I settled onto the sofa last week for an hour of PBS. While earlier scrolling the evening’s television offerings, I noted PBS was airing the documentary “Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like.” The documentary celebrates the 50th anniversary of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, was hosted by Michael Keaton (a 1970’s employee of the show) and includes appearances by Sarah Silverman, John Lithgow and Yo-Yo Ma. I grew up with Mister Rogers. My admiration of his work has increased through the years with my awareness of his gifted, gentle confrontations of this world’s wonders and injustices. He worked to close the gaps between races, disabilities, gender and much more. This hour on the sofa with PBS reminded me of the ongoing importance of our ministry here at First Baptist.

In January, we worshiped with Ruth – a classic Hebrew story of closing cultural and ethnic gaps. In February, we celebrated Black History month. Guest speakers and artists from the African American community helped us work toward closing the gap of racial injustice and prejudice. At our annual church retreat, we closed the gap between newer members and long-time members of our church, and as we look ahead, we excitedly anticipate closing the gap between religious faiths. On Tuesday evening, May 15, we will host our local Muslim community for the first night of Ramadan feast in our Fellowship Hall. This Summer, one of our joint Sunday School options will be the study of world religions with representatives from different faiths leading us in study. Finally, in early June, we will continue to close the racial gap by sharing a BBQ with our brothers and sisters at Springfield Baptist Church. Thinking of all these events and opportunities, it’s easy for me to celebrate the life, songs and philosophy of Mister Rogers – the man who encouraged us all to be neighbors.

And finally (because Jim Dant can’t write a treatise without mentioning finances), don’t forget to close the gap in your generosity. How much would a true tithe (10%) of your income be? How much do you give to the work of God in your church? I encourage you to ‘close the gap’ – even just a little bit. Give a little more than you are giving right now. It is your gifts that make all the work mentioned above possible.

— Jim