Category: Features

International Visitors Partner with Congregations

The International Partnership Ministry Team of Pittsburgh Presbytery exists in order to help strengthen and encourage the church for faithful and fruitful discipleship in Pittsburgh Presbytery, the Synod of Blantyre, the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church and beyond.  Here is a link to more information on this ministry and mission of Pittsburgh Presbytery’s International Partnerships  https://pghpip.org/

Recently from October 11 through October 23 there were 16 Malawians https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malawi and 4 South Sudanese https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Sudan  who visited Pittsburgh area congregations to share in Christian Fellowship in a variety of ways in a number of different locations.

On the final morning (October 23) 3 members of the partnership (2 from Malawi and 1 from Pittsburgh) were invited to share about the partnership between congregations on WESA-FM 90.5 (Pittsburgh’s NPR Radio station).  The show is “The Confluence” (local daily radio program, Monday thru Friday at 9 a.m.) and the part of the program segment featuring partnership friends starts about the 23:45 mark in the audio file.  Click on the link below the picture for the article and the audio file to listen too.

Illah Nourbakhsh Wants To Empower Citizens And Scientists To ‘CREATE’ Socially Conscious Tech

Carnegie Mellon University professor Illah Nourbakhsh caught the robot bug at an early age, and as the director of CMU’s CREATE Lab, he’s influencing a technologically fluent generation to harness their energy for socially meaningful innovation. He shares his journey and what he’s hoping for the years ahead.

We are thankful for those African friends who traveled to the U.S. and Pittsburgh that gave us faith and hope in how we live together as Christians separated by thousands of miles, brought closer to together through God’s love for all people.

We thank our friends at WESA 90.5 FM for their allowing the wider community to hear and learn about International Partnership between Malawi, South Sudan, and U.S. in Christian love for each other.  http://www.wesa.fm/#stream/0

 

 


Fred Rogers Ordination “Celebrating 50 Years of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”

Fred Rogers shares on Passages (audio) about the philosophy and theology of Mister Rogers Neighborhood TV program as we celebrate 50 years of the program on WQED.  Click on audio button below …

Here is a link to the new 15 second TV Spot where Fred Rogers in his own words shares about being ordained a minister of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. by Pittsburgh Presbytery. This is after he took classes at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary over his lunch hour for a number of years. Click on the link here to watch the spot produced by PMM for this 50 years of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood being on WQED. Click on link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4GUA2GEEUw

How about Google doing an animated video on Fred walking through the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to celebrate 51 years of the show being on TV?  Click on the link here to enjoy the animated walk through the neighborhood.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd7X0NsOeRk

Fred talking about when his dog Mitzy died and telling how the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood TV program in sharing that story helped a young mother and her daughters.  How the show truly ministered to children and their families on Passages.

Other notable media links to Fred Rogers TV and media legacy below. 

The Mister Rogers Documentary is a Manifesto for Healing America
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” says everything our country needs to hear about self-esteem, common decency, and loving people for who they are.

https://medium.com/@kristiyorkwooten/the-mister-rogers-documentary-is-a-manifesto-for-healing-america-3ebeefcdeba1

Movie Review on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” by The Rev. Dr. Darrell Knopp
http://presbymediamission.org/2018/07/15/wont-you-be-my-neighbor-fred-rogers/

On May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers, host of the (then) recently nationally syndicated children’s television series, Mister Rogers’ appears in front of Congress on the need to support Public Television … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKy7ljRr0AA

Fred Rogers acceptance speech 1997 Emmy Awards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jMeby5ZIJs

Fred Rogers is inducted into the TV Hall of Fame. Jeff Erlanger, who appeared on Mister Rogers Neighborhood in 1981, surprises Fred … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3vp-EXQ5Rs&t=350s

Fred Rogers Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P__SLhGTfz0

Fred talking with late night host David Letterman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKjKZKpEkVY

Garden of Your Mind remix by PBS Studios https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFzXaFbxDcM

Fred Rogers talking with Charlie Rose … “How do we allow for silence in a noisy world” on PBS  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djoyd46TVVc

Fred Rogers’ at 2002 Dartmouth College Commencement Address https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=907yEkALaAY

Mr. Rogers Talks With Parents About Discipline https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBtEzr_Ifv0

Fred Rogers … Look for the helpers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNpa352mVQk

Passages featuring Fred Rogers

Fred talking about the death of his Dog Mitzy … click on the audio link below …

Fred shares on feature length Passages (27 minutes)  about his life and faith … Click on audio button below …

Celebrating the life and legacy of the Rev. Fred Rogers, thanks Fred!


God Sightings – Pentecost 2018

Friday started out full of death and destruction in Santa Fe, TX.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/18/us/texas-school-shooting-victims/index.html

Our prayers go out to families, friends, and the entire community for those who died and were wounded in this tragedy. We also pray for the young man who because of possible delusions and mental instability did this horrible act of violence.

Saturday came with an over-the-top experience of the Royal Wedding bringing hope to the world found in the love that is in and through God in Jesus Christ. Love is much stronger than evil in this world!

Sunday evening the Billboard Music Awards you heard the person recognized for her volume of work in the music industry and her humanitarian efforts Janet Jackson. She speaks of God!

The religious and the secular come together to lift-up and give the God of love the attention and share the need for a redemptive healing love in the world for all people!

Do I hear an amen! For a profound and powerful Pentecost that only God can orchestrate through our looking back on it to see the holy imprint.

Gregg Hartung, Director
Presbyterian Media Mission

 


“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

immigration-quotes-george-w-bush

“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.

 


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 https://www.mda.org/disease/myasthenia-gravis 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.

https://souperbowl.org/welcome


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.

http://www.pahomepage.com/news/businesses-and-residents-near-susquehanna-river-prepare-for-flooding/937462095

http://citizensvoice.com/news/ice-jam-on-susquehanna-causes-flooding-roads-schools-closing-1.2294036

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBDsQNIkbzI

Here is a link to Lacnkawanna Presbytery …

http://www.lackawannapresby.org/

Synod of the Trinity http://www.syntrinity.org

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance   http://pda.pcusa.org/

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


Help Puerto Rico

The island has been devastated by Hurricane Maria and needs the help from others to bring life back to some type of normalcy.  A family that has been helpful all along on the island with young people and the poor are the Clemente’s.  Vera Clemente and her sons carry on the legacy of her late husband Roberto Clemente with Sports City but now they need our help with much more for those in need.

Inspired by Roberto Clemente, Pittsburgh steps up to help hurricane victims

When in a crisis, what would Roberto Clemente do? He would step up and pay it forward, that’s what Duane Rieder, curator and executive director of the Roberto Clemente Museum says. Pittsburghers had this in mind Sunday as it came together at the museum to gather donations to aid Puerto Ricans struggling to recover after Hurricane Maria.

 

The Clemente family has always been about helping others.  Listen to Roberto Jr. tell about his dad’s dream of Sports City helping young people on the island in giving them hope for the future.  The late Roberto Clemente, a great baseball player and humanitarian helped Pittsburgh become well known for sports. Listen to Roberto Jr. share about his dad and family on Passages stories of hope and inspiration.  Click on the audio button below.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is helping in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico that got impacted by the recent hurricanes.  To help click on the link below.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is the emergency and refugee program of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.


Relationships trumps Symbols

What about symbols in our lives?

Do you know that early Christians used the Good Shepherd as their symbol to guide them?

The cross was used as a form of execution by the Roman Empire. How could a Christian feel comfortable in the cross being used for a symbol of their faith at that time? So for the first three-hundred years of the Christian movement it was the Good Shepherd as the symbol. Watch the late Dr. Kenneth Bailey share about the Good Shepherd being the symbol for early Christians.

 

What makes you uncomfortable or comfortable with the symbols in life?

How does symbols draw us together or divide us?

Can symbols be used inappropriately?

How do symbols help us in relating to one another?

When I studied one summer in Salzburg , Austria at the university there we traveled to Dachau the Jewish concentration camp. It was explained to us that the Allies required that the camps never turn the stark human tragedy that happened here into beautified museums or parks. They are to be harsh reminders, a symbol to help with the Holocaust never happening again.

How are symbols part of a consumer oriented society and what impact does that have on symbols?

There are a number of people who recognize the cross only as a piece of jewelry, tattoo or artwork in society today. One person said, “there are buildings with those on but I don’t know what goes on there.” Another person simply said , “I don’t know what the cross stands for!”

In marriage rings symbolize the love between two people.

Where are you at with the symbols in your life?

Are the symbols so central to who you are that they stand in the way of the common good?

Lots of questions you and I can struggle with to find an answer to the issues around symbols. The answer or possible answers will no doubt raise more questions.

The Apostle Paul and the Statue to an Unknown God  Read Acts 17 for more reflection.
Scripture: “Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination. of mortals.”


Racism, the Internet and Society

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”- Malcolm X

Two years ago Theo Wilson, a Black man, created a fake online profile to find out what happens in the life of a white supremacist as a digital troll. He learned where they get their misinformation and revisionist history lessons from.

Theo Wilson on TED Talk about his experience of going undercover as a white supremacist.  Click on the link below.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/25/theo-wilson-undercover-white-supremacy/

“White folks created white supremacy which is perhaps the greatest evil of our time, then out of greed and fear proceeded to openly support it by pretending it’s not there. And it is exactly that profound neglect of us not addressing white supremacy as to why people of color are still being lynched and receiving social, psychological, economical and institutional injustice and inequality. As white folks we have to realize that we need to address this for our interest as well. The cost to all involved is enormous. We will never be a peaceful or functional society living out lies. Everything has a way of coming back full circle and realistically how much longer do you think our society can tolerate this great evil called white supremacy? Isn’t it about time as white folks we stop being racially selfish and lazy and stand up and do something about it? Remember Ignorance is bliss until it bites you in the ass.” excerpt from writing by Dixon White

(Dixon D. White is an anti-racist video blogger, activist, actor, and essayist. Dixon was raised as a racist in the Deep South but learned to reject his white supremacist programming because of his personal life experiences.)

Football Player Racially Profiled by Police

Seattle Seahawks star defensive end Michael Bennett has accused police officers of racial profiling, saying they pointed guns at him and used excessive force during an incident in Las Vegas last month.
Bennett, 31, told reporters that the incident was “a traumatic experience for me and my family.” Earlier in the day, he announced he is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit.
“It sucks that in the country that we live in now, sometimes you get profiled for the color of your skin,” Bennett said in a news conference. “It’s a tough situation for me. Do I think every police officer is bad? No, I don’t believe that. Do I believe there’s some people out there that judge people on the color of their skin? I do believe that.”
ESPN Story on Michael Bennett …

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/20604486/michael-bennett-seattle-seahawks-accuses-las-vegas-police-excessive-force-considering-civil-lawsuit

Young peoples voices reflecting on what makes America special!  Insight from Jim Wallis on growing up and knowing what’s right.   Press on the audio tab below ….

Romans 2:11 “For God does not show favoritism.”


Waking Up White

“One of the most important books on race in recent memory.”

Presbyterian Outlook article … the experience of two congregations with the book …

http://pres-outlook.org/2017/06/learning-one-another-two-churches-write-way-waking-white/

 

Waking Up White the book

http://www.debbyirving.com/the-book/

 

A reflection from Lafayette Richardson on Passages about prejudice and racism ….

 

 

What are your inner most feelings about people who are different?

Where, when and how do you believe these feelings were formed?

When does your inner most bias towards another race or person with a different skin color than you come out?

How has racism changed for you and those around you on this passage known as life?