In 1967, Pittsburgh Mennonite Church (PMC) began when a visionary young engineer gathered with others to build an urban Mennonite presence in Pittsburgh modeled after the London Mennonite Center where he had worshiped as a graduate student. Sushil Ganguly, has now passed away, but the spirit of journeying and discovery that he helped foster, still stays with PMC today.
Beginning in the early eighties and carrying into the 90’s – PMC’s main mission was offering radical hospitality to those in need. At that time, the North Point Breeze building PMC was using as a house church also contained a number of apartments. International students, refugees, and family members of inmates all were welcomed to lodge at the church and join worship. These were the years of the church as sanctuary.
In 1992, PMC moved to a church building on Murray Avenue in Greenfield. Because the majority of members were young families with growing children, PMC shifted its focus toward supporting and guiding these young people and others into their adult lives. Expansions were made for greater Sunday School capacity, and the church took an active role in supporting the newly founded Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Experience (PULSE), a one-year arts-based urban internship program designed to cultivate young servant leaders with a desire to transform Pittsburgh. PMC also started its Shoulder to Shoulder medical outreach project in Honduras. These were the years of church as nourisher.
Fifteen years later, the PMC body had again expanded beyond its physical capacity. A number of the young adults involved in PULSE had stayed in Pittsburgh over the years, and more and more graduate students and other professionals found a home at PMC. This was a time of great activity for PMC; members were encouraged to join small groups as well as take part in a variety of service projects. Discussion began about seeking a larger building, and in 2009, PMC moved to its current location in Swissvale.
Since then the church has embraced its identity as a theologically diverse, deeply relational community. As people have moved in and out of Pittsburgh for school, jobs, and family, the community has fluctuated in size, but consistently maintained a space of haven and hub - a gathering space for active people seeking to find their way toward faithfulness in their lives.
The pandemic tested the power of the congregation to maintain its sense of belonging and purpose but, by the grace of God we have emerged with greater clarity, a growing congregation, and a clear sense of our priorities. This purpose is focused on cultivating intergenerational, inclusive, supportive community, pursuing creative participatory worship, supporting diverse paths of spiritual growth, and building bridges for peace and justice between the congregation, community, the broader anabaptist movement and the world.
PMC History 2022
Adapted by Dave Swanson