Month: December 2020

Thank You, Christmas Elves!

Thanks to Michele Smith and her mom, Martha Walker for making lots of cookies that were included in Christmas gift bags that were delivered last week to our senior members. Additional thanks to Jill Peckelun and Susan Kastelic for preparing gift bags for Derry friends at Country Meadows. With the help of deacons and Shepherd Group elves, many of these treats were delivered in time to enjoy during the snowfall.

December Updates from PW

  • Thanks to everyone who donated to the Thank Offering which totaled $2,217.
  • 50 hygiene bags were delivered to the Domestic Violence Center in early Nov. The center was not accepting any donations earlier due to Covid-19. Thanks for contributing personal hygiene items.
  • As we enjoy Christmas Day may we remember women and children who are suffering due to exploitation through domestic violence, labor or sex trafficking. Wear an orange ribbon or orange and say a prayer for them.

Worship on Christmas Eve, Dec 24

  • A family service led by Pastor Pam and a traditional service led by Pastor Stephen will be posted on Facebook and YouTube at 8 am: watch at your convenience.
  • Join your church family at 7 pm Thursday, Dec 24 for live streaming worship from the Sanctuary led by Pastor Marie: watch on, Facebook or YouTube. This service will be available to watch from the church website until Dec 31.
  • The Dec 24 eNews will arrive in your inbox by 8 am and include links to all the services, plus a special Christmas greeting from the church staff
  • Small battery-operated tea light candles will be available for pickup on the bench outside the church entrance on Sunday afternoon, Dec 20 for anyone who needs an extra light to brighten their Christmas Eve candlelighting experience

Important Congregational Message

Last night (Dec 16) the Session heard a report from the COVID Task Force, reviewed new state guidelines, and considered advice from members in the medical community. The Session engaged in fruitful discussions and referred to our guiding principles before unanimously voting to keep the church building closed through Jan 8 and limit worship to digital options. This includes Christmas Eve worship. Read about the various digital worship options Derry will offer on Christmas Eve.

At one time, the Session considered holding short outdoor services on Christmas Eve. However, due to safety concerns about lighting, snow and ice, cold, and the continued risk of spreading the virus at in-person gatherings, the Session decided digital worship is our best option. The local COVID situation has gotten much worse since our November Session meeting. Our hospitals are overwhelmed. Some members and friends of Derry Church and your loved ones have suffered from or even lost their lives to complications from COVID. In an expression of love and concern for our community and in the spirit of faithful citizenship, the Session made what they believe to be the most responsible decision for this season.

While this may not be surprising news, we understand it may be disappointing. We know Christmas Eve is a special night steeped in tradition and memory, and we will offer meaningful online worship options. If you’re like me, you love singing carols with the choir or brass, singing “Silent Night” by candlelight, and wishing a merry Christmas to friends as you leave worship. Christmas Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. Like so many other days this year, it will be different.

But Christmas will still come. We will still worship and celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. Christmas is not found only in packed sanctuaries, in carols sung by choirs, and in congregations holding candles. Christmas has always meant so much more. It will come again this year even if we worship at home without friends or family, because the good news of Christmas is that we are never alone. God is with us always.

I invite you to join us for one or more of our digital Christmas Eve worship services. I hope you will find new ways to celebrate the good news of Christmas wherever you are and whoever you are with. This is a good year to remember what Christmas is truly all about:

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; 
authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, 

Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 

May the hope, peace, joy, and love of God be with you now and always, and may you have a merry Christmas.

Pastor Stephen

December 2020 Financial Snapshot

Cash Flow – Operating Fund as of 11/30/20

Income YTD:     $1,158,745       $1,246,778
Expenses YTD:$1,060,741       $1,246,781
Surplus/(Deficit) YTD:         $98,004                 $(3)

Notes from the treasurer:

  • Contributions are trailing 2019 and budget. This was expected with COVID.
  • Committees in general are spending less than in 2019. We expect this to continue while church activities are occurring remotely and as we have asked committees to be mindful of spending. Personnel spending will start to increase with the associate pastor and music director positions filled. Note that Mission and Peace will overspend their designated mission budget by $20k as authorized by session in January. This is spending down the surplus from PY.
  • Cash flow remains good and net assets continue to increase

Want Credit for 2020?

If you’re making a financial gift to Derry Church that you would like to count in the 2020 tax season, your gift must be received by Dec 29. Give online or send checks payable to Derry Presbyterian Church, 248 E Derry Road, Hershey, PA 17033.

COVID-19 Vaccine: Safety & Rollout Information from Penn State Health


The Penn State College of Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine invites you to attend an interactive and virtual COVID-19 vaccination information session on Zoom to address pressing questions about the virus and the safety and rollout of the vaccine.

A team of experts will provide updates on the COVID-19 vaccine (different vaccines, testing, and how they work), who is to be immunized first, and offer strategies to weigh the risks/benefits of experiences (particularly holidays). Attendees are encouraged to bring their own questions.

Leading the information session:

  • Andreas N. Achilleos, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Paul M. Haidet, MD, MPH Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Humanities, and Public Health Science
  • Jonathan J. Nunez, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine
  • Leslie Parent, MD Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology

Advent Melodies & Musings


This holiday event hosted by Synod of the Trinity features the talents of Bill Carter on the piano and the original written works of Jim Thyren, both of the Presbytery of Lackawanna. Bill Carter has performed at Derry Church many times with his Presbybop Quartet. The 30-minute program of relaxation, calm and refreshment can be viewed on the Synod’s Facebook page. Then come back on Tuesday, Dec 22 for “Carols of Christmas for Cello and Celtic Whistle” with Presbytery of Huntingdon’s Ela Robertson. Watch 7-7:30 pm on the Synod’s Facebook page.

Derry Cares!

The Derry Christmas Drive-Thru on Sunday netted two filled-to-the brim vans of canned goods for the Hershey Food Bank, plus dozens of gift cards and hats and mittens for the Giving Tree. The staff saw a steady stream of cars for more than an hour and it was a delight to see familiar faces behind those masks. Thanks to all who gave so generously, in true Derry spirit: 1,542 pounds of food was collected!

Download a Devotional Booklet

Many of you already received a copy of “Words of Comfort and Hope” on Sunday at the Derry Christmas Drive-Thru, or one was delivered to those residing at Country Meadows, Masonic Village, Londonderry Village and Cornwall Manor. For those who prefer a digital copy, click to download. Paper copies are available at church: request one by calling the office: 717-533-9667.

Do You Need Offering Envelopes?

For those who prefer to give their offering using church envelopes, boxes for 2021 will be ready for pickup in January. Please note your envelope number may have changed as more than 200 Derry Church families have switched to online giving, which helps reduce our administrative expenses and eliminates the need for offering envelopes. If you sign up for online giving, please notify Sandy Miceli by Dec 30 that you won’t need a box of envelopes.

Digital Advent Calendar

Just like a real Advent calendar, Derry Church’s digital Advent calendar holds a surprise for you each day. Beginning Sunday, Nov 29 and continuing through Christmas day, you’ll find a virtual treat waiting for you on our Facebook page and YouTube channel by 8 am each day. You might find a video created by one of our pastors, a seasonal video from the archives, or a story or message from a church member or friend. You never know what it might be, and that’s part of the fun.

As we begin the digital Advent calendar, that means we’ve come to the end of our Morning Meditations video series for 2020. We hope you enjoyed those daily offerings, and that you’ll also be entertained and inspired by the new video gifts we’re creating especially for the Advent season.

Note of Thanks

Thank you for your prayers, sympathy cards and messages of condolence on the death of our mother/mother-in-law, Fran Pearl. We greatly appreciate the comforting words and loving support of our church family during this time of loss. Ken & Cynthia Pearl

Nov 2020 Session Highlights

  • Examined newly elected Ruling Elders and Deacons in preparation for ordination/installation in January.
  • Steven Guenther and Dennis Hosler shared the Treasurer’s report and reviewed the 2021 proposed budget. Information is still being gathered in order to complete next year’s budget. The proposed 2021 budget will be presented and voted upon at the December stated session meeting.
  • Due to rising COVID case levels in our area, the Session discussed whether changes should be made in our current response and service schedule. After discussion Session approved the following actions:
    • Suspend music ensembles that cannot wear masks and distance for worship. Music for worship will be provided using pieces recorded prior to this decision and music from previous years.
    • Masks will continue to be required for all indoor and outdoor gatherings, including speakers, class leaders, singers, and preachers when a congregation or audience is present.
    • Fewer livestream participants will be present on Sunday mornings so that multiple people do not have to speak without a mask in the same area at the same time. Some of the worship liturgy will be pre-recorded so that those videos can be dropped into the service.
    • Continue to offer the schedule previously approved for in-person worship & gatherings (8 am Sunday service, 9 am Sunday School hour, 7 pm Tuesday service). The staff and any leaders of any in-person gatherings have the authority to cancel a gathering anytime they believe it is unsafe to continue or if they are personally uncomfortable leading the gathering at the given time.
    • The staff is working on several models for Christmas Eve worship based on recent survey results and safe practices. The plan is to offer multiple digital options as well as some in-person options.  More information will be shared closer to Christmas Eve as the specifics are developed.
  • The Presbyterian Women will be collecting funds for the group’s mission goal in January. In the past, these funds have been raised through the Cookie Walk/Jumbles Shop sales. 
  • Approved a request from the Personnel Committee to use monies from the Brong Scholarship fund to enable Grant Wareham to obtain a Certificate in Choral Conducting from Messiah College. The request meets the eligibility for use of the scholarship funds. The total cost will be approximately $10,000 to $12,0000 over three years. Grant will be able to attend school part time and continue without disruption in his full-time position at Derry.
  • The Session approved the annual Giving Tree, collection of $25 Walmart gift cards (75% donated to Derry Township families, 25% to Penn National racetrack workers), and the donation of the Christmas Eve offering to the Community Check Up Center.

Give Now: Christmas Joy Offering

In December we support the Christmas Joy offering, a cherished Presbyterian tradition since the 1930s. This year our Christmas Joy and Christmas Eve offering will be shared equally between the Community Check-Up Center and the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA).

PMA distributes its portion equally to the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and to Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color. The Assistance Program provides critical financial support to church workers and their families. Presbyterian-related schools and colleges provide education and leadership development while nurturing racial and ethnic heritage. Give online or send checks notated “Christmas Joy.” Thank you for supporting these important and needed missions.

Tour Derry Church’s Organ Chamber

Grant Wareham, our director of music ministries, gives you a tour of the organ chamber and progress to date on the installation of our Aeolian-Skinner Op.1132. Join him on Zoom at 9 am Sunday, Dec 13 to ask questions & learn more.

Worship on Tuesday Dec 1, 2020

When we can’t gather in person, virtual worship is the next best thing. Click the image above to join Pastor Stephen and Grant Wareham for a 30-minute Advent service offered in place of in-person worship on Tuesday, Dec 1.