Category: Uncategorized

A Song About Laughter and Life

Driving to worship at church this morning I heard a song that captured my imagination in thinking about life and God!

I share it with you via this blog.

Regina Ilyinichna Spektor (/rɪˈnə ˈspɛktər/, Russian: Реги́нa Ильи́нична Спе́кторIPA: [rʲɪˈɡʲinə ˈspʲɛktər]; born February 18, 1980)[1] is a Russian-born American singer-songwriter and pianist. She was born in Moscow (former Soviet Union, now Russia), and began classical training on the piano at the age of six.[2] When she was nine and a half years old, her family emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States, where she continued her classical training into her teenage years; she began to write original songs shortly thereafter.

Regina Spektor – Wikipedia

Regina Ilyinichna Spektor (, Russian: Реги́нa Ильи́нична Спе́ктор, IPA: [rʲɪˈɡʲinə ˈspʲɛktər]; born February 18, 1980) is a Russian-born American singer-songwriter and pianist. She was born in Moscow (former Soviet Union, now Russia), and began classical training on the piano at the age of six.

What makes you laugh with God about life?

Presbyterian Media Mission

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.

“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.!

World Peace

An interview with Achol a peace builder from South Sudan shares a hope for peace at Christmas time from a country in the midst of famine and strife on Passages.

Click on the tab below for half-hour audio special from your friends at the Presbyterian Media Mission. It will be airing on the Passages network of 200 stations next weekend for Christmas!  Achol talks about the hope for peace in South Sudan.

Passages Lite version of Achol interview for the Internet by clicking on the audio button here …

Music featured in full length from Passages Prince of Peace Special below by clicking on the audio buttons ,,,

“Let There Be Peace on Earth” by B. E. Taylor

“A Good Place” by Voice of the Homeless

“Love” by Sixpence

“Mad About You” by Sting

We pray for peace in our families, in our communities, in our country, and in our world for 2018 and beyond!

Have a  Blessed and Merry Christmas from the PMM Leadership Team



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

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.

What do you want for your children’s world?

Jane is a cancer survivor who tells about what her and her husband’s feelings are regarding a world of hope despite her being diagnosed with breast cancer.  Jane’s Passages stories of hope during Breast Cancer Awareness month!

Click on the audio file below to listen to Jane’s Story Part One

Advances in screening and treatment have improved survival rates dramatically since 1989. There are around 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States (U.S.). The chance of any woman dying from breast cancer is around 1 in 37, or 2.7 percent.

Jane talks about hearing the Big “C” word and what do you do when cancer becomes part of your life?  Jane’s Story Part Two

In 2017, around 252, 710 new diagnoses of breast cancer are expected in women, and around 40,610 women are likely to die from the disease.

How can God allow so much to happen in Jane’s life for her and her family to deal with?  A father struggles and his wife rises above the challenges to see the “good” despite her needing to deal with cancer.  Jane’s Story Part Three on Passages

Awareness of the symptoms and the need for screening are important ways of reducing the risk of breast cancer and other cancers too.

We pray for all those facing the challenges of life and focus on those women and men who are dealing with breast cancer.




Tradgety Hits the Music Industry Again – Bennington

Chester Bennington lead singer for Linkin Park takes his life. To find out more about Linkin Park go to

More information on Chester Bennington suicide at

Another source on suicide by lead singer

Here is the response from the Linkin Park members and family on Chester’s death and responses from fans

Bennington was close friends with Chris Cornell from Sound Garden.

Survivors and Passages Stories on Suicide  …

On Passages Lenee takes us inside her depression that leads to her attempting to take her life … give a listen


Ann has faced a lot of death is her life experience. She shares on Survivors about thoughts on suicide … give a listen


There appears to still be some questions for investigators going on for both Chris Cornell’s and Chester Bennington’s deaths. We pray for resolve for their family, friends and fans.