“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”
When I asked a few High School students recently who they think is or was the kindest person in the world (other than Jesus) they said either Martin Luther King Jr or Mother Theresa. No one mentioned Fred Rogers (who was on the top of my list). It never occurred to me that they are all too young to have ever seen his show!
So I looked it up and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood premiered February 19, 1968 and went off the air 2 years before his death in 2001, 15 years ago!
And did you know a few years before he died, Fred Rogers’s car was stolen in Philadelphia where he lived? A reporter got hold of the police report and TV’s broadcast it over all the Philadelphia stations where it was seen by thousands, including the person who stole his car. Within 48 hours the car was back with a note from the thief saying "If I’d known it was yours, I never would have taken it!" I bet the respect the thief felt was born out of the kindness that Mr. Rogers showed.
Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian Minister and I can’t help but think that when he came up with his theme song he was thinking of Jesus. Jesus Christ who wants all of us to be neighbors and live a life full of compassion and kindness as God’s children.
Soon we hope to have a new neighbor and pastor residing in the manse. The transition team has significantly narrowed down the search and will be interviewing the final candidates, probably as you read this!
Our new neighbor will be a minister who will have experience and special training as an Interim to help us provide stability and discern our vision for the future of First Pres. This is a specialized ministry which can be very isolating at times. As one Interim minister said “it is a temporary position, and I knew I would be leaving, but it still stings when saying goodbye”. It will be up to all of us to be kind and welcoming in other words, a good neighbor!
Joan Davies for the Transition Team