Category: Passages

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.

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!

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 …



Thank You!

A car craxh gains insight about life and death for a young female reporter on KQV 1410 AM in Pittsburgh. Dennis Benson interviews the reporter about her car accident on Passages.

Click on the link here to listen to a young Elaine Effort tell for her surviving a serious car crash on Passages ….

Elaine Effort is honored for her years of reporting by Pittsburgh City Council recently. Check the link out here.

Honoring a ‘trailblazer’: Pittsburgh City Council honors KQV reporter Elaine Effort

Dan Gilman couldn’t remember her ever getting a fact wrong. Theresa Kail-Smith called her the personification of grace and class. The Rev. Ricky Burgess …

KQV one of the early radio stations to air Passages in 1981 was where Dennis Benson got his start on radio in Pittsburgh. Dennis hosted a youth-oriented conversation on the station called Rap Around. KQV at the time was one of the own and operated stations by ABC and was a top-40 m,sic station that captured that audience with some of the leading radio DJs of that time … Chuck Brinkman, Perry Marsahll, and Jim Quinn to name just a few.

KQV went silent at midnight last night as we closed out 2017! To learn more about it go to the link here.

Passages aired this past weekend on KQV with the Roberto Clemente story from New Years Eve 1972. To listen to the Passages Roberto Clemente story click here ….

The Passages Team and PMM thank Elaine and our many friends at KQV for allowing our stories of faith and hope to share on their airwaves with listeners  for over 35 year!

Number 21 and the name Roberto …

We flashback to New Years Eve 1972 as Roberto Clemente, Jr.  starts there to tell some of the major highlights of his dad’s life that had as much an impact on the baseball diamond as it did in many peoples lives who were living on the margins.  On Passages we remember Roberto Clemente this weekend.

Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker[a] (Spanish pronunciation: [roˈβeɾto enˈrike kleˈmente (g)walˈkeɾ]; August 18, 1934 – December 31, 1972) was a Puerto Rican professional baseball right fielder who played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973, becoming the first Latin American and Caribbean player to be enshrined. His untimely death established the precedent that, as an alternative to the five-year retirement period, a player who has been deceased for at least six months is eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame.

Clemente was an All-Star for twelve seasons, playing in fifteen All-Star Games.[b] He was the NL Most Valuable Player in 1966, the NL batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967, and a Gold Glove Award winner for twelve consecutive seasons from 1961 through 1972. His batting average was over .300 for thirteen seasons and he had 3,000 hits during his major league career. He also played in two World Series championships. Clemente is the first Latin American and Caribbean player to help win a World Series as a starter (1960), to receive an NL MVP Award (1966), and to receive a World Series MVP Award (1971).

Clemente was married in 1964; he and his wife had three children. He was involved in charity work in Latin American and Caribbean countries during the off-seasons, often delivering baseball equipment and food to those in need. On December 31, 1972, he died in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He was 38 years old.

Click on the audio button below to listen to Roberto Clemente, Jr. share his dad’s story in his own words on Passages.

Have a blessed and a humanitarian 2018 from the Presbyterian Media Mission (PMM) and the Passages Team!

Please continue to pray for the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico from the recent hurricanes.

Presbytery leader in Puerto Rico reports on damage from Hurricane Maria | Presbyterian Mission Agency

The Rev. Edwin González-Castillo, Stated Clerk of the San Juan Presbytery in Puerto Rico, says the biggest challenge he is facing in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is communications. Attempting to reach and coordinate relief efforts across the island has been hampered by downed communication lines outside of San Juan, infrastructure damage due to flooding and ongoing concerns about fuel shortages.



Becoming Family at Christmas

There is a spirit of love and wanting to come together at Christmas time. As family and being together is sometimes a challenge in leaving go of the past and being in the present.

Here are three different stories of George, Megan, and Dan all embraced by the original Christmas story that happened with a child being born on one holy night in that little town of Bethelehem so many years ago.

George recalls growing up and his dad getting the candles out to celebrate Christmas Eve. It seemed so unusual but now he appreciates the tradition. He recalls a Christmas Eve years ago in his own words by clicking on the audio button below.

Dan, a rock star, tells about a special family Christmas by clicking on the audio button .

Megan attempts to create a  nuclear family at Christmas. Listen to see if it explodes by clicking on the audio button below to hear her story.

The late actress Helen Hays reading that story of a family so long ago.  Listen by clicking on the audio button below.

The late BE Taylor found Christmas music captivating and put his own jazz-rock-funk spin on a classic “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” Give a listen by clicking on the audio button below.

Have a blessed Christmas from the Passages Team at PMM.  (Dennis, Bill, Kodo, Bud, Gregg, and some special volunteers who have helped through the years!)

The gift of stories!

We will bring to you over the next week stories of Christmas.  Helping us all to appreciate the blessings that come each and everyday into our lives.

Enjoy this first installment from your Presbyterian friends at Media Mission!

Caroline shares about her grandfather and how he made Christmas special.  Clip on audio tab below ….

David and his wife find that living simply in the wilderness can be a challenge on a long cold winter night.  Listen to him tell about a Christmas Eve that they’ll never forget by clicking on the audio tab below ….

Robert finds himself in the Holy Land with those picturesque adobe houses and desert just like long ago when Jesus was born.  He is home sick but finds a kindred spirit through music!  Listen to his story by clicking on the audio tab below ….

Vicky is depressed and wants out of the hospital for Christmas!  The doctor is willing to let her go home if her blood count is right.  Listen and find out if Vicky is able to go home for Christmas by clicking on the audio button below.

What are your stories of the season?  Please consider sharing them with those you encounter who may need a story of hope and faith this Christmas., It just might be the best gift you give!

Have a blessed Christmas!  Audio tab below music by BE Taylor “Feel the Love at Christmas!”

From the Presbyterian Media Mission Leadership Team.

Give a gift to Presbyterian Media Mission this year by selecting the You Can Make A Difference Donate button on this page.  Select Presbyterian Media Mission from the options listed.

Thank you for giving!