East Liberty Presbyterian Church
116 S. Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Karl and I attended East Liberty Presbyterian's 11 a.m. service Sunday morning in keeping with Karl's resolution to go to church this year. The service was very similar to Shadyside Presbyterian's, with a few exceptions:
(1) There was only one special song sung by the chancel choir (and I didn't like it: the choir wasn't nearly as well-trained as Shadyside's, plus the piece was a modern, and hence, less sonorous arrangement of the text).
(2) There was a 5-minute children's sermon in the midst of the service (a practice I have mixed feelings about, though this particular one wasn't so bad).
(3) The reverend made announcements as if he knew members of the congregation personally (at Shadyside, it was much more impersonal and generally applicable).
Overall, East Liberty was a tad less polished than Shadyside, but somehow, that made it all the more likeable.
One interesting note: the church organist for this Sunday happened to be a 13-year-old student of Hope Academy (who, I'm sure, is not on the payroll). Because the organist is almost always hidden from view, I only realized this after I got suspicious during the hymns and checked the program.
If you have ever listened to an experienced organist play hymns in a large, reverberating sanctuary, you may have noticed that such an organist pays no heed to what he or she hears (e.g., the congregation's singing). Of necessity, the organist must simply play in a steady tempo without adjusting for auditory signals. It's pretty difficult for an organist to train him- or herself to do this, but it's really the only way. No matter what happens, the congregation and the actual sounds of the organ will always be a beat or two behind the organist's fingers striking the keys. That's just the nature of sound! Anyway, on the performance pieces, our 13-year-old was rather spectacular, but during the hymns, her inexperience showed.
Regardless, the service was nice, and the sermon was really quite good. Also, the sanctuary was simply breathtaking. It is quite large, with very high ceilings. If you are seated facing the front of the sanctuary, you have a marvelous view of some elegant stained glass (a dying art) and extraordinary stonework. I believe the Cathedral of Hope (the current building for the ELPC) was completed around 1935 or so. It's worth a look just for the architecture.
Another good church! Next week, we may check out St. Paul's Catholic Diocese, so be looking out for that blog!