Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM)
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM)
Congregations United In Christ's Service
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 Brenda Henry
I am the proud mother of two. My daughter, a graduate of LaSalle University (2019), resides in Philadelphia. My son is a graduate of Thiel College (2020). We relocated to Pittsburgh in 2004, from Michigan, and have made it our home. My younger sister, ‘my first’ child, also lives here in Pittsburgh.
My faith has been shaped through an ecumenical journey. Born and raised in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, I was baptized and confirmed as a Moravian. I spent my young adult years as a member of a UCC congregation in Lansing, Michigan. While living in Pittsburgh, I had been a Baptist, until April 2017, when I joined Hope Lutheran Church of Forest Hills. I have served as Sunday school teacher for youth and adults, Church Secretary and Administrative Assistant to the Pastor, choir member and council member.
My first vocation was social work, which I did for 20 years. I received both my undergraduate (1990) and Master of Social Work (1992) degrees from Michigan State University. I earned my Master of Divinity degree in 2017, from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. I served as an Intern with PLUM as part of my Lutheran training. I have come to appreciate how ministry intersects secular space and congregations, thus allowing me to see how both of my vocations are an unfolding part of God’s plan for me. By the grace of God, and the support of the church, I was ordained on November 3, 2019 as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.
In service together with the congregations of PLUM we are discovering and participating in what God is up to in our communities and our world.
The Reverend Susan Devine
I was born and raised in central Pennsylvania. I met my husband, Keith, while attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where I graduated in 1983 with a BS in Education. Keith joined the Navy in 1984 and we spent the next 11 years as a Navy family. We lived in Waukegan, Illinois; Winter Park, Florida – where our son, Shawn, was born; Ballston Spa, New York – where our son, Bryant, was born; and Hampton, Virginia – where our daughter, Sarah, was born. In 1995, we returned to Pittsburgh, where we now reside. I am also blessed to have two grandsons and two granddaughters.
I came to ministry later in life, after spending 23 years in a banking career at Dollar Bank. I am a recent graduate of Luther Seminary, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I earned my Master of Divinity (2019). I was ordained on February 15, 2020. My home congregation, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, in the Sheraden community of Pittsburgh, was a congregation of Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries. Coming from a small, struggling congregation, I am passionate about working with small congregations to develop ministries in their local communities. I also serve as a member of the Stewardship Committee of the Southwest PA synod of the ELCA.
I am excited to begin my call as a Minister of Word and Sacrament to the congregations of PLUM.
“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
The Reverend Doctor Alexander Sumo
Alexander Yarmie Sumo is a lifelong Lutheran. Born and raised in Liberia, West Africa, he completed his secondary education at the William V.S. Tubman High School in Monrovia and obtained his undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Arts - BA) in sociology and public administration from the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) University in Liberia. He completed seminary and ministry training in August 2000 with a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.) degree from the United Methodist University - Gbarnga School of Theology. Alexander was ordained in 2003 as Pastor of Word and Sacrament in the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL). Between 2000 and 2008 Pastor Sumo served as pastor for several parishes in the Lutheran Church in Liberia (St. Paul – LTI, St. Andrew - Gorlu Parish, St. Matthew Parish – Paynesville, David A. Day – Harrisburg Parish, and Lutheran Memorial – Millsburg Parish).
Alexander and family relocated to the United States in 2008 and he was admitted to the pastoral roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 2011. Immediately following his admission to the ELCA roster, Pastor Sumo was called by the Southern Ohio Synod (SOS) to serve as Pastor/Developer for its mission congregation (The African International Lutheran Mission - AILM) in Columbus, Ohio. He served the AILM as a Lead Pastor for 14 years and the St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church in Newark, Ohio for a little over 2 years.
Alexander completed graduate work at Capital University – Trinity Seminary in Columbus, Ohio where he earned the Master of Arts (MA) in gender, youth and family studies (MAYFM) and the post graduate Master of Sacred Theology (STM) degree in leadership and pastoral practice. Pastor Alexander Sumo completed his doctoral studies in 2019 and earned the Doctor of Leadership for Transformational Change from Capital University and the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO). Dr. Alexander Yarmie Sumo and Ms. Deddeh Matee Kpukuyou, an accountant and a nursing professional are blessed with three (3) beautiful children: Alexander Yarmie Jnr., Alaric Leela, and charming Ms. Alexandria Jackie. The family has lived in Columbus, Ohio for over 14 years. A move to Pittsburgh, PA to serve Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM) is an exciting new journey and we cannot wait to start it. To God be the glory.
The Reverend Doctor Paul Koch (Pastor Emeritus)
I graduated seminary with a M.Div.; ordained August 9, 1970; earned a D. Min. degree in 2003; after 39 years of full-time 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 on 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 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 Seifert and John Gropp 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:
Read about our modern day Circuit Riders
Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110 412-466-7773