Say a Little Prayer the Pittsburgh Experiment, an Ecumenical Movement to Take Worship beyond the Pews, Marks Major Milestone

By Smith, Peter | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), February 22, 2015 | Go to article overview

Say a Little Prayer the Pittsburgh Experiment, an Ecumenical Movement to Take Worship beyond the Pews, Marks Major Milestone


Smith, Peter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The small group of men gathered over soup, salads and flat-bread sandwiches at their regular Tuesday lunch table at Houlihan's at the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon.

The waiter filled their coffee and soft-drink orders, which he knows by heart. The men bantered a little about the Pirates' latest acquisition and had some fun at the expense of one of their regular attendees, absent for a winter sojourn down South.

But without losing its casualness, the conversation held to a purpose. "How's everyone's week?" one of them asked. "... Hey, what's going on with you, anything?"

They shared anxieties about aging parents and grown-up children. They told of searches for new jobs and overflowing inboxes at existing jobs. They committed to praying for each others' struggles.

"It's the highlight of my week," David Redding, 59, of Mt. Lebanon said of the group, which he joined the way most people do, at the invitation of a friend.

The men have been meeting only since last summer, but they're part of a much older movement - the Pittsburgh Experiment, a nondenominational Christian group that is marking the 60th anniversary of its founding Saturday.

Launched by the late Rev. Sam Shoemaker in 1955, it marked an effort to bridge the pieties of Sunday worship with the realities of the workweek.

Shoemaker - a priest at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside - proclaimed his hope that "God would be the same to Pittsburgh as steel is to Pittsburgh."

Groups met everywhere from the Duquesne Club and the U.S. Steel headquarters to the Aliquippa plant of Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.

The steel may be largely gone now, but these groups are the direct ancestors of today's "Experimenters," meeting at Houlihan's as well as various Panera Bread, Eat'n Park and other sites in and around Pittsburgh. Some are for men or women only, others are mixed.

Racquel Montgomery of North Braddock, who leads a monthly group in South Park, said the group offers a "place where you can be safe" and share struggles.

"In the age of social media, we think people could connect. It think it's really not true," said Ms. Montgomery, 55. "You see all the entries on Facebook shouting for connection. You read people sharing their pain to an outside world and some people would answer, but there's really no connection. The best connection is still face to face."

The Pittsburgh Experiment was one of the last major initiatives for Shoemaker, who was such an energetic advocate for one-on-one evangelism that the Rev. Billy Graham once said that no one "in our generation has made a greater impact for God on the Christian world, than did Samuel Shoemaker."

Shoemaker, who died in 1963, was previously a parish priest in New York and influenced a recovering alcoholic, Bill Wilson, who went on to launch Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson credited the priest with inspiring many of AA's founding principles, including reliance on a higher power, mutual support and confidentiality in a small- group setting.

Such principles - while less formalized - also found their way into the Pittsburgh Experiment. The Experiment is also explicitly Christian, while the "higher power" of Twelve Step groups often has taken on various definitions.

Since its founding, the Experiment also has spawned a retreat and conference ministry and an "Employment Anonymous" group for the jobless, and it helped inspire college ministries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Say a Little Prayer the Pittsburgh Experiment, an Ecumenical Movement to Take Worship beyond the Pews, Marks Major Milestone
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.