Shared Pulpit and led by Rev. Zucker.
After a lovely Cajun lunch from a local caterer, the eleven congregations voted to affirm the cluster, to adopt their founding structure including a mission statement (see inset) and bylaws. All of the member congregations were represented and (and their founding dates) include:
- UU Congregation of Smithton (1860)
- First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh (1890)
- Allegheny UU Church (1905)
- UU Fellowship of Morgantown (1954)
- First UU Church of Indiana, PA (1958)
- UU Church of the North Hills (1961)
- UU Church of the South Hills (1965)
- East Suburban UU Church (1966)
- UU Church of the Ohio Valley (1976)
- UU Fellowship Ligonier Valley (1988)
- Ginger Hill UU Congregation (2003)
They also elected their first Board of Directors:
- John Graham, East Suburban UU Church
- Michael Hennessy, UU Church of the South Hills
- Pat Jacobson, UU Church of the Ohio Valley
- Midge Miles, UU Church of the North Hills
- Ron Smutny, UU Church of the South Hills
- Kurt Summersgill, First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh
- Mark Tomlinson, Allegheny UU Church