The Reverend Dr. John Gray Hamilton has been at Bethany since July 1, 2010…and he loves it! Not only is he getting hooked on the Pirates. Penguins, and Steelers, but John also loves the people, vision and spirit of Bethany Presbyterian Church. “ The warmth and joy of worship, the passion and practice of mission, and simply the people themselves help make my ministry a joy and confirm God’s call for me to be at Bethany,” is the way John puts it.
He was born and raised in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Westminster College, Pa. John has studied at Edinburgh, Scotland, worked in Norway and Canada, travelled extensively in Europe, and participated in several mission trips in Kenya, Africa. He received his Doctor of Ministry from Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia.
He has served churches in Polk, Pennsylvania, Baltimore Maryland, and for 17 years in Rochelle, Illinois. John’s wife, Melany, is also a Presbyterian Minister, and they are proud parents of three children: Stephen, who teaches at Erlangen University in Germany; Bethany, who is a jazz and classical singer in Chicago, Illinois; and Elissa, who is the mother to Jamie, John and Melany’s grandson, and who lives in the Pittsburgh area.
John cheers for Penn State football, loves to explore the hills and neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, enjoys all kinds of music, enjoys playing the guitar and singing, jogging and swimming, his family and especially his wife…and his church. John loves to share his puppets with the children on Sunday, puppets with names like, Angus McHaggis, Woody the Woodchuck, and St. Barnyard. He loves to preach and sometimes becomes the character in the passage.
Most of all, John loves his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“WE love because HE first loved us.” (I John 4:19)
These words fill the heart and guide the life of Rev. Melany Hamilton, the Interim Associate Pastor of Bethany Church. She enjoys sharing her spiritual gifts for preaching, teaching, prayer, pastoral care and spiritual direction.
During this transition time at Bethany she will be working with church leaders as they provide excellent Christian Education for all ages Pastor Melany takes special delight in working with the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and their children. She will work with the Deacons in reaching out to the community and congregation with compassion. She will join Pastor John in providing pastoral care to those in the important events of life (births, baptism, confirmation, weddings, funerals) as well as in the major traumas and more ordinary difficulties people face.
An experienced preacher, Pastor Melany will typically preach one Sunday each month, at all 3 worship services. Pastor Melany says, “I was blessed to be asked to serve as Bethany Church’s Interim Associate Pastor several years ago. Now I am greatly blessed to be chosen to serve in that position once again. What a joy it is for me to be serving my “home church”…a congregation with a clear mission to trust in Jesus, love like Jesus, grow in Jesus, and bring others to Jesus.”
John became our Director of Music & Worship in September of 2001. Prior to this John served as Director of Music at Sharon Community Presbyterian Church in Moon Township, PA and as Director of Music for Bethel Presbyterian Church in Bethel Park, PA John earned a B.M. degree in Sacred Music from Duquesne University and a M.M. in Organ from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. His organ teachers have included Ann Labounsky and William Hays.
Theology: We are called to lift a song to the Lord and to sing God’s praises. Music in the church is intended to support the Word as it is preached each Sunday. Music is not randomly selected, but matched by text and style and integrated into the fabric of our weekly worship. Music of all historic periods and styles has a place in the worship of God. Sharing of our musical gifts and talents is one way we can serve the Lord at Bethany Church!