ShareThis Page

New pastor settles in at Sewickley Presbyterian

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Russ Mowry and wife Jessica pose for a photo inside Sewickley Presbyterian Church Monday, July 1, 2013. Mowry recently was hired as the church's new Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries.

The Rev. Russ Mowry's potential as a mathematician just wasn't adding up.

After spending four years earning a bachelor's degree in math from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, his future plans ended up taking him down a path involving pulpits and pews instead of percentiles and prime numbers.

That road eventually led him to Sewickley Presbyterian Church, where he has worked as the new associate pastor for youth and family ministries for several months.

He replaces the Rev. Scott Hoffman, who accepted a job as senior pastor at Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Md., after six years here.

Mowry said he had attended church his whole life, and in high school started asking himself, “Why are we here? What's existence?

“And, I began to look for the answers,” said Mowry, 31.

Mowry said he was good at math and figured he study it in college. But, he didn't like it very much.

After college, he found out his passion was in teaching and preaching. He soon accepted a position as youth intern at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, staying for two years.

But, it wasn't until he went on a mission trip with youth that he realized ministry work was his future.

On the trip to Tijuana, Mexico — where he also got to know Jessica, a church volunteer who would become his wife — participants built seven houses in seven days.

He said he saw the lives of the people there change, and he saw the change in the students as they developed relationships with the people there and learned from them.

After than trip, Mowry earned his master's degree in divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey; worked at a church in Manhattan, N.Y.; and he and Jessica moved to Oakland, Calif., when he ran a ministry at Stanford University, and also helped develop a church there. He also led a youth ministry in Alameda, Calif., while Jessica worked on her medical residency in pediatrics.

Since coming to Sewickley, Mowry, about 30 teens and three other adults recently returned from a week-long mission trip to Sandy Hook, N.J., to help Superstorm Sandy victims.

“That's one of the things I love about this church — it's very ‘missional,'” Mowry said. “They are good at going out to help the community.”

He and Jessica said they are committed to working in the community in which they live to bring people together.

“It's not only serving somewhere for an hour and then coming back. You're working from the inside out instead of the outside in,” he said.

Some of the ways of doing that is by serving Center for Hope in Ambridge — by not only helping at the center, but mentoring some of the kids, inviting them to events and bringing them on mission trips; having a community garden; or offering classes on nutrition and resume-writing at the church, he said.

Mowry, who has worked in churches with memberships from 100 to 5,000, said he couldn't have written a better match for him and his family than Sewickley Presbyterian Church.

Temporary associate pastor Rev. Brenda Barnes said the Mowrys are great additions to the community.

“Their enthusiasm for being here is incredible testimony to how the Lord works,” she said.

The Rev. Kevin Long, senior pastor, agreed.

“We couldn't be more excited to have Russ join our family here. He is an outstanding young man who is not only solid in his faith and commitment to Jesus Christ, he is also passionate about connecting with youth and engaging them in a life of faith,” he said.

Jessica said the church reminds her and her husband of their church in Austin.

“So, we kind of feel like it's home but just in a different part of the country.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 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.