I recently found a little book in the bargain shelf at a local Christian bookstore. The book looked corny, but I was intrigued. You can find my review of it on Amazon.com. The book was about Mister Rogers, from the PBS children’s series. Fred Rogers was an ordained minister in the United Presbyterian Church. He attended seminary at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary many years before I did.
According to the book, there was a struggle whether he would be ordained since he was not pastoring a congregation. To be honest, I don’t think I would have voted to ordain him. All Christians are called to service. Ordination is for particular ministry--the ministry of Word and Sacrament, deacons, and ruling elders. To ordain outside of those particular ministries suggests something less than the priesthood of all believers. Ordination is no longer for the sake of the church, but instead it becomes a reward for theological education or for doing really good works. There should be no hierarchy within the church. The person who digs ditches to the glory of God is doing something just as important as the person who runs a soup kitchen. Ordination is about taking on the yoke of Christ for the care of his church.
But I digress. Fred Rogers was ordained with the understanding that he would develop a children’s program as an outreach for the denomination. Only later would denominational officials call Fred Rogers and inform him that the money did not exist for his program. What a missed opportunity. With Fred Rogers at the helm, Presbyterians could have expressed on television Christ‘s loving words, “Let the children come to me.” The Lutherans had a cool show in Davey and Goliath. It remains one the best investments in children’s religious broadcasting. Why couldn’t the Presbyterians have done that?