Monthly archives: November, 2017

A Prayer of Thanks!

It is a day or two away … Thanksgiving!  One of the biggest get together’s of the year to begin the holiday seasons of Christmas and New Years as we look back to be thankful for what we received and look forward with hope for the love that comes at Christmas and all that will be for common good in 2018.


It is a time to be humble for those of us who can appreciate good health and a comfortable lifestyle that is better than a number of people who live in various places in our communities and around the world that need to wonder where their next meal is coming from each day.

So it is fitting that a Prayer of Thanks be offered up at this time!

The audio prayer below is from the award-winning radio production in the mid-1980’s entitled “The Great American Feast.”  Executive Producer of this special at that time lived in Pittsburgh and hosted “Sunday Morning on WDVE” the Rev. Dennis C. Benson, a Presbyterian minister. Dennis also served as Executive Producer for Passages, provided to radio stations from your Presbyterian friends of the Presbyterian Media Mission.  Derek Simons of Chicago (Catholic Priest) was the writer for the special and Bud Frimoth a Presbyterian minister from Portland, OR (award-winning radio show Open Door producer) provided the audio clips of children inserted into the prayer.  Gregg Hartung (Presbyterian)  and Ron Byler (Mennonites) worked on marketing the Great American Feast to stations throughout North America.  There was United Methodist and Lutheran help and support too.

To enjoy this “Prayers of Thanks” narrated by the late Steve Allen, click on the button below …

Background on the late Steve Allen

Can peace come to South Sudan?

We go inside what is happening in the troubled country of South Sudan. Through the eyes of Achol Majok Sur a South Sudanese woman who attended a recent Presbyterian Church U.S.A. conference with people from 15 other countries who discussed peace. Achol is an ordained deaconess in the South Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Video overview of peacemaking program visits by International Peacemakers


More than a year after a peace agreement was signed to end South Sudan’s crippling civil war, the levels of violence are escalating and humanitarian conditions in the country continue to deteriorate. The United Nations humanitarian affairs agency OCHA reported in mid-2016 that civilians continued to be killed and subjected to egregious human rights violations. Violent attacks on humanitarian workers and health care workers in general are also on the increase. Hostility levels are high and tension in the country continues to grow as confidence ebbs that a meaningful peace can be found. As a direct result of the war, millions of people are at-risk of starvation.

Here is the story from someone living inside South Sudan. Achol shares about starvation and the struggle for survival and the hope she finds in knowing that we are all members of Christ’s body the Church.  I Corinthians 12:12-26 Click on the audio button …

Pittsburgh Presbytery’s International Partnership Ministry Team heard a stirring report from the Rev. Jim Leuenberger recently on the conditions faced by our sisters and brothers in South Sudan.

As the crisis in South Sudan continues to spiral out of control, the country is in urgent need of assistance, both political and humanitarian. The Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently reported that the youngest country in the world has 7.6 million people in need of aid. Only two-thirds of the funding request for aid has been received. There are currently 4 million displaced people with two million having fled to neighboring countries.

You can help by signing the online action which will result in letters to the President and Secretary of State of the United States. Please help. If you would share it, that will increase the effectiveness.


Support Peace Efforts in South Sudan

As the crisis in South Sudan continues to spiral out of control, the country is in urgent need of assistance – both political and humanitarian. The Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently reported that the world’s youngest country has 7.6 million people in need of aid.

Thanks to the Rev. Jim Leuenberger of McKeesport Presbyterian Church for arranging the interview with Alchol.

Passages Lite is an edited on-line version of interviews with people of hope and faith that will be prepared for an expanded radio use heard on over 200+ stations each weekend.

Host for this special peacemaking version of Passages is Pam Merry an elder/church member at Crestview Community Church PCUSA in Callery, PA.

Executive Producer is the Rev. Dennis C. Benson and Associate Producers are Gregg Hartung and Bill Wolfe. It is a gift from your Presbyterian and United Methodist friends.

It is a production of the Presbyterian Media Mission.

Our prayers are with our friends from South Sudan and the other 15 International Peacemakers from around the world!

One Bullet through the neck!

On Passages stories of faith and hope this Veterans Day we take a ride in a jeep with Bill during World War II.  Click on the audio link below and read along as Bill shares his story.

Host: A bullet from a sniper destroys the radio on a soldiers back!

Bill: I used to ride in the right hand side of the jeep which was actually the death seat. Snipers would always pick out the guy on the right-hand side thinking he had rank. I was always reluctant to ride there but if my Sergeant wanted to ride there, I certainly let him ride there, I never got up there, I would ride anywhere else.

Host: A man lucky with his brushes with death. This is Passages where people offer their stories of hope. I’m Dennis Benson. Today Bill shares in his own words, one dangerous moment during the war.

Bill: I would keep my rank hidden because I don’t want to draw attention to it. But we had occassions where I was carrying a radio on my back one time. And I was trying to keep liason between various groups that I was working with. And I came back to the starting point and the radio had been shot off my back. The holes through the radio and I was bleeding from my neck. And apparently a round had come through the radio and struck me in the neck and was bleeding. I suddenly realized how close I had come because one bullet through your neck would have taken care of you. And so I flicked it off, wiped it off and put a bandaid on it and thought nothing of it, until much later. I started thinking about it, problem much later, hey one bullet could have taken care of me that time. But you don’t think of those things when your young.

Host: The story of Bill’s joy for life is a gift from your Presbyterian and United Methodist friends.

We are thankful for those who have served in the military, like Bill, to defend our country!

We pray for all our military serving in harms way.

Want to participate in the Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive?

The Mr. Rogers’ sweater drives are put together by individual churches and other organizations. Gregg Hartung suggests the following steps to start a local sweater drive:

Contact local organizations to see if they need sweater donations.

Download the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive graphic and promote the event in worship, in bulletins and newsletters as well as on social media.

Invite volunteers to help sort and deliver the sweaters, emphasizing connecting with others in the community.

Designate a place in the church for sweater collection.

Sort and deliver the sweaters at the end of the drive.

If you live in the Pittsburgh area please take gently used sweaters to the lobby of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh for distributing them to folks in need of keeping warm.

For more information call PMM Director Gregg Hartung 412-697-9211 or 724-777-2489.

(Thanks to PMM Leadership Team Member the Rev. Sue Washburn for the creation of this web page.)

You can copy and use the images below for your sweater drive!



Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood 18th Annual Sweater Drive

It is about just being good neighbors! Caring like Fred taught us is when we gather gently used sweaters and then distribute them to those neighbors who need help to keep warm this winter.

Presbyterian Media Mission (PMM) and Presbyterian Churches of the Tri-State area join in supporting the effort to care for those needing help to keep warm as the weather shifts to being cold.

More from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh about the launch of the sweater drive later today! Click on the link

You and your church can help in your community and throughout the region this Thanksgiving and Advent season!

Click below to learn how you can participate in the sweater drive!

Listen to Mr. Fred Roger’s on Passages where stories of hope and inspiration get shared to provide light in an all to often dark and bleak world.

Let’s Go to the Zoo!

Ray Buckley an author and Native American Advocate shares about how his mentally challenged brother puts a smile on his face.

Listen to the audio story outlined below by clicking on the audio button as Ray shares it in his own words on Passages, where award-winning stories of hope and inspiration are shared to bring about care and understanding.

Host: During the worse moments, good things come from unexpected places.

Ray: The doctor says you have cancer.

The worse news. This is Passages.  I’m Dennis Benson.  Ray turns from his doctor to his mentally challenged brother, Rick.

Ray:  I went home and sat down and told my brother, Rick. And tears came down his face and we talked about it.

Host: In his grief he offers hope.

Ray: In the next breath he said, “We’re going to the zoo!” And what he really said was, “cancer all right. On bad days we can’t go to the zoo.

oo. Cancer, today it’s a good day. Lets go to the zoo!”

Host: Rick gives Ray family love.

Ray: In every step is cancer as bad as loneliness? Probably not. Every step of the way there has been someone with something that has been enough for that moment.

Host: Ray lost his wife and child to a drunken driver.

Ray: Can anybody ask for anything more I don’t think so and in light of our living we take the  good moments with the bad moments and knowing that there will be a mixture.  And we don’t despear.

Host: Ray’s hope is a challenge from your Presbyterian and United Methodist friends.

We pray for Ray and others dealing with cancer as part of their lives.  May they have loving support like Ray who has his brother Rick!

Listen to Bob Dylan “Man Gave Names To All The Animals” by clicking on the link …