ShareThis Page

Reunion Presbyterian Church welcomes new pastor

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Janis Gamble | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
The Rev. Sue Washburn recently was welcomed as pastor of Reunion Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant.

Reunion Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant recently welcomed a new pastor — the Rev. Sue Washburn.

Washburn, a Delmont native who prefers the title of “Pastor Sue”, aims to contribute a wealth of Biblical insight to connect with the church's members and benefit their lives, she said.

“(Reunion Presbyterian) has a terrific group of people, very loving and caring, and I'm excited to be part of their ministry,” Washburn said.

The pulpit at Reunion Presbyterian Church — part of the Redstone Presbytery — became vacant at the end of June when the church's lay pastor, the Rev. Paul Rankin, left to attend the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.

Rankin decided to follow a calling of God to attend the seminary school, said Liz Montgomery, a church elder who is also clerk of session, the church's governing body.

“Reunion is a small congregation of 62 friendly, caring members that can only afford a part-time minister,” she said.

Washburn's first Sunday at Reunion was Oct. 6, Montgomery said.

“Jesus told a parable that states, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it,” Montgomery said.

“Susan is one of those fine rare pearls who God so graciously sent to His congregation at Reunion, and she and her family have truly become part of our church family,” she said.

In 2012, Washburn graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where she earned a Master of Divinity degree.

She was ordained as a minister of the word and sacrament (Teaching Elder) on Sept. 29 of this year at her home church, Poke Run Presbyterian Church.

Washburn — a 1985 Greensburg-Salem High School graduate — also earned a degree in communications in 1989 from the University of Pittsburgh, and she has conducted freelance writing for Christian publications.

She also possesses what she considers to be a valuable sense of familiarity to the ever-evolving technologies of social media.

Such knowledge is typified by Washburn's friendship with the Rev. Jafali Asidi, who serves with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian — Blantyre Synod — in the southern region of the Republic of Malawi, a landlocked country in the continent's southeastern area.

Last fall, Asidi visited America as part of the Presbyterian Church's worldwide network, and he stayed with Washburn and her family during that time, while she was serving as a pastoral assistant at McKeesport Presbyterian Church.

Though Asidi and his fellow Malawians only have use of electricity for roughly two hours daily, Facebook allows Washburn to maintain regular contact with him, she said.

“One of the things I hope to do is bring skills as communicator not only to Mt. Pleasant, but to reach all of Presbyterian Church (USA),” Washburn said. “We need to be using the latest tools, the latest language, even, to reach out to our community.”

To earn a Master of Divinity degree, Washburn devoted 300 hours as chaplain in the ward for patients suffering from cancer at UPMC Presbyterian in Shadyside.

“That allowed me to see God at work in a large number of people, and it also showed me how interconnected our well-being is to our spiritual, emotional and our relational selves,” she said.

Washburn also points to her family lineage in church leadership, as both of her great-grandfathers, Percy Burtt and Oakley Washburn, were pastors, and her grandmother, Jane Washburn, was a huge influence and a member of session at Delmont Presbyterian Church.

Jim Moon, who serves on Reunion Presbyterian's pulpit committee, affirmed that one thing that made Washburn stand out was her skill at communicating her faith and her vision for the future of the church and Presbyterian Church USA.

“I think we're very fortunate to have her, I think we're looking forward to working with her and seeing what direction the church takes with her,” Moon said.

Washburn is married to Matthew Thornton, and the couple has two daughters: Sarah, 18; and Abigail, 15.

For more information, visit and

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 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.