My PMM Friends & Pittsburgh Presbytery Partners,

It’s a desire to leave a place a little better than you found it. This is a letter meant to share what I know, what I’ve learned, and what small wisdom may help Presbyterian Media Mission’s (PMM) move further into the future.

But before I retire, I wanted to say one final thank you for the honor of serving as Director of PMM. Because all that I’ve learned in my time has helped me in many endeavors beyond the mission work I headed up for 36 years, I’ve learned much from many of you close-up and from a far. You made me a better person grounded in the faith and hope found in Jesus Christ!

Throughout these years, you have been the source of goodness, resilience, and hope from which I’ve pulled strength. I’ve seen neighbors and church communities take care of each other in new and wonderful ways just through permission given by PMM to do something new and creative in caring for one another in sharing God’s love.

I’ve struggled, mourned with grieved families searching for answers — and found grace in their allowing me to capture their stories through an interview for Passages.

I’ve been truly blessed meeting people and working with them from many different walks of life: Fred Rogers, David Newell (aka Mr. McFeely), Steve Allen (musician, author, actor, creator of the Tonight Show), Mike Farrell (M.A.S.H.), Ken Wales (Christy), Michael Rhodes (Christy, Romero), Sir John Templeton, Helen Walton, Terry Bradshaw, Edmond Nelson, Tunch Ilkin, Gary Anderson, John Stuper (World Series winning pitcher), John Fife, Ben & Carol Weir, Ken Bailey, Ken Hall, Gayraud Wilmore, Pat Brown (GA Moderator), Noel Paul Stookey, David Bailey, and a number of other people of what some would consider notoriety in life and faith.

I’ve learned from Dennis Benson that everyone has stories within them, to share with you and others, but there needs to be a sense of trust and comfort in telling their stories, then once the story is captured it is produced into a radio show. What a unique and meaningful service for listeners spanning 30 years.

I’ve had a paralyzed man tell of regaining his sense of touch, and a wounded woman shot in the head and left for dead tells her story of learning to walk again! What a powerful tribute of their willingness to share a demanding time in life that might just help someone else going through a difficulty.

I’ve seen people whose lives have been changed through the Church caring for them by helping them have access to medical care, and families whose lives have been changed because their marriages are recognized as equal to our own.

I’ve seen young teens through Survivors interviews remind me of their actions to care for those that don’t look like them, or work for peace, and, above all, to look out for each other as sisters and brothers in faith.

I’ve seen people discover a future unfold through celebrating “Free the Hostages, The Party Pentecost, Come In Out of the Cold at Advent, The Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive to keep a neighbor warm, Christian Leadership in the New Testament, and feeding the hungry during the summer through Home Runs for Hunger.” Campaigns and materials trying to help make a difference!

I’ve been helped by colleagues in producing award-winning productions “most importantly,” the real reward was the story shared and the impact it made on listeners/viewers/readers. It is hard to count, but having realized through quality feedback, much has been learned that led to improvement in telling stories over the years.

I’ve discovered highly valued electronic storytelling has benefited me with so many meaningful relationships that was never imagined when I first started down this path of ministry and mission. It was encouraged by Dennis & Marilyn Benson, Gordon Bean, Harold Scott, Jim Boos, Janet Edwards, Dottie Ingram, Ruth Rylander, Bill Rusch, Dick Sigler, John Silbert, Keith Conover, Dick Baker, Johnnie Monroe, Susan Vande Kappelle, Beth Merry, Joan & Roy Humphrey, Jon & Lynn Clark, Bill Wolfe, Steve Smith, Jim Mohr, Dennis Molnar, Ron Wanless, Herb Miller, Wayne Yost, Dave Dawson, Bruce Stevens, BJ Randolph, and so many others in over 4 decades with PMM in my having served on the Board of Directors and as the key staff person.

PMM has been a joyous work, a love most of the time, in trying to figure out the best way to say or do something that can bring meaning and purpose to peoples lives!

Not just when there’s a need for a story to be shared, not just when my own narrow interest was at stake, but over the full scope of a lifetime, to help folks from all walks of life experience through the love of God, change can and will happen.

I want to thank my wife Tina for being supportive with our three children by our sides through the years of serving the Church through PMM. Our church family at Crestview Community Presbyterian Church has been supportive in so many ways.

I plan to help when asked and not get in the way of the next steps for PMM.

And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: we are not perfect but are faithful in carrying out the need to share stories of faith and hope that are the most valuable asset in being Christ’s Church in the world today.

Take care,
Gregg Hartung