ShareThis Page

Hughes enjoyed time as interim leader at Christ Church Fox Chapel

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The Rev. Connie Hughes, Assistant Rector at the Christ Church in Fox Chapel.
Jan Pakler | for The Herald
The Rev. Connie Hughes, Assistant Rector at the Christ Church in Fox Chapel.

The Rev. Connie Hughes likened her time as Pastor-in-Charge at Christ Church Fox Chapel to running a marathon.

She was promoted last April from part-time deacon to interim leader of the Anglican church along Squaw Run Road East after its rector, Tom Phillips, moved out of state.

“It hasn't always been easy but it's been a tremendous experience,” said Hughes, a resident of Sewickley. “I went quickly into a more than full-time position and all its challenges while navigating for a new rector.”

A deacon for four years, Hughes was abruptly catapulted into the role when Phillips resigned early for family reasons. In the nine months it took to solidify a choice for a new rector — Alex Shuttleworth will officially be named to the post at the end of the month — Hughes said her charge was to “continue to be the church, to worship and minister.

“It's what you have to do while you're waiting,” she said.

As her time in charge winds down, excitement for the next chapter heats up — for both herself and the church.

“I believe that Alex is the man to lead us into new times,” she said.

Hughes, a native of Pittsburgh's Edgewood neighborhood, plans to slow her pace and divvy her energy between preaching and playing with her grandchildren, seven of whom live next door to her Civil War-era Victorian home.

“I also like fiber arts like rug hooking,” she said. “Maybe I'll even get a bit of exercise in too.”

Pastoring actually came as a second career to Hughes, who earned her bachelor's degree in Education at Skidmore College. She taught middle school English and history and then earned a masters in counseling from Duquesne University before working the past 14 years to help people through trauma, addiction or depression.

“I used to have private practice and then started working within the churches,” she said.

A stint helping homeless people at the Washington City Mission made her hungry to learn more about the mission of the Bible.

“I realized I didn't understand the doctrine. There was a stirring in me to know more,” she said.

She got her feet wet with a course about the New Testament from the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge. Hughes said she came alive with those studies.

“The professors there were humble, dedicated and full of enthusiasm,” she said. “Their person and their beliefs were integrated and I wanted more of that.”

Hughes earned a master of divinity in 2010 and was hired shortly after graduation by Christ Church Fox Chapel.

Congregation member Connie Guggenheimer said she appreciates the effort Hughes' has shown to the church.

“It's a multi-faceted kind of job, from ministry to sermons to administrative duties,” Guggenheimer said. “She has performed admirably and always been available for people.”

Hughes said her time in leadership has proved a rich experience.

For the most part, her duties of day-to-day business were assisted by the help of “wonderful deacons.”

Responsibility for weekly services and community outreach can be tiring, but the spiritual side is inspiring, she said.

“I had never baptized a baby, married a couple or buried someone. In the last year, I've had them all,” she said.

“The basic learning of each ceremony and the attention to detail, it's exciting. When you get to be the one looking into the eyes of a newly married couple or weeping with a family, it's electric.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.