Remembering Fred Rogers on his birthday!

Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) was an American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister. Rogers was famous for creating, hosting, and composing the theme music for the educational preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001), which featured his kind-hearted, grandfatherly personality, and directness to his audiences.[1]

Initially educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. WQED developed his own show in 1968 and it was distributed nationwide by Eastern Educational Television Network. Over the course of three decades on television, Fred Rogers became an icon of American children’s entertainment and education.[2] He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. His testimony before a lower court in favor of fair-use recording of television shows to play at another time (now known as time shifting) was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case, and he gave now-famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, advocating government funding for children’s television.[3]

Rogers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, some forty honorary degrees,[4] and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, was recognized by two Congressional resolutions, and was ranked No. 35 among TV Guide‘s Fifty Greatest TV Stars of All Time.[5] Several buildings and artworks in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory, and the Smithsonian Institution displays one of his trademark sweaters as a “Treasure of American History”. On June 25, 2016, the Fred Rogers Historical Marker was placed near Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and was named and dedicated in his memory.[6

More on Fred

Click on the audio button below for a Passages Radio Show featuring Fred talking about his start in TV, attending seminary, helping start WQED and PBS, and his ministry to children and their families.

In the fall of 1997, Presbyterians Today editor Eva Stimson interviewed Fred Rogers in his cramped office at WQED in Pittsburgh. Her story appeared in the March 1998 issue of the magazine.

The Real “Mister Rogers” (below is an excerpt from the article to reflect on)

In the early 1960’s, Fred recalls, national staff in the United Presbyterian Church U.S.A. began talking to him about developing a children’s TV program as an outreach of the denomination.  But then priorities shifted and money for the project evaporated.  Did the church miss a big opportunity?

“It’s hard to say,” comments Gregg Hartung, executive director of Presbyterian Media Mission and a personal friend of Rogers’. “I’m not sure a ministry like Fred’s could be done within an institution.” If a church-Rogers partnership had come to fruition, the PCUSA might be known today as a trailblazer in TV evangelism.

On the other hand, the constraints of working within a church bureaucracy might have had a stifling effect on Rogers’ creativity. Or his programming might have been buried in a “religious ghetto,” reaching only a fraction of the people whose lives have been affected by watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

As it turns out, Rogers’ principle tie to the Presbyterian Church is his unusual ordination to the ministry. In 1962 Pittsburgh Presbytery ordained him with a charge to continue his work with children and families through the media. He has never served in the traditional role of pastor, but through television he brings his simple message of affirmation and acceptance to a “congregation” of millions.

“I’ve seen it happen so often – what I present in faith somehow nourishes the viewer,” Rogers says. Before taping a TV show, he always prays to God: “Let some word that is said be yours.” He firmly believes in “holy ground,” which he describes as “the space between the person who is offering his or her best and how the Holy Spirit can translate that to help another person in need.”

Presbyterian Historical Society releases rare early video of Fred Rogers’ “Sunday on the Children’s Corner”

PHILADELPHIA (PHS) The Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) has recently transferred to digital video a rare 16mm print of Sunday on the Children’s Corner, the first television program to feature the piano-playing and puppeteering of Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers, supporting his creative partner, Josie Carey. Carey was born Josephine Vicari on August 20, 1930, in Pittsburgh.

Happy birthday to Fred and 50 years of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS!




All the World is Green today!

Over the years there has been much saddness when it comes to Ireland!

We reflect on some Irish stores that shared the sadness that always had an underlining hope that through efforts by the Church and people in their communities they would find peace.

Listen to Father Tom a Catholic Priest who shares about the struggle of getting jobs for folks that would be a major step towards peace for this island country.

Wilford Orr shares about the Protestant struggle and finding a way for common purpose and mutual understanding in Ireland.

John tells of a special community “Corrymeela ” that brings people from various traditions in Ireland and around the world together to find ways for peace where there is heartache and disagreement.

Finally, a Pittsburgh icon, Art Rooney Sr. who’s son Dan served as Ambassador to Ireland on Passages. Art tells about how he as one of the founding owners of the NFL/Pittsburgh Steelers’ was humble guy and an everyday person that was a good example for his family, friends, and the Pittsburgh community.

Irish stories of hope and faith this St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

International Day of Women Stories

International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

Domestic violence happens all to often , women are threatened and attacked violently.

Beth shares her story ….

International Women’s Day events is when various women, including political, community, and business leaders, as well as leading educators, inventors, entrepreneurs, and television personalities, are usually invited to speak at various events on the day. Such events may include seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners or breakfasts. The messages given at these events often focus on various themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, or the importance of education and career opportunities.

Many students in schools and other educational settings participate in special lessons, debates or presentations about the importance of women in society, their influence, and issues that affect them. In some countries school children bring gifts to their female teachers and women receive small presents from friends or family members. Many workplaces make a special mention about International Women’s Day through internal newsletters or notices, or by handing out promotional material focusing on the day.

Holly Dunn tells about her sheltered up-bringing and the family values she appreciates.  Listen to her story …

Holly tells of a dark time that took her to the edge of considering suicide. Listen to this part of her story ….

Helen is a woman who creatively deals with being blind and needs a system to simply know where daily things are to live life! Listen to her story now ….

Mavis  an elder of the tribe talking about her legacy as a woman serving others in being an International labor leader who was ahead of her time in a male dominated field. Listen to Mavis Story ….

Nona a retired professor finds a way to serve the poor in her native Philippines. Listen to her story on Passages.

We pray for the women in our lives who make a difference each and everyday!

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Premiered on this date on PBS!

It was February 19, 1968 when Fred Rogers debuted on PBS via the first public television station WQED in Pittsburgh.

The mission was to reach out to children and their families because between the TV set and the viewer is holy ground where care and love often took place. A paraphrase of what Fred said to us in one of our visits to his office at WQED over the years. Fred was helping us to see how producing was really about being empathetic to what the viewer/listener was experiencing in his or her life.

He enjoyed listening to Passages shows we shared with him. Fred listened to Passages while on the treadmill and stationary bike each day. He felt that there was holy ground between the listener to Passages and the person sharing their story. He loved the conversational interview techniques that Dennis Benson Executive Producer of Passages forged as the style for drawing listeners into the stories people so graciously provided to help others.

Fred reflecting on Passages about the purpose of the mission of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood …

Looking to March the Post Office will be issuing a stamp honoring Fred for sell on March 23, Fred’s birthday!
A biography and movie will be out this year and next on Fred too.

Here is a classic Passages produced interview featuring Fred Rogers and ” Speedy Delivery” Mr. McFeely, as a special delivery on Passages for you.

One of the most powerful experiences is Fred at the Television Hall of Fame.


There was always more to learn about life each time you experienced Fred Rogers!

May God bless you on your journey in life.

“Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal.” Robert Kennedy

“Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as the talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances.”
Robert F. Kennedy

“We came to America, either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had seen before, to get rid of the things that divide and to make sure of the things that unite.”
Woodrow Wilson

“Mr. Speaker, our Nation depends on immigrants’ labor, and I hope we can create an immigration system as dependable as they are.”
Luis Gutierrez

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…”
George Washington


“Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans – loving risk takers in search of an ideal – the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history… Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future.”
George W. Bush




Some Christian Leaders Say Deportations Would Jeopardize Their Churches

Both the challenges and opportunities of U.S. Christianity are evident at Fairmeadows Baptist Church in Duncanville, Texas, just south of Dallas. On some Sundays, services at the church draw as few as a dozen worshippers, most of them white.

We pray as our leaders consider a pathway to citizenship for dreamers and work on a fair and responsible immigration policy.


Lenten Journey with Godspell

Today is Transfiguration Sunday on the Christian Calendar.  We begin the Lenten season Wednesday leading to the celebration of Holy week and culminating in Easter with resurrection.

Godspell the Broadway play where Jesus as a theological clown helps us to grasp the celebration of living into the hope and love given by God.

Article from Presbyterian Outlook on Transfiguration Sunday with questions to reflect on …

Preparing the way of the Lord!


A Classic Passages produced by Dennis Benson with interviews from the original Broadway cast of Godspell.

SYNOPSIS: The Gospel According to St. Matthew is presented in a series of skits and songs, with Jesus and his disciples presented as loving clowns, in this musical featuring songs by Stephen Schwartz, conceived and originally directed by John-Michael Tebelak.

Dennis interviews Lamar Alfred and Stephen Nathan of the Godspell cast.
Click on the audio below ….

Walking through the Lenten season with you!

Enjoy the journey!

Reflective Thoughts on Football and Life

It is my personal privilege to share this reflection on a life long Steelers’ fan … my father Howdy Hartung.

It was Thanksgiving when we got the call that our dad was close to death. So many thoughts run through your mind at the time. Lets go jump on a plane to Arizona now! Call the airlines so we can leave first thing in the AM, hospice care folk say that he has 2-3 days. The call comes before we board the plane that your dad passed away.

A flood of emotions and memories rush all through your mind and body. We said our last goodbyes in person on Father’s Day in June. Little did we know that would be the last time with him in the same space even though we talked with him a number of times by phone up until the weekend before Thanksgiving.

I missed a call on November 19 from him. He almost always ended the call with I love you when he talked with my sister Melanie, Jeff, family members, his friends, and me. It was part of his good nature to care for people. Here is a message he left on my phone that day.

My brother Jeff who works with NFL and college football teams for the helmet company Riddell had a story that comfirmed for him and our family that dad is in a good place now. The suffering with the disease Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune disease — a disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. In MG, that attack interrupts the connection between nerve and muscle is what eventually ended his life.
The story Jeff shares in his own words by clicking on the link below.

On this Super Bowl Weekend be super caring for those you love and other  people who you encounter in making this world a better place than you found it, my dad did!

Here is Mel Blount another Steelers’ great that both my brother and I got to work with in being born and raised in western PA.

Have a wonderful Super Bowl weekend!  Support the Souper Bowl of Caring in your church community to help end hunger.

Susquehanna River prepare for flooding …

Presbyterian Media Mission went to West Pittson to show the coordinated mission disaster work by the Lackawanna Presbytery and the Synod of the Trinity with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance in this area prone for flooding along the Susquehanna River.

A 2011 flood devastated communities like West Pittson is something that people there have had to face before and with the thaw of ice jams here they go again.

Here are liinks about the current situation in the river communities.

Here is the video capturing 2011 Flood stories produced by PMM …

Here is a link to Lacnkawanna Presbytery …

Synod of the Trinity

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Our prayers are with our friends in West Pittson and other communities facing the rising waters today.

“A Holiday for All People” Dexter King

Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and remembering what it was created to stand for is as important today as when it was first recognized by our nation on January 1986, the first national Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday was observed in January 1986.

Listen to “All God’s Children” a reflection on the man and highlights of his life on Passages by clicking on the link below.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.)[1] is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.

King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.

The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations.[2] After King’s death, U.S. Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and U.S. Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage.[3] Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office).[3] Only two other figures have national holidays in the U.S. honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

Soon after, the King Center turned to support from the corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single “Happy Birthday” to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, termed by a 2006 article in The Nation as “the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history.”[2]

Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East (both North Carolina Republicans) led opposition to the holiday and questioned whether King was important enough to receive such an honor. Helms criticized King’s opposition to the Vietnam War and accused him of espousing “action-oriented Marxism”.[4] Helms led a filibuster against the bill and on October 3, 1983, submitted a 300-page document to the Senate alleging that King had associations with communists. New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan declared the document a “packet of filth”, threw it on the Senate floor and stomped on it.[5][6]

President Ronald Reagan originally opposed the holiday, citing cost concerns. When asked to comment on Helms’ accusations that King was a communist, the president said “We’ll know in thirty-five years, won’t we?”, in reference to the eventual release of FBI surveillance tapes that had previously been sealed.[7] But on November 2, 1983, Reagan signed a bill, proposed by Representative Katie Hall of Indiana, to create a federal holiday honoring King.[8][9] The bill had passed the House of Representatives by a count of 338 to 90, a veto-proof margin.[4] The holiday was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986.

The bill also established the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday Commission to oversee observance of the holiday, and the late Coretta Scott King, King’s wife, was made a member of this commission for life by President George H. W. Bush in May 1989.[10][11]

Celebrating the story of Martin Luther King, Jr.!

A Cold Night

Cold and wondering what to do for their children with Christmas soon to arrive!

On this frigid morning and temps not warming up to much lets go back to a Christmas Eve and experience a cold night for a simple family living in rural Virginia.

A cold story that will be bring out the warmth of love on Passages.

Listen to David tell in his own words about a freezing cold Christmas Eve for his family.

Stay warm!

Click on the button below to listen …