Monthly archives: September, 2017

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.

Good Shepherd 1 Study1 Shepherd

Ken Bailey takes us inside various elements of shepherding in the Middle East and all the dynamics that go with the Good Shepherd image in the Old and New Testament. How are we to be Good Shepherds as leaders in the Church?


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.

“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 …

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.”

Farm Aid and the Good Food Movement

This past weekend Farm Aid was held in Western PA just outside of Pittsburgh, PA .  This special event was sold out months in advance of September 16.

Each year, Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host a Farm Aid concert to bring together a wide variety of artists, farmers and fans for one mission: keeping family farmers on the land. Farm Aid is an all-day festival that brings together incredible music, good food and hands-on activities to get folks in touch with the roots of our food. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $50 million to help family farmers thrive all over the country while inspiring millions of people to take part in the Good Food Movement. Click on the link below for Farm Aid through the years.


Good Food Movement and Farm Aid (Click on the link below.)

Passages stories from Ann and Jim who are family farmers who care about the land.

Listen to Jim and Ann tell about the circle of life on the family farm and the interest people have in wanting to experience it. Click on the audio tab below to listen …

Another story from the family farm by Jim. Not all changes are good for the family farm. Jim shares his thoughts on what is happening to the family farm on Passages by pressing on the audio tab below.

Ann shares how the family is pitching in together to save the farm. Click on the audio tab below.

The plight of the family farm is an on-going struggle and our prayers go out to those families who still have the hope and opportunities to plow the earth.

Watch Dave Matthews performs new song at Farm Aid 2017  (Click on the link below.)

Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Farmaid 2017 New Song “Do You Remember “

Uploaded by Mike Jones on 2017-09-17.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.

Remembering Dan Rooney

It often is said that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree!  Well it is true with the Rooney family.  Dan Rooney and the stories we heard Sunday before and after the Steelers Home Opener had former and today”s players pay tribute to him and the Rooney family for a winning tean and culture created for the City of Pittsburgh and  the region that loves their black and gold.

Listen to Art Rooney Senior talk about his humble approach to life, faith and how he wants to be remembered on Passages stories of faith and hope.  Press the audio button below to give a listen.


An Irish Blessing that best fits the Rooney legacy “May your day be touched by a bit of Irish luck, brightened by a song in your heart, and warmed by the smiles of the people you love.”


Living on the Edge – Alyssa “Living with Mental Illness”

To be a woman dealing with manic depression is a real challenge to live with it and then try to help people to understand what being mentally ill is about.  Listen to her story of hope and possibility by pressing the arrow tab below …

Bipolar disorder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bipolar disorder
Synonyms Bipolar affective disorder, bipolar illness, manic depression, bipolar disease[1]
Comedy and tragedy masks without background.svg
Bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of depression and mania.
Specialty Psychiatry
Symptoms Periods of depression and elevated mood[2][3]
Complications Suicideself-harm[2]
Usual onset 25 years old[2]
Causes Environmental and genetic[2]
Risk factors Childhood abuse, long-term stress[2]
Similar conditions Attention deficit hyperactivity disorderpersonality disordersschizophreniasubstance use disorder[2]
Treatment Psychotherapymedications[2]
Medication Lithiumantipsychoticsanticonvulsants[2]
Frequency 1-3%[2][4]

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of elevated mood.[2][3] The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present.[2] During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable.[2] Individuals often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences.[3] The need for sleep is usually reduced during manic phases.[3] During periods of depression, there may be crying, a negative outlook on life, and poor eye contact with others.[2] The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than 6 percent over 20 years, while self-harm occurs in 30–40 percent.[2] Other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and substance use disorder are commonly associated.[2]

The causes are not clearly understood, but both environmental and genetic factors play a role.[2] Many genes of small effect contribute to risk.[2][5] Environmental factors include a history of childhood abuse, and long-term stress.[2] The condition is divided into bipolar I disorder if there has been at least one manic episode, with or without depressive episodes, and bipolar II disorder if there has been at least one hypomanic episode (but no manic episodes) and one major depressive episode.[3] In those with less severe symptoms of a prolonged duration, the condition cyclothymic disorder may be diagnosed.[3] If due to drugs or medical problems, it is classified separately.[3] Other conditions that may present in a similar manner include attention deficit hyperactivity disorderpersonality disordersschizophrenia, and substance use disorder as well as a number of medical conditions.[2] Medical testing is not required for a diagnosis, though blood tests or medical imaging can be done to rule out other problems.[6]

Treatment commonly includes psychotherapy, as well as medications such as mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.[2] Examples of mood stabilizers that are commonly used include lithium and various anticonvulsants.[2] Treatment in a hospital without the individual’s consent may be required if a person is at risk to themselves or others but refuses treatment.[2] Severe behavioral problems, such as agitation or combativeness, may be managed with short term antipsychotics or benzodiazepines.[2] In periods of mania it is recommended that antidepressants be stopped.[2] If antidepressants are used for periods of depression they should be used with a mood stabilizer.[2] Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), while not very well studied, may be helpful for those who do not respond to other treatments.[2][7] If treatments are stopped, it is recommended that this be done slowly.[2] Many individuals have financial, social or work-related problems due to the illness.[2] These difficulties occur a quarter to a third of the time on average.[2] The risk of death from natural causes such as heart disease is twice that of the general population.[2] This is due to poor lifestyle choices and the side effects from medications.[2]

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 1% of the global population.[8] In the United States about 3% are estimated to be affected at some point in their life.[4] The most common age at which symptoms begin is 25.[2] Rates appear to be similar in females and males.[9] The economic costs of the disorder has been estimated at $45 billion for the United States in 1991.[10] A large proportion of this was related to a higher number of missed work days, estimated at 50 per year.[10] People with bipolar disorder often face problems with social stigma.

We pray for those in our families and communities who suffer with mental illness.  May they get the care and love needed to deal with the pushes and pulls of life.



Glory Days of the 70’s Steelers

Pro Football Hall of Fame Corner Back Mel Blount shares some thoughts on the early days as the Pttsburgh Steelers begin to turn from a perennial loser to a winning team with leadership by Head Coach Chuck Noll.   Noll created not only a winning team but a culture that has led to the Steelers being one of the most consistent winning teams through the years since the 70’s.  How does a culture in business, sports, and other organizations makes for success?

Listen to Mel Blount share some memories of his time with the Steelers by clicking on the audio button below …

What helped Anthony Griggs as a football player make the NFL?  Listen to the audio file below …

Carl is a motivational coach and shares a story about former NFL great Reggie White when he talks about building a winning team.  Listen to Carl tell his story by pressing the audio tab below …

May your successes in life be about helping others to be the best that they can be!


Remembering Flight 427 – 23 Years Ago ….

USAir Flight 427 was a scheduled flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to Pittsburgh International Airport, with a final destination of West Palm Beach, Florida. On Thursday, September 8, 1994, the Boeing 737 flying this route crashed while approaching runway 28R of Pittsburgh International Airport, located in Findlay Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which at the time was the largest hub for the airline.

After the longest investigation in the history of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), it was determined that the probable cause was that the aircraft’s rudder malfunctioned and went hard-over in a direction opposite to that commanded by the pilots, causing the plane to enter an aerodynamic stall from which the pilots were unable to recover. All 132 people on board the aircraft were killed.


Passages remembers from an interview with Donna Kazan-White a daughter sharing about the loss of her father on Flight 427.
Donna struggles with the crash she lost her dad in every time there is a plane crash. Listen to Donna explain on Passages by clicking on the audio tab below …

The families of Flight 427 get close to the rescue workers and appreciate the care of first responders in there work to save and recover lives. Click on the audio button below to listen …

Grief makes an impact when suddenly a family member is lost in an unexpected tragedy. Empathy allows for family members of Flight 427 to support each other. Listen to their bonding with each other by pressing on the audio button below …

What will I not have with my father? Grief is a journey. Appreciating what we do have. The importance of a church home, a church family is part of my memories and life. Listen Donna explain in her own words on Passages by pressing on the audio button below.

Remember to care for and support others along lifes journey!


Escaping Irma

We are praying for all of those people already devastated by Hurricane Irma and displaced by the storm.


We share our thoughts and concerns for people evacuating Florida.

We care about the first responders who are in place to help with those impacted by the pending disaster.

We listen to Desiree’s story of leaving her home to escape the terrible storm on our special series of real life audio stories by people sharing in their own words on “Life After the Storm.”

We thank all of you who have responded to the need in the Houston, TX from Hurricane Harvey!

Real life award-winning stories are from your Presbyterian, United Methodist, and Mennonite friends.





What’s in a Name?

When the name is Roberto Clemente it speaks volumes especially in Pittsburgh, PA!

The world has adopted Roberto Clemente. But he has always belonged to Pittsburgh. This is where he left footprints in the grass before sprouting angel’s wings, so Clemente Day isn’t a formality in this city; it’s a sacred rite.

Today is Roberto Clemente Day and people are serving people in communities throughout the city remembering this world class athlete and humanitarian .


We pay tribute to the baseball great and world re known humanitarian with words from his son Roberto Clemente, Jr. on Passages.

Click on the audio button below to listen and keep those recovering from Hurricane Harvey and those preparing for Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico and Florida in your thoughts and prayers. This is where Roberto would want our attention. So pray, act, and give to the efforts to help all those people impacted from the recent storms.

We thank Roberto Jr. and Vera for their continuing to share the legacy with us of Roberto Clemente to be a strong role model for generations of young people impacted by his life that was cut to short.




Educate and Train People for the Future …

Labor Day feature from a Passages interview with Mama Maida Springer Kemp.  She was an historic labor leader who cared and made advances for people through the union movement in the U.S. and abroad.

n the 1950s she began working for the AFL as an adviser to newly founded labor unions in Tanzania, Kenya, and Ghana, where she came to be known as “Mama Maida”.[3] In 1951, sponsored by the American Labor Education Service, she traveled to Sweden and Denmark to observe workers’ education programs. She then took an eight-month hiatus from ILGWU to study at Ruskin Labor College, Oxford University, on an Urban League Fellowship. In 1955 she attended the first International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) conference in Accra, Ghana, as one of five observers, of which she was the only woman. In 1957 she played a key role in the founding of Solidarity House in Nairobi.[2]

In 1959 she went to work for the AFL-CIO‘s Department of International Affairs as its representative to Africa. For the next several years she made her home alternately in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya), and Brooklyn, New York. She started an exchange program for Africans to study at Harvard University, founded a trade school in Kenya whose mission included expanding opportunities for women, established a post-secondary scholarship for Tanzanian girls, and started the Maida Fund to enable farm workers in East Africa to return to school.[5] In the course of her work she befriended many of Africa’s emerging leaders, including Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Between 1957 and 1963, she attended the national independence ceremonies of Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya.[2]

In 1964 she represented the U.S. at the 48th Session of the International Labour Organization conference in Geneva. In 1966 she resumed working as a general organizer for ILGWU. Later she worked for the A. Philip Randolph Institute.[2]

In the 1970s, as a consultant for the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI), she worked with trade unions in Turkey, where she helped introduce women into the labor movement by establishing the Women’s Bureau of TÜRK-İŞ. Initially her efforts were met with resistance by male union leaders who wanted women to participate in the organizing work, but had little interest in the concerns of women workers, such as equal pay, equal opportunity, and child care. She also worked in Indonesia to get more women involved in the labor movement.[7] She attended International Women’s Year conferences in Mexico and Nairobi in 1975, and the Pan African Conference on the Role of Trade Union Women in 1977.

Give a listen to Mrs. kemp’s story on Passages celebrating Labor Day ….

Pray for workers and our leaders to do the best for those in need the most for making a living to sustain life for them and their families.