M.Div. Grad Now Nurse is Washing Feet Physically or Metaphorically

Lisa Renee Sayre ’10 grew up in southern West Virginia and earned her bachelor’s in English literature from her home state’s Shepherd University, in Shepherdstown. In 2007 she moved to Pittsburgh to pursue her M.Div. at Pittsburgh Seminary, where she received the highest merit scholarship the Seminary offers. And three years later, she graduated with multiple awards recognizing her work in biblical studies and New Testament Greek.

Immediately following graduation, Lisa participated in a religious community called The House of St. Michael the Archangel, which focused on studying the early writings of the Church. Starting her own career in ministry in 2012, she served on the leadership team of a Mennonite church plant in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh—Shalom: A Peace Church Community of Brother Francis and Sister Clare.

While co-pastoring Shalom, Lisa worked bi-vocationally—as a nursing student at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing and, eventually, as a registered nurse. She’s pursued several kinds of nursing since starting that part of her career. First, she served as an oncology nurse at Shadyside Hospital. Then she transitioned to working in home health, which saw her traveling throughout the city’s East End. Her current position finds her working in an addictions treatment clinic on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

“I love being a nurse,” Lisa says. “It’s one of the things that make me feel most alive. We Christians know the story about Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet. There aren’t a lot of places in the world where you can actually wash feet for a living, but that’s what I’ve gotten to do as a nurse.”

For Lisa, nursing is also an avenue through which she can pursue God’s work of justice. For the past year, she has been active in the effort to unionize workers at UPMC. Her move to addictions nursing is also a part of this trajectory in her calling.

“Advocacy is a big concept in nursing,” Lisa notes. “We say that the nurse’s primary job is to be an advocate—for our patients and our communities. Whether we’re speaking up among our colleagues, advocating for patients with physicians, or standing up to the hospital system, our job is always to do the best we can by our neighbors—and get the best for them.”

“It can be hard,” she reflects, “because it’s never a happy thing to have to have a nurse.” But nursing is Lisa’s calling and her passion. It’s an avenue through which she conducts her ministry. And aren’t we glad she does . . . .

These days, when Lisa’s not physically or metaphorically washing feet, she can be found hanging out at Pittsburgh Mennonite Church, where she helps organize Sunday worship. Living in a row house just a few blocks from the church, she enjoys working in the local community garden and singing in the neighborhood choir.

MDiv grad nurse in Pittsburgh