“It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in him.”

-Oswald Chambers

Pastor Jay Passavant was the embodiment of these words.

Complete, in Him, Jay lived his life in service of Jesus Christ, never ceasing to care for anyone with whom he came into contact. To know Jay was to feel the presence of the Lord. While he will be dearly missed, the thousands of lives touched by him and his life’s work can celebrate confidently that he has heard these words loud and clear, “well done good and faithful servant.”

“It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in him.”

-Oswald Chambers

Pastor Jay Passavant was the embodiment of these words.

Complete, in Him, Jay lived his life in service of Jesus Christ, never ceasing to care for anyone with whom he came into contact. To know Jay was to feel the presence of the Lord. While he will be dearly missed, the thousands of lives touched by him and his life’s work can celebrate confidently that he has heard these words loud and clear, “well done good and faithful servant.”

Memorial Service

A public worship and memorial service will be held at North Way Christian Community, 12121 Perry Hwy., Wexford, PA 15090 on August 30, 2021 at 1 p.m.

Jay Passavant, Pittsburgh PA, 1947-2021Pastor. Servant. Mentor. Husband. Father. Jaypa.

Dr. Jay Passavant, 74, completed his mission unexpectedly at home with his wife and partner in ministry Carol on August 19, 2021. Jay is survived by his three children plus spouses and ten grandchildren – Amy and Jay D’Ambrosio of Cranberry Twp., PA (parents of Luke, Jack and Trace) David and Corrie Passavant of Fox Chapel, PA (parents of Elizabeth, Nina, Anne and William) and Jonathan and Jenny Passavant of Waco, TX (parents of Ethan, James and Zelie). Jay is also survived by his beloved brother Glenn and Sharon Passavant of Tecumseh, Michigan and his beloved sister Susan and John Pusateri of Beaver, PA. Jay was born to Jack and Elsie Passavant in 1947 in Pittsburgh, PA.

At an early age, his family moved to Beaver, PA – a place he held an enduring fondness for throughout his life. He attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA earning a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and graduating as President of the student body in 1969. In Lexington he met and married Carol, his truest partner for 51 years.

In 1970 Jay received a commission into the United States Marine Corps. While in the Marine Corps Jay discovered his life’s true calling by leading a Christian youth ministry on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, VA. Jay was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1973 while attending Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, eventually graduating with a Master of Divinity degree.

Upon graduating Jay returned with Carol to Pittsburgh to lead the youth ministry for seven formative years at Memorial Park Presbyterian Church in Allison Park, PA. It was there that Jay met the founding core of eight couples that joined he and Carol to start a transformational inter-denominational church named North Way Christian Community in Wexford, PA.

By the grace of God North Way grew from nine couples to thousands of attendees with a footprint across this region during the 30 years that he faithfully pastored the church. Jay honorably and proudly carried on the legacy of his 3rd great-grandfather William Alfred Passavant of Zelienople, PA.

The family asks that any donations in remembrance be directed to Missions at North Way Christian Community (northway.org).

A public worship and memorial service will be held at North Way Christian Community, 12121 Perry Hwy., Wexford, PA 15090 on August 30, 2021 at 1 p.m.

You cared so deeply for all that the Lord brought you. You left an indelible mark on us and this world. To God be all the glory. We love you so much dad.

Words & Memories

John Jay Passavant…full of Jesus

Passionate. Authentic. Intelligent. Generous. Teachable. Tenacious. Faithful. Humble. Responsible. Creative. Confident. Empathetic. Optimistic. Enthusiastic. Thoughtful.

 

Jay and I attended Fuller Seminar together from 1971-1973. In our first years Jay and Carol (senior high mentors), along with my wife, Ann, and myself (junior high mentors) served a local church’s “Youth Family.” Weekly meetings began the seeds of lifelong friendship.

Fun definitely entered Fuller studious days as well when Jay, Dennis Macaleer and I would celebrate each completed quarter of studies with an all-night Monopoly tournament!  Jay would bankrupt the rest of us!  He was for sure the best!

Post seminary days led us together to discuss and pray over Jay’s church direction.  He and I would regularly meet at Breezewood, PA turnpike area (Jay from Pittsburgh area, I was in Baltimore area).  You all have experienced the external integrity and faithfulness of Jay; right then and there I witnessed Jay’s internal integrity as he shared his deep and sincere desire to fully honor and follow God’s direction.  What resulted, as I understand it, was the couple’s small group Jay and Carol initiated which resulted in the founding of Northway Christian Community Church! What a God-story!  Here you sit today testifying to Pastor Jay’s Christ-honoring walk of faith.

Finally, one quick additional personal story:  Our third and youngest son was born on Palm Sunday 40 years ago in Baltimore, Maryland.  He was diagnosed with Down syndrome.  We called Jay and Carol and voiced our struggle.  Their immediate response was, “We’ll be there just as soon as we finish our morning ministry here.”  More than amazing!  Our precious new born had not been named, maybe “John Thomas after Pat’s grandfather,” but as Carol and Jay walked into Ann’s hospital room, it became clear. Staring at Pastor Jay, Ann declared …”Your name is John, but you’re called ‘Jay!’ That’s it!  We’ll name him John Thomas, but call him JAY!” Another God-story for sure! And, by God’s grace, Jay Hartsock will indeed carry on the integrity and faithfulness of being named after Pastor Jay Passavant on into eternity.  Amen.

With the Love of our Lord and Savior, Pastor Pat & Ann and Jay Hartsock

 August 30, 2021

I first met Jay Passavant in March 2019 when he was paid to get lunch with me.

 

Our church had hired him to be our consultant during a pastoral transition. One of our elders had done a search for consulting groups that specialize in succession planning and Jay came up as one of the search results. He had been the founding pastor of one of the most well-known churches in Pittsburgh, and he was local and less expensive than the other options—so we brought him on for one year.

 

I was the associate pastor at the time, the son of the departing lead pastor, and the “inside” candidate interested in being the next lead pastor. It was a complex situation, to say the least, and I was naive to the realities of what Jesus meant he said, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. Jay, on the other hand, was well aware and knew he needed to meet with me early on. He bought me lunch (he always bought lunch), asked me questions, and, like an investigator, scribbled indiscernible notes on a tiny pad of paper he kept with him at all times.

 

That was the first of what would be about thirty hour-long conversations I’d have with him over the next two-and-a-half years—at least according to my Google calendar.

 

At first, our conversations were mostly about where we were in the process. He would walk me through his “succession diagram” again and again, explaining any movement that had been made since the last time we spoke. I often shared my frustrations with him about the pace and the way I felt like I was under a microscope in ways no outside candidate would ever be.

 

In one of these conversations, I began to voice doubts about whether or not I should continue with the process. I asked him to give me his honest assessment of my chances to be the next lead pastor, saying, “I’ve had multiple people tell me that it’s just too challenging to lead the church where you grew up and where your dad was the former pastor, but I’ll keep going if you think I should.” At this point, I trusted him enough to take his advice. He told me to keep going—so I did.

 

At some point, our conversations turned toward things beyond the succession diagram. We spoke about his love for biking, and I spoke about my concerns for someone his age going on vigorous bike rides around North Park. We spoke about the charismatic movement and our longing to see God renew the church in our time again. We ate ice cream and spoke about the ways he had witnessed gifted leaders fall over the years. He fielded all my questions about leadership. He would provide feedback on my sermons (“Slow down,” he would often say). We still spoke about the looming pastoral transition, of course, but it was on the backburner.

 

Then, about a month before the final vote, around Christmas of 2019, Jay and his wife Carol took me and my wife Julie out for Mexican food at Emiliano’s. In-between chips, they answered dozens of questions about pastoral leadership and family life—speaking openly about their own struggles to find balance at times. It was two seventy-somethings nearing the end of their race talking with two thirty-somethings at the start.

 

I assumed that would be our last regular conversation. We had hired him for one year, to do one task. The year was nearly over, the task was nearly done. At the end of the night, though, he said if we do end up staying on at the church in Pittsburgh, he would like to continue meeting once a month. It caught me off guard, but I said, looking forward to it.

 

Then, in February 2020, just under a year after I met Jay, I was voted in as lead pastor.

 

And, like he said, we kept meeting—only once, though, in-person before a pandemic hit and shifted our monthly lunches to phone calls. Now, I was asking him anxious questions about how to lead a church through crises both internal and external. He answered each question calmly, one by one, helping me learn to think like a pastor.

 

It was in one of the conversations, as I was pacing around the basement of our church, that he told me about his cancer diagnosis. He was hopeful, as he often was. I prayed for him, he prayed for me, and we checked the date for our next phone call.

 

I still struggled with why he made time for me, especially as it was becoming increasingly apparent that his own time was running out. He was the former pastor of the largest churches in the city meeting up with a young pastor of a small church. There were so many people who wanted his time, but he gave at least an hour of his time every month to me.

 

And, I continue to find out that I wasn’t the only one. He made time to invest in and encourage young leaders—even though he probably wouldn’t live to experience the return on that investment. It’s one of the greatest lessons I learned from him, one that I hope to embody in my own leadership.

 

In the past few months, our phone calls shifted back to lunch meetings again. At this point, though, I wasn’t just learning lessons through our conversations, I was learning by watching his life. I watched his faith in the face of disease. I watched the way he made time to answer thousands of emails from people who wanted him to pray for them. I watched as he organized a weekly worship night at the retreat center where the charismatic renewal broke out in the 1960s—asking God to do it again in our time.

 

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was watching someone finish well. I’ve recently started saying that my main goal in ministry is to be a pastor that lasts in a church that outlasts me, and I was having regular conversations with a pastor who did just that. Jay was a pastor that lasted in a church that outlasted him, and I want to be the same.

 

We were going to get lunch together again soon. My last text from him said, “I’m learning a lot about what it means to cultivate the ‘inner life’ which I’ve often neglected because of the busyness of ‘the outer life.’ We can talk about that at our next get together … blessings!” We didn’t get a chance to have that conversation.

 

The day after he passed away, I got a call from Jay’s phone. Every time I saw his name pop up on my phone screen, I did whatever I could to answer, but this time it wasn’t Jay on the other end. It was his wife Carol. She wanted me to hear it personally from her how much our monthly conversations meant to Jay, especially in that final year of his life. I thanked her for calling me, knowing it would be the last phone call I would receive from Jay’s number, and I cried as I hung up.

 

I can’t remember much about my first lunch with Jay, but I remember my last lunch. It was in May, and it was at Bonefish Grill on McKnight Road. He ordered a salad, I ordered a fish sandwich. We talked about all kinds of things, but mostly it was just me complaining and him listening. The main difference, though, between our first lunch together and our last was that at this one, he was no longer paid to spend time with me—a fact I reminded him of often. He was getting lunch with me, and other leaders like me, because he wanted to and because he couldn’t imagine spending his time any other way.

“Tocayo” is a spanish word used when 2 people have the same name. Jay Passavant was my tocayo and I am honored to call him a friend. He modeled to hundreds of thousands in communities around Western Pa and beyond what St Paul writes in Galatians “For freedom Christ set us free.” Jay was set free to let the love of Jesus lead him. He was free to follow Christ as a faithful husband to Carol, as a faithful Father and as a faithful Grandfather and as a faithful Apostle.

He passed on August 19, 2021. My heart broke as I realize what a blessing God gave to know my tocayo.

Jay came along my side as a part of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation when I pastored at Sts Simon & Jude Catholic Parish in Greentree. Despite the fact he was retired and loved spending time with his dear wife Carol and his family, he would drive from the North Hills to the South at least once a week for 3 years from 2014-2017. His desire was to help my catholic community to follow Jesus thru small group scripture circles we called “Living Room Church”.

Over 25 small groups grew under the leadership of us Jays. All of us found Jay relatable, funny, challenging and warm hearted. For me he was my coach on how to be a pastor of the Word of God.

In the Fall 2018 I became the administrator of 4 churches stretching from the Beaver Valley to Wexford. It was just a few years into this new ministry I heard of Jay’s health situation. I prayed but didn’t want to bother him. Then a mutual friend Reid Carpenter and I were at lunch. We were talking about Jay and Reid said “let’s call Jay now”. 30 minutes of talking to Jay inspired me to ask if I could visit him.

On August 12 I was honored to spend a few hours in his home where as always he and his wife hosted with great charity and fresh fruits. We prayed and discussed ways to empower Young Life in Ambridge.

I should have known when Jay commented on the scripture of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead that this would be the last time I would hear my coach bring Jesus alive to me through scripture. It makes sense as Jesus says in that Lazarus scene “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live…” this is what Jay leaned on completely total trust in the Truth of Jesus grace experienced in scripture.

I am so proud to share the same name with the man of God who up until his last moments witnessed the words of Jesus to me. He is now free from suffering and eternally free to be in communion with Christ. Jay rest in the peaceful heart of Christ who is our Lord and Savior.

-Father Jay Donahue

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North Way Christian Community
12121 Perry Highway
Wexford, PA 15090
724.935.6800

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