Ministry creates official faith-based study guide for Tom Hanks' Mr. Rogers movie

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: A Faith-Based Discussion Companion" is a faith-based resource created by Discipleship Ministries, an agency of the United Methodist Church, and centered on the 2019 Tom Hanks film. |

The Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church has created a faith-based study guide book for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the movie about Mr. Rogers in which Tom Hanks plays the lead role.

Titled “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: A Faith-Based Discussion Companion,” the resource has been made available in advance of the movie’s release on Friday.

Steve Horswill-Johnston, chief communications officer at Discipleship Ministries, told The Christian Post that the agency was contacted in August by Affirm Films, a Sony Pictures company, to develop a discussion guide for the movie.

Affirm, which had helped produce Christian films like “Courageous” and “Fireproof,” wanted to have faith-based resources for the film, explained Horswill-Johnston.

“The guide is designed to help groups learn to process feelings, understand forgiveness, talk about hard things, seek reconciliation, and practice positive spiritual discipline,” said Horswill-Johnston.

Tom Hanks
Director Marielle Heller and Tom Hanks on the set of TriStar Pictures film "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." |

“Forgiveness and reconciliation are central themes to Christ's message of love. We believe that Fred Rogers was an example of Christ’s love in his everyday life. And in this film he helps a man to forgive those in his life. We wanted to honor his life with this guide.”

The staff at Discipleship Ministries wrote the study, with Sony Pictures proofing the text and looking over some of the sections.

The discussion guide is divided into five sessions: “Feelings are Okay,” “Prodigal,” “Anything that is mentionable is manageable,” “Forgiveness and Reconciliation,” and “Practice, Practice, Practice.”

The five sections derived their focus from the themes of the film, Horswill-Johnston told CP, adding that the study is “meant for groups or individuals to reflect on the themes of the film and to challenge us all to make ‘a beautiful day’ for others using Christ as our example.”

“The heart of the film is about forgiveness, and we believe the Bible has a lot to say on that subject,” he said. “Each session ends with a challenge to create your own beautiful day.”

Monique Sondag of the 130 Agency, which is involved in promoting the film, explained to CP that Discipleship Ministries had expressed interest in developing the resources for the project.

“The team has a long-standing relationship and it proved to be a good fit,” noted Sondag, adding that the movie “will touch a wide spectrum of viewers and this study serves as just one piece towards that.”

Sondag also noted that the overall resources, available here, come from the work of people from a “broad unity” of backgrounds, explaining that a “variety of partners have engaged in the project from a host of backgrounds.”

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is focused on the real-life children’s television star Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister most known for his long-running kids program “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.”

The plot of the film is based off of an article by reporter Tom Junod, who formed a friendship with Rogers while working on a news story about his life.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

“There's nobody in media, there's nobody in television, there's nobody in the consciousness that didn't already have an understanding as well as an opinion of Mr. Rogers,” said Hanks at the red carpet of the premiere.

“He just wanted to make little kids, little human beings, feel safe even if they didn't have all of the answers.”

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