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PLUM Churches:

Bethany (Dormont)

Christ (Duquesne)

East Liberty

Hope (Forest Hills)

Luth. Church of Our Saviour

Messiah (Munhall)

Resurrection (Oakdale)

St. Andrew (East Carnegie)

St. Paul's (Canonsburg)

Trinity (Mt. Oliver)

Zion (Coraopolis)


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Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM)

Congregations United In Christ's Service


After careful prayer and deliberation of the COVID-19 health guidance, we have taken a proactive approach to care for our congregations and our community by suspending all worship services and activities until further notice. 

For PLUM updates during the Covid-19 pandemic, please visit our What's New web page.  For your friends and neighbors who do not have internet access, please tell them that they can call 412-466-7774 for daily updates.  Updates will be posted daily, by Noon.

For online PLUM Bible Studies and Worship Services via Zoom, go HERE.



Please call our Pastoral Team for pastoral concerns and emergences.

In the midst of the Coronavirus global pandemic, the 11 small congregations of PLUM remain committed to our ministries of providing  care and support for our families, our churches and our communities.  We have moved to a virtual ministry format that includes Sunday worship at 3:00 p.m., daily prayer at 2:00 p.m. and on-line Bible studies.  You may find the details for each of these ministry opportunities at our website located at WhatsNew.htm#Schedule.  This phone line and our website will serve as sources to keep you updated to our rapidly-changing “new normal”, as we faithfully respond to governmental guidelines of caring for each other, in the midst of the Covid-19 virus.  This will help us to stay connected to the needs of our members, community, and congregations.  Remember "God's Work /Our Hands" is more than a cute slogan.  It is a many-faceted opportunity for us to truly be the BODY of Christ in the world.  Let us move forward in the assurance that God is with us now and always.  Thank you for partnering with us in this new journey. 


Let us remember that GOD is with us ALWAYS!

Credit to Bethany Walker, seminarian from Luther Seminary

From Julie Silver, MD, Harvard Medical Center:

It has been years since I have posted anything on this page.  As a physician at Harvard Medical School, I have amazing access to the best information and resources for #Covid19.  I know people are getting a lot of information, and not all of it is accurate.  My friend - Dr. Reem Ghalib - posted this summary.  It is a very helpful social media post because it explains how the numbers work (albeit the way we understand the numbers is evolving as we learn more - things could be better or worse than early data suggests). Regardless, it's easy to see how the numbers get big fast and why the medical system might be overwhelmed - putting patients who need help at risk of not getting it.  Please read and share with your loved ones, friends, and colleagues.  Urge people to be calm and logical in their decision making.  Err on the side of caution.  In regards to the info below, note that "coronavirus" is used generically to mean the specific strain Covid-19.

Dear Friends,

So much confusion, misinformation and denial is bouncing around on social media about the coronavirus that I thought I would try to explain, in plain language, why the experts see this as such an emergency.

You will see the claim online that this virus is a lot like the viruses that cause colds, and that if you get it, it will probably just seem like a bad cold and you are very unlikely to die.  Depending on who you are, these statements are probably true.  But they are incomplete, and the missing information is the key to understanding the problem.

This is a coronavirus that is new to the human population, jumping into people late last year from some kind of animal, probably at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.  It is related to the viruses that cause colds, and acts a lot like them in many ways.  It is very easy to transmit through the respiratory droplets that all of us give off.  But nobody has ever been exposed to this before, which means nobody has any immunity to it.

The virus is now moving explosively through the human population.  While most people will recover, about 20 percent of the people who catch it will wind up with a serious disease.  They will get pneumonia that causes shortness of breath, and they may need hospitalization.

Some of those people will get so sick that they cannot be saved and will die of the pneumonia.  The overall death rate for people who develop symptoms seems to be 2 or 3 percent.  Once we have enough testing to find out how many people caught the virus but did not develop symptoms, that might come down to about 1 percent, optimistically.

This is a large number.  It is at least 10 times higher than the mortality rate for the seasonal flu, for instance, which in some years kills 60,000 or 70,000 Americans.  So, just on that math, we could be looking at 600,000 or 700,000 dead in the United States.  But it gets worse.

Older people with existing health problems are much more vulnerable, on average.  The mortality rate of coronavirus among people over age 80 may be 15 or 20 percent. It appears to have 7 or 8 percent mortality for people aged 70 to 79.  Here is the terrible part: If you are a healthy younger person, you can catch the virus and, without developing serious symptoms yourself, you can pass it along to older people. In other words, as the virus spreads, it is going to be very easy to go out and catch it, give it to your grandmother and kill her, even though you will not die yourself.  You can catch it by touching a door knob or an elevator button.

Scientists measure the spread of an epidemic by a number called R0, or “R naught.”  That number is calculated this way: for every person who develops the illness, how many other people do they give it to before they are cured (or dead) and no longer infectious?  The R0 for coronavirus, in the absence of a control strategy, appears to be a number close to 3 – maybe a bit higher or lower, but in that ballpark.  This is an extremely frightening number for such a deadly disease.

Suppose you catch the virus.  You will give it to 3 other people, and they will each give it to three others, and so forth.  Here is how the math works, where you, the “index case,” are the first line:

So, in just 15 steps of transmission, the virus has gone from just one index case to 14.3 million other people.  Those 15 steps might take only a few weeks.  The index person may be young and healthy, but many of those 14 million people will be old and sick, and they will likely die because they got a virus that started in one person's throat.

The United States is not at this point yet, with millions infected, as best we can tell.  We don’t really know. We do know that cases are starting to pop up all over the place, with many of the people having no known exposure to travelers from China, so that means this virus has escaped into our communities.

We do not have approved treatments, yet.  We do not have a vaccine.  The only tool we really have now is to try to slow down the chain of transmission.

This can be done.  In other words, R0 is not fixed – it can be lowered by control measures.  If we can get the number below 1, the epidemic will die out.  This is the point of the quarantines and the contact-tracing that you are hearing so much about in the news.  But the virus is exploding so fast that we will not have the labor available to trace contacts for much longer, so we have to shift strategies.  This has already begun, but we are not doing it fast enough.

It is now likely that the majority of Americans will get this virus.  But, slowing it down is still crucial.  Why? Because the healthcare system has limited resources.  We only have about a million hospital beds in America.  We have well under a million ventilators.  If millions of Americans get sick enough to need treatment, we will have a calamity on our hands.  What will happen is a form of battlefield triage, where the doctors focus on trying to treat the young and allow the older people to die.

This is not theoretical.  It is already happening in Italy, where people over 65 are being left alone on hospital gurneys to suffocate to death from pneumonia.  They basically drown in their own sputum.  There is simply not enough medical capacity to take care of them.  The United States appears to be about two weeks behind Italy on the epidemic growth curve.

What do we need to do now?  We need to cancel all large gatherings – all of them.  You have probably seen that the N.B.A. has postponed the rest of its season.  Other sporting events, concerts, plays and everything else involving large audiences in a small space – all of it needs to be canceled.  Even if these events take place, do not go to them.  No lectures, no plays, no movies, no cruises – nothing.

Stay at home as much as possible.  Stay out of restaurants.  I would cancel any travel that is not absolutely essential.  Work from home, if you possibly can.  You may have to go buy groceries and medicine, of course, but make the trips quick and purposeful.  Wash your hands assiduously after you have been in public places, for a full 20 seconds, soaping up thoroughly and being sure to get between the fingers. Sunlight and alcohol will kill the virus.

And please stop passing around statements on social media claiming that the situation is not serious or is being exaggerated.  This is a national crisis, and conveying misinformation to your friends and family may put their lives in danger.


Click HERE to see a larger version of the map PLUM map

The origins of PLUM go back to the year 2004 when our sister congregation at East Liberty Lutheran became vacant and was unable to provide the resources to call a pastor. Pastors Beth and John recognized that East Liberty’s situation was similar to that of many of our small congregations.  So, they put their heads together, along with the members of East Liberty, Christ and St. Andrew, to develop a plan of action. That work led to the PLUM model for addressing the pastoral care needs of small congregations in our Greater Pittsburgh area. It is from those discussions, the fantastic support of our congregations and our synod, constant prayer, faithful action and humble beginnings that the Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries has, and continues to, evolve. PLUM continues to meet the needs of small congregations and now has eleven churches as part of this cooperative ministry. These churches include:

  • Bethany Lutheran Church – Dormont

  • Christ Lutheran Church – Duquesne

  • East Liberty Lutheran – East Liberty

  • Hope Lutheran Church Forest Hills

  • Lutheran Church of our Saviour – North Huntingdon

  • Messiah Lutheran – Munhall

  • Resurrection Lutheran – Oakdale

  • St. Andrew – East Carnegie

  • St. Paul’s Lutheran – Canonsburg

  • Trinity Lutheran – Mt. Oliver

  • Zion Lutheran – Coraopolis

In these first decades of the 21st Century, Pittsburgh Lutherans are giving birth to a renewed enthusiasm for the mission of the Gospel.  Ten congregations have begun to respond to God’s Call for transformation.  They have discovered that the best way to live into this calling is through an intentional cooperative ministry.  We call it "Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries" (PLUM).

Gradually our members are learning that faithfulness to the challenge of the Gospel requires a move out of the confinement of our church buildings and unbinding the restrictions of traditionalism.  This will renew the congregations’ commitment to the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28.19-20)

Bringing the joy of the Gospel into the streets and homes of the people living around our buildings requires a transformation of our congregations.  This is neither an easy task nor is it a ‘quick fix’ for congregations that are in various stages of decline, discouragement, and detachment from the Gospel’s Call. 

The great prophet Elijah provides an illustration (1 Kings 19).  Having defeated the false prophets of Baal and publicly challenging the political powers of his day, Elijah escaped arrest and began a journey to Mt. Sinai.  In his exhaustion, he sat under a broom tree and he thought he might die there.  Instead of dying, angels came with food.  He continued his journey in the strength of God’s providence only to hear God say to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19.13b)   This question was followed by instructions from God.  Elijah had a new mission to accomplish.

So it is with PLUM’s twelve congregations!  As we have turned the corner from survival to mission, members have begun to think in terms of the church’s mission.  Some initial examples of their transformation into this new mission include:

1.   Moving a Saturday Summer worship out on the front porch (including fire pot and a fellowship of marshmallows and hot dogs).  This has attracted the attention of passers-by.

2.   Giving a block party for the neighborhood.  This has resulted in baptisms and new member families.

3.   Cooking, serving and delivering over 1,000 full turkey dinners on Thanksgiving Day.

4.   Two congregations, whose financial resources are very limited, made the decision to take 10% of the weekly offerings and divide them evenly between support of the ELCA and a local mission or benevolence (a different group is chosen each month).

5.   The new enthusiasm recently inspired two visitors at one of our churches to step forward with an interest in building outreach to children and youth.

6.   Two congregations are now offering a free lunch program for their neighbors.

7.  Two congregations host monthly diaper banks, which offer new and gently used baby supplies to individuals in the local community.  They distribute items such as diapers, baby wipes, baby clothes, baby/toddler toys and equipment, and other baby supplies to over 100 children each month.

One recent development is the identification of $400.00 each month, in each congregation, caused by a reduction of the congregation’s monthly contribution towards pastoral care.  The Pastoral Team and the PLUM Board are challenging each congregation to put that money into a Congregational Mission Fund that would be used for new mission efforts.  In other words, each congregation could have $4,800 mission dollars annually, or collectively PLUM would have $43,200 mission dollars available.

The ultimate goal is to see each congregation as a Mission Outpost.  We hope to see the Gospel’s mission at the center of the congregation’s planning, ministry, and life.

It is the Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM) mission to be LIVING CHRIST’S LIGHT OF HOPE IN OUR COMMUNITIES.  PLUM will:

·        Provide stability of Word, Sacrament, and Pastoral Care.

·        Foster opportunities for connectivity among individuals, congregations, and communities.

·        Develop lay leadership for sharing the Gospel.

·        Encourage freedom to care for neighbors.

Vicar Mandy Gilberti      Rev. Brenda Henry        Rev. Sue Devine      Bishop Kurt Kusserow        Rev. Paul Koch          Rev. John Gropp     

Click HERE to learn more about Our Pastors!

405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110

Office Phone: 412-466-7773

E-mail: PLUM@plumofpa.com



Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM)

is a member of the


Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod





of the

Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaELCA - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Contact Webmaster: PLUM@plumofpa.com



Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773