Tyler Hempel • Derry Member

When I was a child, every Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma Esther’s house. For that matter, so was every Thanksgiving, Easter, and many other evenings throughout the year. Grandmother Esther was the matriarch of the Hempel family. She grew up on the family farm in the wake of the Great Depression and, like many others, her family often struggled to make ends meet during her youth. Thus, a party at Grandma’s was never a showy or extravagant affair, but instead it was centered around family, community, and God. Grandma would spend all day in the kitchen preparing a simple feast made with love, while we played in the yard or watched the football game. In the evening, we would gather around the big table where she would lead us in prayer, and we’d go around the room sharing what we were grateful for. Then, we would dig into the delicious food and catch up on the family news. The night would end with everyone singing songs and playing games in the living room. These evenings were where some of my fondest childhood memories were made. Grandma Esther continued to host events well into her 80s, until her dementia forced her to pass the torch on to my parents. Little did I know that my grandmother had been planning one more family get together…

Like many other people who make it into their 90s, my grandmother attended numerous funerals over the years. Unlike most, though, she would keep the program from every one of those celebrations of life, scrawling notes on the edges that would later be used as inspiration for her own funeral service. Over time, she compiled a list of passages she wanted to be read and songs she wanted played, and created a general outline of her ideal service. 

When she passed late last year from advanced Alzheimer’s at the age of 94, her five children got together and reviewed her notes to finalize plans. They also used the stories she’d written about her life to put together a video that highlighted what an amazing person she was. Eliana, the twins and I were able to go to Chicago to attend that service last week. The church was filled with children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, church family, and friends from all over the country. Though our family is large, busy, and spread out, there was no question of missing this chance to celebrate Grandma. I was honored to fulfill one of her wishes and opened the service by playing “On Eagle’s Wings,” one Grandma’s favorite hymns.  Each one of her children read some of her favorite passages from the Bible, and the pastor shared some stories which reminded us how special Grandma was. It was the perfect service. 

Later that evening, the entire family congregated at my parent’s home. After sharing a meal, the adults sat around catching up with one another while the kids played Survive, a favorite board game in our house. We ended the evening gathered around the piano in my parents’ living room singing everything from Piano Man to Amazing Grace loudly, and sometimes a little off key. Somehow, Grandma got us all together doing exactly what she loved, one last time.  

If you are interested in learning more about Grandma Esther, click here to watch the video about her life.

Debbie Hough • Derry Member

I’m not sure if this ever happens to you, but every so often I stop and take a retrospective look at the life I’ve known. The look takes in the faces of people I’ve loved and known; the places I’ve lived and been privileged to visit; books I’ve studied and read for pleasure; places I’ve worked and lots more. This adventure can sometimes leave a bittersweet afterglow, but mostly I am humbled, surprised and grateful.

In the first letter to the church in Corinth there is a verse which reads, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” I am not sure what version or translation of the Bible this comes from, but it works for me. When I look back, I am stunned at those experiences that I’ve had that nothing could have prepared me for. I definitely consider these God-experiences and I imagine you’ve had them too.

One thing that I couldn’t have expected was Derry’s response to helping the ministry of the Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan. It slowly happened over the 10 year period from 2009 to 2019 and is still growing. I am simply amazed at the generosity of time and treasure that quite a few people at Derry have shared. 

For instance, in 2022, Derry members and friends gave approximately $17,500 for scholarships through our annual Shares for Scholarships campaign, participating in March Madness, online giving, the purchase of Mark Smith’s Christmas ornaments and Claudia Holtzman’s greeting cards. All together, Derry Church supports 50 students with scholarships so they have the life-changing opportunity to go to school. Further, our contributions to the General Scholarship Fund allows PEB to answer the call to need as it arises and even more children become students.

That sounds like a lot and it is, but there is more! The Mission & Peace Committee, other Derry members, and the Session are contributing to the building of a new wing of the Boys’ School in Sargodha. These numbers boggle my mind. Truly, nothing and no one but God could have prepared all of this to happen.

Derry’s 2023 Shares for Scholarships campaign is under way now and continues through February. Previous scholarships can be renewed and new scholarships can be added! This year the cost of scholarships has increased slightly, the first such increase in the dozen years since I’ve been involved. An annual scholarship costs $400 for a day student and $800 for a boarding student.

I invite you to consider allowing God to do with you something you never imagined. If you have an amount in mind, you can click this link to go directly to the online giving portal. For more information about the 2023 shares campaign, click here.

And then, in the fall of 2024, maybe you can be among the travelers journeying to Pakistan in celebration of Derry’s 300th anniversary and to dedicate the school building. You can witness with your eyes, ears and heart the work being done. Together, through education, we can partner with God and help change the world. I guarantee you would have a lot of experiences for later reflection, too! 

Connie Henry • Elder

Ordination and installation of church officers on Sunday, Jan 8, 2023.

In 2019 when I was asked to serve as an elder for the following three years, I accepted knowing I would be retiring at the end of 2019. I felt I would have more time to give than the last time I served, and I enjoy being involved in the church on a deeper level than attendance. Who would have known that two months later we would be plunged into a world-wide health crisis that would last for the entire three-year session term and beyond? Decisions had to be made that were never dreamed of before the pandemic, all while trying to keep the physical and emotional well-being of the parishioners — and Derry Church’s future — under consideration.

Beyond the ‘topic of the century,’ our church is so many things to the folks who worship and participate inside and outside the church walls. It is a business which operates to serve its customers and members. And along with serving on Session comes the responsibility to make decisions regarding the success and the future of the church, the happiness and inclusion of the members as they choose to participate, and the strength of the buildings and grounds with which we’ve been entrusted. The behind-the-scenes workings of the church really come to light as a Session member, and we are all charged with the decisions which can affect all these things, and more.

I found joy and peace, stress and disagreement amongst members of Session.  I also found respect for one another and resolution amongst differing views. I felt extreme responsibility to read each session packet from beginning to end so I could comment and/or vote appropriately when topics arose at the meetings. And I held close the responsibility to question and discuss all topics as I felt warranted. Without committing to these things, I felt I was doing a disservice to the church at large.

I developed a deep respect for each Session member, and feel my time was well spent for this reason alone. But beyond that, I came to realize how complex running the church is, and how fortunate we are to have a loyal and dedicated staff with only the best interest of Derry Church at heart, and so many committee members, chairs and volunteers who are equally committed. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on Session, and to anyone who may be asked to serve, I think it is worth careful discernment and a willingness to say ‘yes’ if the path be cleared.

Happy New Year to all!

Tiffanie Keck • Director, Resource Development & Administration YWCA Greater Harrisburg

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In January we’re lifting up Women’s Equality, Justice, and Opportunity. The Joys & Concerns section of the weekly eNews always includes the mission focus for the month.

Eliminating racism. Empowering women. Our mission lives in the soul of everyone here at YWCA Greater Harrisburg because we demand a world of equity and human decency. We envision a just community for all and we commit ourselves to the work of transforming lives. 

For more than a century, the YWCA has been an integral part of the Greater Harrisburg community. In 1894, during the Industrial Revolution, a group of women came together out of concern for girls who were flocking to the city to find employment. These community leaders wanted to ensure that young women had safe and suitable conditions under which to live and work with access to activities and education that would help them better their lives.

The YWCA Greater Harrisburg’s vision of creating a just community for all began 125 years ago. As the role and the needs of women adapted over time, the YWCA has historically expanded its impact, becoming a driving force that transforms lives.

In our community and beyond, we answer the cry for justice by serving more than 35,000 individuals each year. We offer housing to women seeking safer lives. We provide child care, so their families can build their futures. We dismantle systemic racism because the future deserves all of us. From emergency shelter and a legal clinic to supported employment services, supervised visitation, and Veterans programs, we could not do this important work without the generosity of our supporters.

Our community demands justice in a thousand different ways. Our power comes from the women and girls we serve and those who support us. We are thought leaders. We are fearless movers. We are innovative shakers. We move justice out of our doors and into the power structures that determine the future. Our voices rise together to do the work. Here, a woman is empowered to leave an abusive relationship. Here, students of color capitalize on their brilliance. Here, a young woman cracks the glass ceiling to achieve the promotion she earned. 

Here, we bear witness to their dignity, and celebrate their victories. They keep our commitment to justice strong because we know first-hand how much more work there is left to do. At the YWCA Greater Harrisburg, we are eliminating racism and empowering women. 

It is only with the support of community-minded individuals — and organizations like Derry Church — that we can continue to fulfill the immediate needs and provide comprehensive services that support women, children, and men as they regain their self-esteem and independence. On behalf of the YWCA clients who will benefit from this generosity, we thank you!

As we continue on, we will get up and do the work until injustice is rooted out, until institutions are transformed, until the world sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable. 

YWCA Eliminating racism. Empowering women.

Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker • Pastor

I am excited to announce that the Session has approved creating a new full-time position at Derry to help us meet our ministry needs.  The Director of Church Life and Connection (DCLC) will help create fellowship opportunities for all ages and age groups within the Derry Church community and cultivate connections between church members of all ages. 

M.E. Steelman will be transitioning from her current part-time position as the children’s ministry coordinator to the Director of Church Life and Connection in January. Her new position will allow her to continue some of the great work she has been doing with the children of the church. She will continue to lead children’s fellowship in her role as the DCLC and help plan and oversee Terrific Tuesdays. She will partner with a new Associate Pastor to assist with other areas of children’s ministry like worship and education. 

M.E. will be focusing on fellowship for all ages, and part of her new duties will be to work with the Membership Involvement Committee to plan and lead our big annual fellowship events like the Corn Roast, Church Picnic, Square Dance and Chili Cookoff, and seasonal events like Trunk or Treat and the Easter Egg Hunt. She’ll also work with the committee to help re-start and reimagine a Derry Seniors program. 

As the DCLC, M.E. will be a staff resource for fellowship groups like the Derry Day Trippers, parent groups, supper clubs, the golf group, and any other fellowship groups we create in the future.  M.E. will help the church dream together about new ways to share life and connection together by age, interest, life-situation, and need.

M.E. will take the lead in many of the programmatic elements of church life and fellowship, but she will also invest in congregational connection. M.E. will help foster intergenerational relationships within the church through mission projects, retreats, and special events. She will also spend time with our senior members who are homebound or in retirement communities and work with our Membership Involvement Committee and Deacons to find new ways to keep them connected to the Derry Church community.  

M.E. has the wonderful ability to create meaningful programs and connect people to one another. She is creative, organized, and passionate about the Derry community. I am looking forward to continuing to work with her in this new role and I’m excited about the future of church life and connection at Derry.  

We will continue to share news and information about the Director of Church Life and Connection in the new year as M.E. begins her work. The Personnel Committee and Session believe this position will help fill in some needed gaps in our staff, continue areas of energy and success at Derry, and create new ministry opportunities that will make a difference in the lives of our members and the community. 

Claire Folts • Children’s Music Director

This fall and winter I have had the privilege of making music with the kids of Derry Church. I work (play really!) with them in four different settings:

  • On Sunday mornings from 9:00-9:15 am, I make music with preschool through 5th grade children. 
  • On Tuesday nights from 5:45-6:15 pm, I make music with preschool and Kindergarten children.
  • From 6:15-6:45 pm, I make music with 1st-5th grade children
  • From 6:45-7:15 pm, I ring bells and chimes with 2nd-5th grade children. 

Some kids I only see in one setting. Others I see at two or three. Some are there every week.  Others only drop by occasionally. I am thrilled to work with all of them!

Throughout this fall, the kid’s musical skills have improved immensely. Children who could only use their talking voice in September have now found their singing voice.  1st-5th grade students who could echo rhythmic patterns with only partial accuracy are now reading rhythms on their own. Second grade students who struggled to get a bell to make a sound in September are ringing songs with multiple bells. Everyone’s singing range is expanding. Their pitch accuracy is solidifying. Their blend is improving. We’re singing in canons! It’s really, really exciting!

As exciting as developing musical skills together is, that’s not our primary focus.  Where we have really focused is using music to explore our relationship with God. 
For example, we’ve spent almost half our time singing songs that have Alleluias or Hallelujahs.  We talked about Alleluia being the way we say “Yay!!!” in church.  Then we went on to discuss that Alleluias and Hallelujahs are used in many countries and in many languages.  

If you were in church on December 4, you heard two songs that were from opposite sides of the world but each used Alleluia to celebrate. “He Came Down” is a lilting song of praise from Cameroon in West Africa sung by the Preschool-Kindergarten group (Joyful Noise). “Jubilate Deo/Raise a Song of Gladness” is a song of praise from the Taizé Community in France that the 1st-5th grade Celebration Singers sang in Latin, English, and as a canon! 

We’ve explored many other songs with Alleluias from other parts of the world that haven’t made it to a church service. We’ve also discussed that sometimes we don’t feel like saying “Yay!” to God. Sometimes we want to cry, ask for help, or scream at God, and there are songs for those times, too.

As we develop our musical skills and explore our relationship with God, a community is being formed. On Tuesday evenings, I watch preschoolers who cried in September pause at the door to the music room, give their adult a quick hug and then, beaming, skip/gallop into the room to hop on my train—named “Engine No. 9”—that everyone is riding.  1st-5th grade children who were nervous to sing at all in September shoot their hands into the air when I ask if anyone wants to lead the sung greeting on their own; then cheer for each other when they get it right.  

In Sunday School, I see 2nd-5th grade students patiently help the younger ones navigate a hymnal, their fingers carefully following the words. Before worship, after worship, and in the fellowship hall the kids wave at me or prance up to have a conversation. These kids feel safe and welcome at our church, both among their peers and with at least one adult.  They are confident, they are comfortable, they are excited.  Most importantly, they love being here. What more could we ask for our kids as a church?

Christmas Joy Offering • Update from our Mission & PEace Committee

On the first Thursday of each month (or close to it), the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In December we’re lifting up the Christmas Joy Offering.

Have you ever searched for the perfect gift? Our scriptural theme notes, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (John 1:14), reminding us that the only perfect gift ever given is the one we receive in Jesus Christ.

The Christmas Joy Offering is one of four special offerings received by the Presbyterian Church (USA) during the year. This special offering is shared among two PCUSA programs and a local ministry supported by Derry Church. The two PCUSA programs support our past, present, and future church workers and their families through the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions and our Presbyterian-related schools and colleges who are equipping communities of color to prepare future leaders.

Through the Board of Pensions, current and retired church workers and their families can receive critical financial assistance to support them during unforeseen circumstances. This support could involve supplements to their income, housing assistance, or for an emergency medical situation. 

The PCUSA has long supported programs of higher education. Thus, the Christmas Joy Offering will also be used to support three PCUSA-related institutions: the Menaul School in Albuquerque, NM; the Presbyterian Pan American School in Kingsville, TX; and Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, AL. Funds can provide students with much-needed assistance while they pursue their professional goals, perhaps as future church leaders.

Derry Church will share a portion of our 2022 Christmas Joy Offering receipts with Christian Churches United. Steve Schwartz, Director of Development, has provided us with this update:

Christian Churches United rallies the community to love our neighbors facing homelessness, poverty and incarceration. Through their HELP Ministries program they provide rental assistance, utility assistance and other tangible aid to people who are in danger of becoming homeless to prevent homelessness, or to people who are currently homeless to help them get off the street into long-term housing. 

Susquehanna Harbor Safe Haven is a long-term residential program specifically designed to help chronically homeless men—those on the street for a year or more with a mental health diagnosis—obtain and maintain long-term housing. Their Street Outreach Team operates two winter overnight shelters, one for men and one for women, and develops relationships with guests in these shelters and others on the street with the goal of helping them overcome challenges and obtain long-term housing. 

All of these programs are funded by a network of local churches in partnership with concerned neighbors, businesses, and other funding partners. All donations provide help and hope to our neighbors facing significant challenges in their lives.

Gifts to the Christmas Joy Offering are being received now through the end of the year. Please give generously to this special offering. Thank you, Derry, for your support!

Dan Dorty • Director of Music & Organist

Christmas is a time of hope, peace, joy, and love centered around the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I invite you to experience the wonder and excitement of Christmas this Sunday, December 4 at 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm as the Derry Ringers and Sanctuary Choir lead us on a journey to Bethlehem to celebrate the babe born in a manger, Jesus the Messiah: The Promise Fulfilled.

The program, a musical tapestry, weaves Isaiah’s vision of seeing God, a peaceable Kingdom, and the messenger to come bringing light, love, and peace to the scene at the manger. The choirs will sing of Jesus in His mother’s arms, Joseph beside them, shepherds coming from their fields to see this Holy Child born in an oxen stall, the Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us.

The repertoire presented by the Sanctuary Choir will range from In Dulci Jubilo from the Medieval period to modern arrangements of hymns and spirituals, such as Sweet Little Jesus Boy featuring soloist Julie Miller, soprano. 

The choirs will be accompanied by brass and percussion, with Dan Stokes at Derry’s Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ and Mary Lemons at the grand piano. The choirs and congregation will have the opportunity to lift their voices in praise to the well-known and beloved David Willcocks’ arrangements of O Come, All Ye Faithful and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. 

The Derry Ringers will present Arnold B. Sherman’s Laudation and Paul McKlveen’s, The Hills are Bare at Bethlehem featuring Claire Folts on viola. Janice Click Holl will present Dan Forrest’s See Amid the Winter’s Snow. We welcome back to Derry mezzo-soprano Amy Yovanovich, who will share Pietro Yon’s Gesù Bambino. Mitchell Sensenig-Wilshire will join Amy in the beloved carol, O Holy Night. He will also sing the classic Christmas song, The Birthday of a King.

Join the choirs of Derry Church as they worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who has come to bring light and peace to this world! Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Kathy Yingst • Administrative Assistant and Clerk of Session

For the past six months, it has been my joy and honor to be Derry’s Administrative Assistant in the church office. For those of you who have ever wondered, I can confirm that the church office is a very busy place!

I was fortunate to have started in April, as we were easing into the summer months.  While the office was active, the steady workflow allowed me time to become acquainted with the responsibilities, procedures, and machinery associated with this position. Now that we are into fall programming with Derry Discovery Days in full swing and Advent just around the corner, the pace has definitely picked up. 

I’m sure many of you have wondered what it’s like to work in the Derry Church office. To give you some insight, I thought it would be interesting to answer a few of the burning questions that I’m sure you’ve always wanted to know but were afraid to ask:  

  1. What has been the most challenging thing to learn in your new job?
    Definitely using Adobe InDesign software. This is the program used at Derry to design most of our print and digital media, including the weekly bulletins and eNews. Sue George is a skilled teacher, and with her guidance I’m becoming acquainted with some of the tools and layout capabilities of this robust program.
  2. What do you like least about the job?
    There really is very little that I don’t enjoy doing, however, the saddest part of my job is preparing funeral bulletins when a member of our congregation passes away. Each one of you is a blessing and joy, so it’s with a heavy heart that I prepare the programs for the memorial services.
  3. What has been an unexpected bonus associated with your new position?
    At the end of every day (or most days), I turn out the office lights and move into the sanctuary to play the Aeolian-Skinner organ. What a beautiful instrument this congregation has dedicated to the glory of God. No matter what type of day I may have had, playing this rich instrument brings peace.
  4. What is the most surprising duty you have?
    One duty I was not expecting is overseeing the use of the church van. With the purchase of the new van, several new policies were put into place. To reserve the use of the van or to become qualified to drive the van, I’m the contact person in the office.
  5. In what ways has this position impacted your role as Clerk of Session – does it make it easier or harder?
    I think being in the office makes my job as clerk easier. Being on staff helps me keep up to date with activities at church and how they impact the various church committees. I have access to Derry’s minute books and membership registries so I can include any changes as they occur. Having access to the computer and copier makes preparing the minutes, session agenda, and other documents very convenient.
  6. What is your favorite office machine?
    Definitely the folding machine. It’s one of the oldest machines in the office but it makes quick work of folding letters and other types of printed paperwork. It’s a unique machine that is just plain fun to use!
  7. What is an unexpected joy associated with your job?
    I love greeting all who enter the building and working with other staff members. Derry is rich with talented, generous people who are dedicated to supporting each other and our community.  I love spending time with every one of you.  Feel free to stop by, grab a piece of chocolate, and say “hello!”

M.E. Steelman • Children’s Ministry Coordinator

It is hard to believe that Advent is right around the corner, but in a few short weeks we’ll see the world around us transformed with lights, decorations, commercials for the latest toys and gadgets, parties & social events, festive music playing everywhere we go, wonderful concerts & performances, favorite holiday traditions carried out, gatherings with family & friends, visits with Santa, creating and checking off our shopping lists, wrapping all the presents, sending out holiday messages & cards, and probably so much more that I can’t think of in early November. 

As the person in charge of children’s programming at the church, I imagine you all assume that the Steelman family practices our faith nonstop. Maybe the image you have is a family gathered in prayer before each dinner, ending each day reading stories from our many childrens bibles, or talking to each other with great kindness and love. I’ll let you in on an honest assessment of our faith formation at home… it is struggling. We are in the phase of life that has us running seven days a week to all kinds of programming and by the time we get home, stop running, and finally gather as a family, we are lucky if we are able to include a blessing during our mealtime. I am sure many others can relate.  

Being “in the trenches” with our church families helps me stay real when offering new faith formation opportunities for folks to try at home. Before sharing a family faith formation idea with you all, I have a few rules that I have set for myself:  opportunities must be realistic, they must be fun and a way to bring family together, they need to include messages that all ages can relate to at their developmental stage of life, and they need to be something that I will do with my own family.  

The other day I was looking at one of the many Facebook pages I follow that have ideas for children’s ministry, faith formation and/or Christian education. One of the pages posted about the return of the “Wandering Wisemen” and it caught my attention. I started to read a little and quickly realized this was a wonderful idea.  The concept is simple… the Three Wisemen spend the season of Advent wandering around preparing for the birth of Jesus. The journey of the “Wandering Wisemen” will conclude on Epiphany (January 6), the day they meet the Newborn King.

This Advent season I invite you to join our family as we have fun following the Three Wisemen. This will be fun for ALL ages!  All you need is a creche, or nativity set. You will use the Three Wisemen from your set and you can either create your own journey, find “Wandering Wisemen on Facebook and follow along with their suggestions, or you can email me and be put on our “Wandering Wisemen” email list. I will send an email each Saturday morning with ideas for the upcoming week, including a description of what the Wisemen see/endure/do each day. Your family can then enjoy going on a hunt each day to find your wisemen and talk about what happens along their journey.

Don’t have kiddos living in your home? No worries! You can do this as adults or you can make this activity a fun new holiday experience to do remotely with your grandchildren. With the use of video messages and live video conversations, you can have fun with your grandchildren’s faith formation this Advent season by talking with one another each day and going on a hunt together in your home to find the wisemen. What a great way to connect with one another and also learn from each other as you journey along with the “Wandering Wisemen.”

I invite you to join us for a fun adventure as we journey along with the “Wandering Wisemen” to help bring the Christmas story new meaning and also welcome it into our daily lives as we enjoy this year’s Advent season. Joining the fun is easy: make up an adventure of your own, follow “Wandering Wisemen” on Facebook for ideas, or email me and I will add you to our email list.  

Another fun way to celebrate this Advent season is joining us for Advent Wreath making on Sunday, November 27 after 10:30 am worship in Fellowship Hall. Click here to RSVP and join us. This is a wonderful opportunity for all ages to gather together for fellowship and create an Advent wreath to use in your home to help make this holiday season more meaningful.

Duncan Campbell • Co-Chair, Stewardship & Finance Committee

“Called to make a difference.”  You have heard this message to be Derry Church’s stewardship theme for this year.  I would ask you to think about the meaning of these words and how they might relate to you.

I believe that I was called to make a difference when I started a term on Session in 2021.  With this Session appointment came a committee assignment, Stewardship & Finance. I would have been happy to serve any of our committees, but Stewardship & Finance seemed to make sense. I like numbers.   balance our checkbook at home.  While I’m not a banker, per se, I work in the banking industry so I’m around numbers for a living. And, I’ve led stewardship campaigns at a previous church. All of these things seem to have pointed me to where I would make the most meaningful difference as a Derry Church volunteer.

Now, I will be honest: I had not anticipated being called to make a difference as the Chair of the committee at my first meeting, but as we know, God works in mysterious ways. And so, I write to you today asking that you think about the ways in which God may call on you to do something of meaning—something of difference.

There are many ways that we can make that difference at Derry.  Just read the eNews on Thursday to see all of the wonderful things that our congregation is involved in, from helping individuals and families in need through our various mission initiatives to facilitating multiple study groups for spiritual nurturing and delivering critically important youth programming and children’s ministry.  And everything in between.

I encourage you to give of your time and of your talents as volunteers. There is a place for all of us to accept this invitation.

As you think about the leadership role that Derry Church takes in our community, we can only do so because of generous financial giving by the congregation. Year after year, the congregation responds during our stewardship campaign. You are called to make a difference, and you do so by sharing a significant piece of your personal treasure.

We have tremendous pastoral leadership, the highest caliber of music programs, mission initiatives that literally change people’s lives for the better; and so much more.  Now more than ever, we need to recognize that these programs don’t just happen on their own. They happen because of the  congregation’s financial commitment—a commitment that results from our love of God and the pride in which we all feel about our Derry Church home.

Derry does so much for so many.  And, we can do even more. We are all called to make a difference during this stewardship campaign. I hope that you will join Kristen and me as we increase our pledge for 2023. But most importantly, I hope that you will give what you can, whatever that may be. Together, we can make a difference.

Pete Feil • Derry Member

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In November  we’re lifting up access to health care in the Harrisburg and tri-county areas. 

For many years Derry has supported Hope Within Ministries, Christ Lutheran Church Health Ministries, and the Community Check-up Center. 

Hope Within Ministries, founded in 2002, is a volunteer, donation-based organization which serves Dauphin, Lancaster, and Lebanon Counties. Hope Within offers free, primary health care services for medically uninsured, low-income residents (250% of the federal poverty level or less). Appointments are required: this is not a walk-in clinic. As one of the few providers in the region, Hope Within offers counseling services on a self-pay, income based sliding scale, and in 2020 dental services were added. Hope Within was very helpful in supporting Derry Church’s efforts in the early stages of resettling our Syrian family by providing necessary physicals and immunizations. 

Christ Lutheran Church Health Ministries in Harrisburg provides a free, nurse-run, walk-in clinic Monday-Friday. Patients have access to simple lab tests, basic physical evaluations, health education, and some social services. For three days/month with an appointment, patients can receive dental care and a weekly, walk-in oral hygiene clinic. A prenatal clinic for low-income, low-risk women is available, and a partnership with Holy Spirit Hospital provides advanced care and labor and delivery. A free, non-emergency urgent care clinic run weekly (by appointment only) is available.

The Community Check-up Center in Harrisburg’s Hall Manor area is another health care provider supported by Derry for many years. This non-profit organization provides services to men, women, and children in acute situations and to those managing chronic illnesses. Preventive health screenings, and immunizations are available. The Check-up Center also provides free gynecological and family planning services for women who are uninsured and meet age and income eligibility requirements. 

These non-profit organizations are heavily dependent upon contributions for the support of their programs. Derry Church provides assistance to all three of these essential ministries through our  Mission & Peace Committee, which receives a portion of the church’s annual budget. Thus, your pledges and contributions are essential in helping to support a variety of health care services to those in need across the Central Pennsylvania region.