Month: November 2021

Advent Begins on Sunday, Nov 28!

Advent begins on Sunday, and at Derry Church we begin a “Christmas Tour of Homes” sermon series that invites you into the homes of the Gospel writers.

The conversation continues in our Christmas Tour of Homes Facebook Group beginning Monday, Nov 29 (enjoy having Sundays off during this Advent season). Click here to join now, then check in daily to read posts and share your stories and insights. 

Nov 2021 Session Highlights

  • It was the joy of the Session to approve the baptism of Christopher Damon and Tiffany Mittereder and their two children, Kennedy and Juliana and to receive Chris and Tiffany as new members.  The Session also received and welcomed Virginia and Randolf Aires, Sharon Lapano, and Susan Diener as new members.
  • Examined and welcomed newly elected Ruling Elders and Deacons in preparation for ordination/installation in January.
  • Discussed whether the time is right to make masks optional at the 8 am Sunday service. With booster shots and vaccinations for children under way, the Session wants to monitor the impact that these additional vaccinations may have on Covid levels in our area. No action arose from the discussion, however, this item will be reviewed at the December meeting.
  • To date pledges totaling $981,442 have been received, which is 76% of our proposed budget. Information is still being gathered in order to complete the budget. The proposed 2022 budget will be presented and voted upon at the December stated session meeting.
  • The Session approved a motion to allow the Derry Brass to play in church without masks, as long as the musicians are vaccinated, using bell covers on the instruments and socially distancing.
  • Fundraising and collection requests were approved as follows:
    • Derry Discovery Days to sell Fox Meadow Creamery Gift Cards
    • Mission & Peace requested that Friends of Sargodha be permitted to raise funds through the sale of greeting cards, Mark Smith ornaments, and the Shares for Scholarships program.
    • Annual collections for the Giving Tree and Christmas Eve offering with the collection to be split between PC USA and Church World Services.
  • Approved a modification to Derry’s Sabbatical policy to include the Director of Communications and Technology as an eligible participant in the program.

2021 Star Ornament

Presenting the 2021 star ornament handcrafted by blacksmith Mark Smith! You can order online: ornaments cost $15 each, and price includes processing, shipping or local delivery. After you place your order, you will be contacted by email about delivery arrangements. Any remaining ornaments will be sold at the Cookie Walk on Saturday, Dec 4 and the drive-through on Sunday afternoon, Dec 5. Proceeds fund scholarships for students who attend Presbyterian Education Board schools in Pakistan. Only 150 ornaments have been made, so don’t wait to get yours.

Notes of Thanks

Derry Friends, Thank you for your donations of meals and gift cards to Family Promise. Hungry tummies were filled, and personal care necessities were provided to struggling families. Your kindness and generosity are greatly appreciated! Jane Robertson

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this year’s “Loving Our Community” Auction: sponsors, donors, volunteers and participants, you helped to raise over $21,000 in support of the ministries of Love INC of Greater Hershey, mobilizing the local church to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ. Love INC of Greater Hershey

PW Thank Offering Brings Hope Around the World: Story #4

Since 1888, Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering has distributed more than $27 million in the U.S. and around the world.

Out of the 29 applications received, 12 projects were chosen for funding this year. As required, over 40% of the projects are related to health ministries. Read about two more of the 2021 Thank Offering recipients: 

Habitat for Humanity Homeownership Mentoring, Orlando, FL
As the demand for affordable homes increases due to the economic impact of the pandemic, more families need help and encouragement to prepare them for homeownership. The $5,000 Thank Offering grant will provide mentoring to 100 households in Greater Orlando and Osceola County, offering a rare opportunity for families to receive individual guidance to reduce debt, save money and improve their credit scores to become eligible to purchase a home.

Vehicle and Driver for the Cancer Association of Anderson, SC
The Cancer Association of Anderson provides financial and emotional assistance to local patients who are battling cancer. Having a vehicle will be a game-changer, offering safe and reliable options to patients with no available transportation for their cancer treatment-related appointments. This $42,360 grant will also provide for a compassionate and knowledgeable driver who can offer a caring presence as well as assist patients with special needs.

Please give generously to the Thank Offering so that we can continue to provide for the needs of others at home and around the world. Give online or make checks payable to Derry Church notated “Thank Offering” and mail to the church or drop in the collection boxes.

November 2021 Financial Snapshot

Cash Flow – Operating Fund as of 10/31/21

   ACTUAL    BUDGETED
Income YTD:$1,049,957     $1,041,667
Expenses YTD:      969,129       1,099,474
Surplus/(Deficit) YTD:        80,828         (57,807)

Notes from the treasurer:

  • Contributions are about in line with 2020 and budget at this point.
  • Committee spending generally in line with or under budget. 
  • Cash flow at 10/31 is in line with last year.

Derry Church Christmas Concert: A Weary World Rejoices


2 & 5 PM SUNDAY, DEC 12 IN THE SANCTUARY • FREE WILL OFFERING • LIVE STREAMING AT 5 PM

Derry’s 2021 Christmas concert will feature our Sanctuary Choir, a brass quintet, the Derry Ringers, and soloist Christyn Seay. You’ll hear favorites like John Gardner’s electric “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” and the opening movement of Vivaldi’s beloved Gloria, as well as new pieces like Australian composer Jenny McLeod’s delightfully unique “Falantidida.” The concert will also include plenty of carols for all to join together and sing.

Longest Night Worship

7 PM TUESDAY, DEC 21 IN THE SANCTUARY AND LIVE STREAMING

For those who have empty places in their hearts and homes this Christmas season, we offer the “Longest Night” worship service. Led by Pastor Marie, it’s a reflective, come-as-you-are service that includes the sacrament of communion.

Thanksgiving Day = Orange Day

This year, Thanksgiving Day is also Orange Day. In your thankfulness, remember those females suffering from exploitation. Domestic violence has resulted in a 30% increase in child deaths since the pandemic. Even before COVID-19, 38% of children lived in homes where one parent abused the other. Real life stories include the mother repeatedly beaten until she fled with her children and yet fears her husband will kill her as he has weekend custody; the man who hears the screams of his mother as his father pounds her against a bedroom wall; and the woman beaten, stabbed, shot and left to die on Harrisburg street.

If you know of someone who is abused, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or TTY 800-787-3224 for help. Wear orange or an orange ribbon on Nov 25 to show thankfulness for those working to end the exploitation of females.

PW Thank Offering Brings Hope Around the World: Story #3

Since 1888, Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering has distributed more than $27 million in the U.S. and around the world.

Out of the 29 applications received, 12 projects were chosen for funding this year. As required, over 40% of the projects are related to health ministries. Read about two more of the 2021 Thank Offering recipients: 

Hagar’s Community Church, Tacoma, WA
Established in 2019, this new church development is planted inside the Washington Corrections Center for Women. The $50,000 Thank Offering grant will help support incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women through Bible study, worship, pastoral care and prayer groups. This ministry seeks to empower women so they may seek their own spiritual connection to God, walk a path of healing, experience fellowship in a community of faith and learn a new sense of belonging in and out of the corrections center.

Hope Harbor Ministries, Warm Springs, GA
This one-year, residential program serves women who struggle with the destructive forces of addiction. A space for learning, gathering, and fundraising, the kitchen is particularly important for the residents. Each year they host a bake sale to purchase holiday gifts for their children and families, allowing them a chance to give back and mend broken relationships. The $20,000 Thank Offering grant will purchase kitchen appliances for a new building to continue serving women as they find freedom from addiction and experience the healing hope of Christ.

Please give generously to the Thank Offering so that we can continue to provide for the needs of others at home and around the world. Give online or make checks payable to Derry Church notated “Thank Offering” and mail to the church or drop in the collection boxes.

Two Advent Study Opportunities

10:30 AM THURSDAYS, NOV 18, DEC 2, 9 & 16 IN ROOM 7
Join the Thursday Journey In Faith (JIF) group in exploring the stories that surround Jesus’ birth. This 4-week video series featuring Middle-East scholar Prof. Ken Bailey will present a clearer view of what life was like when Jesus was born, according to the Gospel writers.

9-10 AM SUNDAYS, NOV 28, DEC 5, 12 & 19 IN ROOM 9
Led by Rev. Ivo Meilands, this 4-week study of various Advent scriptures will help us to prepare for the coming of our Lord. This class will be participatory rather than lecture based. Through thoughtful study of the Old and New Testaments, together we will attempt to discern where God is leading us in this time and place. Find out more in Sunday’s Issues Class.

2nd Annual Derry Christmas Drive-Thru

1-2 PM SUNDAY, DEC 5 IN THE CHURCH PARKING LOT OR BRING WITH YOU TO CHURCH IN THE MORNING

You’re invited to a Christmas drive thru where you can drop off $25 Walmart gift cards for racetrack workers (or checks to purchase gift cards) and hats and gloves as well as items for the Hershey Food Bank and Personal Care Closet. We’ll also have some things for you to take home ahead of the holidays: an Advent devotional booklet written by Derry members and staff, an opportunity to purchase the 2021 Mark Smith Christmas ornament, and maybe even some Cookie Walk treats packaged to go!

Donate Your Gently Used Aluminum Walkers and Canes

Penn State Health is accepting donations of gently used aluminum crutches, canes and walkers for its hospitals and outpatient locations now through Nov 12. Items can be dropped off at the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Life Lion Hangar, 10 Life Lion Drive until 7 pm Thursday, Nov 22 and from 8 am to 4 pm Friday, Nov 12. All donations will be inspected for safety and sanitized, then distributed to patients who need them.

A global shortage of aluminum means that crutches, canes, and walkers are in short supply for most hospitals. Hospitals’ current inventories are running very low, and vendors who usually sell these devices simply don’t have them. Donated items will be given to patients free of charge.

Rev. Forrest Claasen Elected as Next Synod Executive

The Rev. Forrest Claassen, co-executive and stated clerk of the Presbytery of Los Ranchos, has been elected the next executive of the Synod of the Trinity, a multi-state mid council of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Claassen was unanimously elected during the Synod’s recent Assembly, held virtually. He succeeds the Rev. Susan Faye Wonderland, whose contract is expiring after 13 years with the Synod, including the last seven-plus years as transitional executive.

“When I think about what Trinity has called me to do, I see a convergence,” Claassen said. “All sorts of ministry experiences over the last 25-plus years have led to this.”

Claassen is a graduate of Stanford University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned a Master of Divinity.

Prior to his service in Los Ranchos, Claassen served as stated clerk of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest from 2009 to 2013, pastor at Clarkston (WA) Presbyterian Church from 2005 to 2013, co-pastor to a tri-cultural congregation in Southeast Alaska, stated supply minister for a Haida village church in the Presbytery of Alaska for five years, moderator and then chair of General Council of the Presbytery of Alaska, and commissioner to the 212th General Assembly in Long Beach, CA.

PW Thank Offering Brings Hope Around the World: Story #2

Since 1888, Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering has distributed more than $27 million in the U.S. and around the world.

Out of the 29 applications received, 12 projects were chosen for funding this year. As required, over 40% of the projects are related to health ministries. Read about two more of the 2021 Thank Offering recipients: 

First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven: Sunday School and Day Care Center for Koinonia Ministries, Orange Walk, Belize
Koinonia Ministries has a mission to train and equip childcare workers to proclaim the love of God to new generations. In Belize, a single parent earns $75 to $90 per week but they must pay $35 per week for childcare. The  $15,600 Thank Offering grant will help complete a new building for a Sunday school that serves 125 children per week and a cost-free day care center that serves 50 children of single parents.

Puerta Abierta (Open Door), Libros Abiertos (Open Books) in Santiago, Guatemala
The $50,000 Thank Offering grant will provide funding to reach 3,200 students through intensive support, training and professional development for Guatemalan teachers. This will increase reading literacy and educational success for mostly indigenous children living in areas where schools do not have books and resources. The program will also provide professional development opportunities for teachers across Guatemala, and will help build local leadership, facilitate onsite programs, and grow new teaching and learning sites.

Please give generously to the Thank Offering so that we can continue to provide for the needs of others at home and around the world. Give online or make checks payable to Derry Church notated “Thank Offering” and mail to the church or drop in the collection boxes.

Love INC Shares Happy “Homes Of Hope” Story

In March 2020, the day after COVID shut down Pennsylvania, Hannah and her girls moved into the Love INC Homes of Hope transitional house. On Saturday, a year and a half later, despite the wind and rain, lots of faithful servant volunteers worked together to move their family to their new permanent housing.

Hannah’s faith and perseverance continue to inspire everyone that has been blessed to walk with her. Hannah says, “Thanks a Million to our AMAZING, Wonderful, Fabulous Volunteers and All our Caring ANGELS who have endlessly prayed, supported us on this Amazing journey, Words are Inadequate to Express.”

Although they’ve moved out of the house, they will continue to be part of the Homes of Hope program through the next six months of their transition. Hannah’s advocate and case manager will continue to meet with her to support and encourage her on her journey towards self-sufficiency.

Oct 2021 Session Highlights

  • Welcomed and received Tim Mosher as Ruling Elder to fill the term vacated by David Han.
  • Treasurer Stephen Guenther reported that contributions are approximately $30,000 behind 2020 levels and budget. Committee spending is in line with the budget.
  • The Covid Task Force presented two recommendations: to permit the Deacons to sponsor the annual blood drive in December and to permit the Derry Brass to begin rehearsing with bell covers and social distancing with the possibility of being able to play in worship in late November. After reviewing the recommendations, the Session approved both. 
  • Approved Derry Discovery Days’ request to hold a Chipotle fundraiser night on Tuesday, November 9 from 4 to 8 pm at the downtown Hershey location. 
  • Personnel items discussed at the meeting included the following:
    • Dan Stokes is stepping away from working at Derry. Dan currently serves as organist at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hummelstown and would like to pursue volunteer activities as he moves into semi-retirement. The Session is grateful for Dan’s time and leadership and wishes him well.
    • Reviewed a proposal to hire Eric Riley as Artist in Residence: Choral Arts and Consultant. In this position Eric will work with and mentor Grant and the choir for a full choir season (until June 2023). The proposal was approved.
    • Approved removing the “transitional” designation from M.E. Steelman’s title and making her a permanent member of the church staff as Children’s Ministry Coordinator.
    • The Communication & Technology Committee has requested permission to seek and hire an Audio Visual Intern. We currently have a small but dedicated pool of volunteers who assist Sue George with the audio visual aspects of Sunday morning worship. Additional help is needed. The proposal is to work with local colleges to find a student who will learn all aspects of our live streaming and its production while earning college credit. The Session approved and is supportive of this trial program, which is not only of benefit to Derry but also to the community by hiring a student who will gain hands-on experience in his/her chosen field of study.

Your Delicious Holiday Cookies Will Make this Year’s Cookie Walk Something Special

9 AM – 12 PM SATURDAY, DEC 4 IN FELLOWSHIP HALL

Start looking for that special cookie recipe! Each family is asked to donate one batch of homemade cookies (2-4 dozen or more). Drop off on Friday, Dec 3 or by 9 am on Saturday. Include a label with name of the cookie. If cookies contain nuts, peanut butter or almond extract and the name does not reflect that ingredient, please list that information on the label.

Cookies are sold by the pound. Masks are required. Proceeds support Presbyterian Women’s mission goal for 2022. Contact Doris Feil to volunteer to set up on Friday or sell cookies on Saturday.

Winter Golf League

Too cold for golf? Not for Derry Church’s Winter Golf League! Gregg Robertson, Greg Poland, Pete Feil and Peter Gawron hit the links on Nov 2 despite some rain, temperatures in the 50’s and wind. They felt like they were playing in Scotland! Those interested in playing can email Gregg Robertson. There are no set dates to play. This group keeps an eye on the weather and puts together a foursome or two when the forecast looks favorable.

PW Thank Offering Brings Hope Around the World: Story #1

Since 1888, Presbyterian Women’s Thank Offering has distributed more than $27 million in the U.S. and around the world.

Out of the 29 applications received, 12 projects were chosen for funding this year. As required, over 40% of the projects are related to health ministries. Read about two of the 2021 Thank Offering recipients: 

The Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center and Nature Preschool
Avery County, North Carolina, is an area whose residents have a significant need for preschool and after-school programming. The rural, mountainous region offers few job opportunities beside the seasonal work for tourists. Therefore, many families are forced to find work “off the mountain,” which requires them to find suitable childcare. The $10,000 Thank Offering grant will help provide working families with a quality and affordable option for their children. The Nature Preschool offers young ones transformational experiences of education, outdoor recreation, and spiritual refreshment.

Frontera de Cristo Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico
This program supports families with students who are in danger of dropping out of school and need supplemental support in one of the most impoverished communities of Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. The $27,000 Thank Offering grant will create a safe, educational space and implement a program to strengthen the children’s academic, social, emotional and spiritual development. Parents enrolled in the program will receive training in food cultivation, nutritious cooking and conflict resolution.

Please give generously to the Thank Offering so that we can continue to provide for the needs of others at home and around the world. Give online or make checks payable to Derry Church notated “Thank Offering” and mail to the church or drop in the collection boxes.