Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries
The Reverend John Gropp
While attending Slippery Rock University, I met my wife, Colleen, whom I married during my second year at Gettysburg Seminary where I actively participated in the Luther House of Studies, taking courses in many of the Washington D.C. area and other schools of theology. Following our marriage in March of 1974 we began a 2-year concurrent internship in the Armstrong, Indiana, and Jefferson county’s (AIJ Town and Country Cooperative Ministry). During the internship, I commuted to Washington D.C one day a week to attend courses there and complete my academic studies while serving the parishes of AIJ (At one time there were 21 parishes in AIJ from Avonmore near Apollo, to Brookville, and Dubois, to Brush Valley and Coral near Blairsville, just to mention the outside perimeter of the area served.) In case some think what we are doing in PLUM is tough or crazy, many of the congregations we served in AIJ have stabilized their ministries and are still faithfully serving their communities today.
The Reverend Beth Siefert
When I graduated from seminary in 1980 I was one of the first women to be ordained in the Western Pennsylvania – West Virginia Synod of the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) one of the predecessor churches of the ELCA. Finding a congregation that would consider calling a woman as pastor was not an easy task. I was blessed to be considered and called by the members of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in East Carnegie, Pittsburgh (a member church of the Pittsburgh Coalition) where I’ve served ever since. Through my call there I have developed an appreciation for and commitment to the important role small congregations play in the life of the church and our communities.
The Reverend Melba Dibble
I began my working career as a Reg. nurse. After Peter and I had adopted several children, I stayed home to raise them and homeschool several of them. Shortly after arriving in Pennsylvania, I began to listen to the calling of God to become a pastor. I was an Aaron’s minister for a time and felt I needed to do more. While I was on a youth trip to Gettysburg, TEEM was introduced to me. I went to Gettysburg, completed my TEEM education and was ordained in 2012. I did my internship with PLUM and have been a member of the team since 2009.
The Reverend Doctor Paul Koch
I graduated seminary with a M.Div.; ordained August 9, 1970; earned a D.Min degree in 2003; after 39 years of fulltime pastoral ministry, I retired to Pittsburgh from Chicago. Married to Sharon with two son, one of which lives in Ingram, PA; the other son is a saxophone player with the USAF Concert Band, D.C. Working part time with PLUM; primary ministry is Sunday morning leading worship and preaching preparing Bible Study materials for the PLUM pastors, teaching one class a week on Tuesday mornings, and working on a variety of PLUM projects.
The Reverend Elizabeth Mayforth
I was born and raised in Fairfield Connecticut. Graduated from James Madison University and the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I served St. James Lutheran Church Emsworth, PA and Trinity Lutheran Church Shelton CT. am a retired Military Chaplain (LTC). I currently am under call at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. I am married with 4 children. 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 of which you are now a part has and continues to evolve.
PLUM continues to meet the needs of small congregations and now has twelve churches as part of this cooperative ministry. These churches include:
Christ Lutheran Church – Duquesne
St Andrew – Carnegie
East Liberty Lutheran – East Liberty
Trinity Lutheran - Sheridan
Zion Lutheran – Coraopolis
Resurrection Lutheran – Oakdale
Lutheran Church of our Savior – Irwin
St. Paul’s Lutheran – Canonsburg
Trinity Lutheran – Mt. Oliver
Bethany Lutheran Church – Dormont
Messiah Lutheran – Munhall
Bethany Lutheran – Bethel Park