Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

11/3 2011

Shots for Salvation

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One of the biggest complaints I have heard among seminary students throughout the country is that there aren’t enough practical applications between what they learn in class and what they will be doing in their careers. We spend a lot of time talking about our call as though it will take place months or even years from now. Yet, could there be a call and a claim on the daily life we lead now?

When I first arrived at PTS, I was happy to lather a fresh coat of rosy paint on my glasses and immerse myself into the seminary experience. This was my home, my community, and my family. Whether it was because I had spent enough time outside of school or because God had placed some irksome itch into my life, I found I could not be content simply sitting in class. I wanted to be engaged in ministry right now. I wanted a place to practice the things my brain was being filled with all day long.

One of the really great things about Pittsburgh is that there are literally hundreds of church within a 20-30 minute driving distance from the Seminary that represent a wide variety of beliefs, cultures, and missions; yet, all of these churches are a part of the kaleidoscope that is God’s vision for the church. When you’re exposed to such a wide variety of church experiences, you tend to believe that God can work in any situation. A friend of mine and I decided to begin a Bible study that takes place in a bar. The Bible study started out with a few old friends from high school who happened to be living close by and getting together over a brew to discuss Scripture. Over time, word of the Bible study began to reach folks in our own community of East Liberty and especially the community on the South Side of Pittsburgh who had yet to find a church community.

As time went on, I was blessed to come into contact with Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community – a new church development that opens its doors to everyone, from the bar-dwellers to the homeless. It was through this church that Shots of Salvation, as our Bible Study is called, came into contact with the owner of a small tavern on the South Side of Pittsburgh. This man was looking for a way to offer up space in his bar for the church’s use; we were looking for a location for our Bible study that would be open and available to the myriad of twenty-something single people who live in Pittsburgh and gather naturally in the area of town where every other store-front is a bar. Shots of Salvation and the Birmingham Bridge Tavern have begun to serve as a safe space for a wide variety of people to feel at home, to find commonality in spite of differences, and to praise God openly, honestly, and with humility. I thank God for this opportunity to bridge what I learn in the classroom with the reality of people’s daily lives. Every Tuesday night, I get the opportunity to see a piece of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and that is what is going to stick with me after I graduate.


Middler, M.Div/M.S.W.


10/27 2011

Community through Food

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Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is located on a city block that borders Pittsburgh’s East Liberty and Highland Park neighborhoods. Though our neighborhood has seen its ups and downs, it is experiencing a boom of local small businesses moving into our once vacant storefronts and consequently bringing the people back to the East End. East Liberty is becoming a flourishing area which exemplifies some of the greatest things about living in the city: culture, food, and entertainment.

Our neighborhood is filled with great food! We have Ethiopian food at Abay restaurant, the best Thai food in the city at the Smiling Banana Leaf, Gourmet burgers at BRGR, French cuisine at Paris 66, and the list goes on. My friends and I frequently take Saturday morning walks down to the Food Glorious Food bakery for fresh pastries, with a stop at Tazza D’oro coffee shop for our morning cup of java.

Food brings people together. We cannot survive without it. One of the great things about being at PTS is not only the great restaurants near by, but the connection we make between food and community. I cannot count the amount of times that I have gathered around the table with friends, classmates, professors, and administrators in our neighborhood restaurants. PTS not only fosters our academic needs but also provides community within the Seminary while encouraging us to go out and be a part of our East Liberty community as faithful patrons to our local restaurants (and our neighbors who run them).


Senior, M.Div Student


10/20 2011

No One is an Island

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Coming to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was a huge adjustment for me. It wasn’t just an issue about being away from home. In all honesty, it was an issue about how I was outside of my comfort zone. I had my own personal circle of friends. We would spend a lot of time together. Togetherness was a part of that plan.

When my wife and I moved to Pittsburgh (in the middle of the second term of my first year), I was losing close-knit relationships with my friends from home. It quickly became apparent to me that no one truly was an island unto themselves. I needed to reach out and make new friends.

Of course there was apprehension at first. After all, I was worried about looking like a fool or saying something stupid. What if I could not find anyone that shared my interests? It was then, at that point, that I decided that I was going about this the wrong way. I was not here just because I wanted to be here. I felt the call of God in my life. I was sure that God had called me to this place at this time. Why, then, was I worried about being happy here?

The good news came when I finally let go and trusted God to fulfill God’s promises. God opened up to me some of the best friends I have ever had the honor of knowing. The idea of community is talked about often here on campus. People worry about this idea and want community to be this important idea. The good news is that it really is! The love of Christ abounds here. God has formed this place to be a community of believers and friends and we can be thankful for that.

Sam, senior MDiv student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

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