children

Be My Neighbor: Ministry and Mr. Rogers

Often, when I meet a person and they ask me what I do, I tell them that I am the Pastor of Family Ministries at an Anglican church, which usually leads to the question, “What exactly does that mean?” and until recently I struggled to put into a few words what it is that I do. 

Recently I watched the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor about the life and work of Fred Rogers, or Mr. Rogers as most of us know him. I did not grow up in the United States, so my exposure to his television show was limited to the times we came to visit family. I remember really liking his program and loved seeing him come in, take off his coat and shoes and put on a sweater and tennis shoes. There was something so comforting about that routine. I loved the trolley, the puppets and the guests he had on his show. I don’t remember too many details about the content itself, but when I remember the show, I feel a sense of peace and happiness.

Now as an adult, and after watching the documentary, my appreciation for Mr. Rogers has grown. He truly was an advocate for children and a great resource and support for parents. He wasn’t afraid to talk about any topic with children, and he had a beautiful way of helping children navigate the uncertainties of life.  However, as I watched the documentary I was struck by the fact that he was not only that way with children, he was the same person with anyone he met. He had a gift for helping people feel safe and loved. 

As I think about my own job of Pastor of Family Ministries, I hope to be someone that helps all people feel safe and loved, but particularly children, youth and their parents. My hope is that as families come to church, they feel seen and heard. My prayer is that as parents navigate the joys and stresses of parenting, they know that they are not alone, but that a community is journeying with them. I hope that as children encounter God’s word, they have the freedom to ask questions and to wonder; and as our youth discover who God has created them to be, they feel encouraged to serve in different areas and they find adults willing to come along side them. My deepest desire is that when families come to Church of the Savior, they feel welcomed and know that they are safe and loved. 

So, next time someone asks me, “What exactly does it mean to be the Pastor of Family Ministries?” I think I will say, “It’s a little bit like being Mr. Rogers at my church.”


Mary Gonzalez is our Pastor of Family Ministries and has worked at Savior since its beginning in 2004.

Mary Gonzalez is our Pastor of Family Ministries and has worked at Savior since its beginning in 2004.

 
 

Grief Resources for Children

Savior’s Coordinator of Youth Ministries, Ellen Vosburg, has suggested some activities and resources for helping children process grief. With the death of Marilyn Stewart and the grief our church family is feeling, we hope these resources can be helpful as we talk with the children of Savior.

Suggestions:

  • Spend some time over the next weeks and months sharing memories and stories that you and your children have about Marilyn. Share with one another the ways Marilyn influenced your lives and was a friend or spiritual mother or grandmother. Talk about how important she was to who we are today, both as individual families and as a church family.

  • Read Scripture about death and the resurrection together. Good passages to read and reflect on together are Isaiah 25:6-9, John 11:1-44, 1 Corinthians 15:1-58, and Revelation 21:1-7. Observe together what God thinks about death. Be open with one another about the way death makes us feel. Notice how God promises life eternal for his disciples and remember how we will all be with God together in our resurrected bodies. Imagine together what our resurrected bodies might be like.

Resources:

  • “Talking with My Kids about Death” (Christianity Today): In this article, the author recounts how her children responded to the death of their uncle. She gives good advice about how to lean into children’s questions, wonderings, and imaginings about death.

  • “Good Grief” (Fuller Youth Institute): This article discusses how to help students grieve any loss well. The article is aimed at youth workers, but the principles would be helpful for parents, too. It discusses some tendencies we have when people are grieving that are best to avoid, and then recounts some principles of memory sharing and hopefulness that help students grieve well.

  • “The Dos and Don’ts of Talking with a Child about Death” (Psychology Today): This article provides some helpful dos and don’ts about how your child or teen might react to death and provides suggestions for how to come alongside them in your own grief.

Savior member Alice Teisan also suggests the resources found at GriefShare.