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.


Meet Ellen Vosburg, Youth Ministry Coordinator & Ministry Intern


Ellen Vosburg began working for Church of the Savior as our Youth Ministry Coordinator on August 1st, and she also serves as Savior's Ministry Intern (2018-19). As Ellen begins her work on staff, she answered some questions so we can get to know her better.

Where do you live and where are you from?
I live in downtown Elmhurst with my husband, Dawson, and miniature schnauzer, Andromeda (or Drom). I am from rural Oklahoma, where I played tuba in the marching band my junior year of high school.

What do you do when you’re not at church?
I love to read, and I expend most of my mental energy angling for ways to spend more time reading books. My husband and I enjoy cooking together and finding fun new places to eat. We also spend a lot of time with family and friends; we like to play games and eat ice cream together.

What's the best book you read during the last 5 years?
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov. This is the first and only book I’ve read by Nabokov, and I was expecting to hate it, but I absolutely loved it. Nabokov’s creative command and deployment of the English language is gripping, and I found myself weeping over the circumstances of the main character at the climax of the book (which is rare for me).  

What's your favorite quote?
"If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving one be me." — W.H. Auden
How does youth ministry connect to the life of the whole congregation?
The spiritual formation of young people is vital to the life of the church, not simply for the future but for our present life together. I think teenagers who love Jesus and have a strong conviction for serving the world through the church can inject any congregation with an extra special gift of passion. They’re an important part of what it means for us to all be part of the family of God, and it’s a privilege to participate in this time in their growth. 

How can people get involved in youth ministry?
Tell me you love teenagers, and I’m sure there would be a place for you! Young people need all kinds of adults to surround them and invest in their faith, so there are a myriad of ways to be part of youth ministry, no matter who you are or what you are particularly gifted to do.