Andrew Mashas • Faith-Based Engagement Specialist, CWS Lancaster

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In December we’re lifting up a recipient of this year’s Christmas Joy Offering, Church World Service Lancaster. You can find the current month’s mission focus in the Joys & Concerns section of the weekly eNews.

Click to meet some immigrants who brought valuable skills to our community.

Church World Service (CWS) Lancaster continues to help resettle refugee families from around the world to the Central Pennsylvania area. After strong travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we started receiving families back in May 2020. Since then, we have received 92 individuals (consisting of 16 families and some individuals) from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Myanmar, and most recently, Afghanistan.

After a 20-year military occupation in Afghanistan, the longest running war in American history concluded at the beginning of September. What ensued was the largest humanitarian evacuation in American history. Over 65,000 individuals from Afghanistan were airlifted out of the Kabul airport after the Taliban regime overtook the capital city in 11 days. Those Afghan families were then taken to various military bases across the United States. From there they have been processed for resettlement with the nine resettlement agencies in the US, and CWS is one of them. 

CWS Lancaster has begun to receive some families from Afghanistan to the Lancaster area, and we plan on helping to resettle many more over the coming months. The Presidential Determination (the amount of refugees allowed in the US in any given federal fiscal year) was set at 125,000 allowed into the United States beyond the 65,000 from Afghanistan.

This clearly presents not just a challenge, but an opportunity. This dramatic increase in refugee arrivals, after several years of federal budget cuts, has prompted CWS to open a satellite office in the Harrisburg area. We hope to open the office and to start resettling families to the Dauphin and Cumberland County areas in January 2022. This will give CWS the ability to service and resettle more refugee clients to the Tri-County area than ever before. And we can only do this work with the continued support of the local faith community, mobilizing churches to be a welcoming presence for all who want to start new lives in America after fleeing from violence and war.

CWS, along with churches like Derry Presbyterian, continue to form sponsorship groups (called Welcome Teams) for small groups of people to walk along side of our refugee friends and neighbors during their resettlement and integration period. This program lasts for approximately six months as families look to get settled to the area, learn a new language, enroll their children in school, secure housing and employment, and continue to flourish in our community.

We are so thankful for churches like Derry Presbyterian for their willingness to walk alongside CWS in this exciting time. The goal is to serve as many refugee families as we can with dignity and compassion, love and grace as God calls us to continue to welcome the stranger in our midst.

Rev. Pamela Meilands • Associate Pastor for Youth & Families

Youth group gathered at the home of Brian & Julie Harris on Nov 21 for Fire and Field Day: an afternoon of games, crafts, snacks and a bonfire!

What’s happening in Youth Ministry?

I send an email with that title nearly every week during the program year. That email goes to the youth and their families. Occasionally, one of our events or announcements makes it into the eNews but I still get questions from folks about what the youth are up to. Sure, the puppets present a children’s conversation every couple of months and Youth Sunday is a big draw (which, by the way, is coming up in February) but the questions are understandable. The majority of what we do happens when no one else is in the building and, during times like the Sunday School hour when others are around, we’re tucked away in our little basement corner.  

So, without further ado, here is what’s happening in youth ministry!

On Sunday mornings, our youth participate in the Creative Ministry Workshop. It’s a time when we do some of the “usual” things, like rehearse for puppets and pray together but we also use the time for other creative endeavors and explore how faith and creativity intersect. We’ve created an art installation that will hang above the atrium during Advent, we’ve started working on our final puppet performance of 2021, and we’ll be jumping into Youth Sunday preparations, soon, along with other creative ministry opportunities.  

For the first part of the year, youth group shifted meeting times to gather in the evening, instead of right after church. We share dinner together before moving into a time of worship and Bible study, and close out the night with games. We also have fun special events, like the Fire and Field Day that Pastor Stephen just ran and a trip to a Farmers Market and Corn Maze that we took in October. We’ve got our Christmas Party coming up in December as well as the official announcement of our summer plans! I am hopeful that we’ll be able to get a retreat on the schedule for this spring but hesitant to make a commitment just yet because of the uncertain nature of COVID-19.  

Confirmation Class has been motoring along this year, too. We gather once each month, with a second optional gathering time being added starting in December, and between our meetings, the youth in the class are encouraged to interact with one another on a Google Classroom as they explore their faith and what they believe. Our goal for this confirmation class is to better integrate the youth into the life of the church so you can expect to see them in worship, at committee meetings, and working with mission partners, too.

In all, we’ve seen 25-30 different kids throughout the program year so far and average about 15-18 different youth each Sunday between our offerings. It’s been a pretty good start back after being forced online for much of the 2020-21 program year. I’m having a lot of fun now and I’m looking forward to the future as we continue to innovate and build up towards the excellent youth programs that we want to host at Derry Presbyterian Church.  

M.E. Steelman • Children’s Ministry Coordinator

When the program year began in September, I had no idea what would happen. In my own mind, I was consumed by questioning each program and decision. Would we have families attend Children’s Ministry programs? Is it too soon to start? What spaces should we use? Would we have enough volunteers to help lead our programs?  Would we be shutting things down frequently? I found myself talking to God frequently and ultimately following my heart and moving ahead with our normal programming, just doing so in a NEW way.

M.E. Steelman and children play and learn together at K.I.C. Club

September saw a return to Sunday School and KIWI. Derry was once again blessed with incredible support from our church families. We have an amazing team of adult teachers/helpers who are filling our classrooms with joy, love and energy each Sunday.  COVID gave us a reason to pause and ultimately gave us time to look at our programs and ask what we could do better or different. This led us to add an element of music to our Sunday School time, led by Mr. Grant and Pastor Pam. Children are learning some of the beloved Sunday School songs that many of us grew up singing. Our new curriculum, Spark Activate Faith, has us “Trekking Through the Bible” and having a lot of fun journeying through the Bible together. KIWI has moved to the Chapel and offered us a more special and sacred space to gather and learn about worship. The children enjoy exploring a true worship space and preparing that space with the elements we see in weekly worship that remind us of our sacraments, promises and ways we show our love for our Lord and Savior.

We created a brand-new program called RECONNECT. Pastor Pam has been helping our first and second graders adjust to in-person worship as they focus on the various parts of worship and help them learn how to participate in, and not just sit through, worship. We are hopeful that this new program will make worship more meaningful to these children as they rejoin their parents in December.

Pilgrim Fellowship kicked off in October and has been a lot of fun. Our third through fifth graders love having a time to have fun, be silly and simply be together. We have chosen activities that allow us to be outdoors as much as possible, that connect with many different interests and also offer an element of faith formation through learning, mission and fellowship.

Children’s choirs were greatly affected by the pandemic as Terrific Tuesdays and rehearsals were all cancelled. This is an area of Derry’s Children’s Ministry that brings joy to everyone in the church family and we knew we wanted to find a way to rebuild our choirs. Our church leaders worked together and created a new program, K.I.C. Club (Kids In Christ Club). K.I.C. Club gathers on Tuesday evenings from 5:45-7:15 and offers children the opportunity to explore our creative arts ministries here are Derry: music, creation time and fellowship. The children gather together for our opening circle time and then break into groups to rotate through our three classrooms.  Tuesday evenings have come alive again here at the church. The relaxed atmosphere has allowed us the opportunity to make deeper connections with the children and families of the church. And the children have enjoyed making new friends and experiencing each of our extended Children’s Ministry offerings.

When you and your family are ready, I hope you will join us and find a way to let God be a larger part of your lives. These days are full of uncertainty and decision making and I fully respect the choice each family makes, but also want you to know that I am excited to welcome you back whenever you are ready to join us.

I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and I continue to thank God for the strength, support and love that surround our Children’s Ministry programs.

Tracey Kinney • Co-Chair, Stewardship & Finance Committee

This year’s stewardship theme is Growing in Grace & Gratitude. When I think of what that means to me today, a number of things come to mind, some of them a bit different than several years ago when I was asked to write a similar article for the stewardship campaign.   

Each year as fall arrives and Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself reflecting on what is important to me and the many things for which I am thankful. The list is long and I consider myself to be blessed in many ways. I am thankful for my family, friends, my health, food on the table, a roof over my head and other things too numerous to mention.  

One thing in my life that has been a constant is Derry Church. I’ve grown up at Derry, spending the majority of my life attending here with my parents and then my husband and three children. The support and caring of my church family is  something that has kept me here for so long.  

Growing up at Derry, I’ve seen and experienced many changes and growth in the church — the physical building, staff, programs and increased church membership. We continue to grow and expand in new and exciting ways.  Many churches are not so fortunate.  

The past 20 months since COVID hit has truly been a test for all of us. Suddenly being unable to come together to worship and participate in the many church activities came as a shock. Things have been tough and we have all felt a void in one way or another. Not being able to greet one another on Sunday mornings, to chat at post-worship fellowship, to participate in church school, youth activities, Terrific Tuesday meals, just to name a few. However, through God’s continued grace and the combined efforts of so many, we were able to persevere and try to carry on as close to normal as possible. Finding creative ways to worship and continue to do God’s work, caring for our church family and continuing our ministry and mission work despite our limitations.     

As I look back on the past year, I am sure I am not alone in the gratitude I feel for how our church family has come together, caring and supporting one another. Gratitude to those that enabled us to live stream worship, church school, and committee meetings. Finding creative ways to worship and continue to do God’s work. Our continued support of various mission opportunities, caring for one another through personal calls from staff “just to “see how we are doing,” notes, loaves of bread and gifts from Shepherd Group leaders and Deacons. Meal trains for those in need. So many working to maintain a sense of normalcy. 

Now as we see many in-person church activities resuming, I find myself feeling extremely grateful for Derry and God’s continued presence in my life, my faith and for those that have worked tirelessly in the past year to provide a continued form of God’s presence and grace — whatever form it might have taken.

In this season of Thanksgiving and stewardship, let us reflect on what is important to us and what Derry Church means to you and your family. As you are aware it takes significant financial support to run and operate a church, especially one of our size with the many wonderful programs, staff and mission work that Derry provides.  Please take time to prayerfully consider what you can give to Derry for the coming year.  

Marilyn Koch • Chair, Mission & Peace Committee

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. You can find the current month’s mission focus in the Joys & Concerns section of the weekly eNews.

We at Derry Church are so blessed to have people with many talents and interests.  And making time to be a hands-on volunteer can bring a new perspective on our society. But even with the understanding that Covid has greatly impacted how our agencies provide services, I would urge you not to rule out being an active volunteer.  Our committee provides funding for several ministries in the midstate area and they can use your support as well.

We support the Community Checkup Center in Hall Manor, Harrisburg, which is a non-profit health center providing quality care to Harrisburg’s diverse and underserved children and adults.  Our own Gretchen Ballard served on the board for many years (they have been providing services since 1994) and is still working with them. She delivers the calendars donated by members from our congregation to the center, so they can be given to patients to track return appointments and important reminders. There’s a basket in the mission closet ready to collect 2022 calendars. The Checkup Center sees about 200 patients a month, about half the number they were able to see before Covid due to social distancing issues, although numbers are now starting to increase.

Our connection with Christ Lutheran Church’s Health Ministry has grown over the last few years. They offer the following four free health clinics in South Allison Hill, a neighborhood of intense need in Harrisburg where workers strive to be the healing hands of Jesus in that community:

  • The MEDICAL OUTREACH CLINIC is a free, nurse-run walk-in clinic in conjunction with Holy Spirit Hospital. They provide simple lab tests, basic physical assessments, health education, and some limited assistance with social service liaison, medication assistance, and the provision of items necessary for health such as blankets, hygiene items and underwear. The Outreach team includes a small core of paid staff and volunteers. Nursing students from HACC have clinical rotations there. Services are provided in English, Spanish, French and Arabic languages.
  • The DENTAL CLINIC is comprised of a team of volunteer dentists, support staff and translators who offer care three days a month for urgent dental conditions requiring simple extractions and fillings.
  • The PRENATAL CLINIC provides free prenatal care, including labs and radiology, and is offered to low-income women who are ineligible for insurance and whose pregnancies are in the low risk categories. Nurses and doctors determine the risk factor. Through a partnership with Holy Spirit Hospital, access to advanced care, labor and childbirth delivery at the hospital is included.
  • The URGENT CARE CLINIC has a doctor available weekly for urgent (but not emergency) medical needs. By appointment only, but free of charge.

Last, but not least, our own Dr. Larry Espenshade has volunteered for a number of years with Hope Within Ministries in Elizabethtown. They offer free primary health care services for medically uninsured low income residents of Lancaster, Lebanon, and Dauphin Counties, as well as low-cost, sliding scale counseling and donation-
based dental care thanks to more than 30 volunteer medical, dental providers, therapists, and nurses. All appointments are scheduled with patients for the medical and dental clinics and for clients in their counseling center, because they are not a walk-in facility.

Please consider these volunteer opportunities and how you can join these agencies in their missions to provide health care to our uninsured and underinsured neighbors.

Ryan & Sarah Bartz • Derry Members

When we returned to this area, we felt at home the first time we attended worship at Derry Church. Through warm greetings from folks like Nancy Kitzmiller, membership classes, and the nursery volunteers, we felt welcome. Now, whether we are in person, worshipping via the live stream, learning at Derry Discovery Days, watching classes on YouTube, or hearing what our kids did at VBS, Derry Church has truly become a home.

Sarah, Ryan, Oliver and Hudson Bartz

Gratitude gives us the eyes to see the grace of God all around us, particularly in the ways it is demonstrated by our church family. We are thankful for the beautiful musical gifts of Grant, Dan, and many others, to share in that ministry, and for the moments when the music grabs our kids’ attention and draws them into worship.

We are thankful for Pastors and staff who take a few minutes out of their own busy days to acknowledge birthdays or send a postcard. We are thankful for Shepherd Group leaders who check-in and truly show God’s love in sharing peace and joy.

Our kids have been regular visitors to the church nursery, and as new parents, we have always been thankful for the love of volunteers who comforted them and let them know that we were close by if they could hear the music (thank you, Sue Fox). As parents of young kids, our church family has shown us love in making the quiet room on the side of the sanctuary a welcoming space. Hudson has been part of Derry Discovery Days since he was a Ladybug, and Oliver joined this year as a Turtle. Our gratitude runs deep for the amazing teachers and the connections our boys have made to Derry during their time at school.

For our family, being a part of Derry has looked like church on Sundays, followed by fellowship, Easter egg hunts, Zoom scavenger hunts and learning with Mrs. Steelman, drive-thrus to offer donations and to share God’s love and grace far beyond the walls of our church, new friendships, and delicious breakfasts on Easter morning. Who can forget Pastor Stephen’s Derry Good News series during the early days of COVID? What a gift during that uncertain time to be reminded regularly of God’s grace all around us.

The gift of God’s grace and faithful, steady presence can be seen at Derry in the beautiful tulips planted around our church many years ago. We know the tulips will bloom each spring without fail, just as the sun rises each morning. We can count on this ever-present reminder of God’s love. We know we have the ability to impact others through a genuinely warm welcome or “how are you?” because we have experienced it, and by showing up for one other, the church itself, and the greater community and world. Being a part of the Derry church family has allowed us to inhale grace beyond measure, and exhale our gratitude. We hope the same is true for each of you.

Rudy & Marcy Sharpe • Derry Members

Marcy & Rudy Sharpe

Because our friend and former student, Dan Stokes, became interim organist at Derry, we decided to spend a few Sundays visiting Derry Church to hear Dan play. We realized from the first Sunday service that there was a friendliness and sincerity at Derry that led us to attend membership classes and become a part of that family.  Then COVID hit, and the opportunity to know more members of the congregation and to become involved in the life of the church seemed to disappear. The streaming services allowed us to continue to worship each Sunday, but we still felt removed from the actual life of the church and from fellowship with its members.  We couldn’t possibly know at that point just how important our connection to Derry Presbyterian would become in the following months.

As the pandemic continued to preclude worshipping in person, we adjusted ourselves to “remote” membership in the anticipation of full participation when the pandemic subsided.  Then, in a blink of the proverbial eye, our lives were upended, as Rudy was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. No warning signs. Just a quick trip to the emergency room, a diagnosis within hours, and brain surgery scheduled within days. Seeking some direction and support at a particularly difficult time, we turned to the Derry ministerial staff.  While one would expect the clergy to offer their guidance, we were not prepared for Derry’s pastors’ numerous expressions of care via phone calls, texts, emails, and cards. Indeed, their sincere expressions of concern extended far beyond what we could possibly expect! Their calm, reasoned guidance and encouragement provided a much-needed respite from the chaos that enveloped us during those dark days.

Even more astonishing (at least to us) was the outpouring of sympathy and offers of help from members of the Derry congregation, many of whom we didn’t even know.  Hand-delivered flowers, apple cakes, a stunning prayer shawl, and numerous cards with handwritten notes of encouragement were indicative of Derry community’s commitment to care for its parishioners.

Sometimes, when one reflects upon past events and their influence, one can see what Marcy would call “God winks,” events that display God’s grace without great fanfare, but rather with a whisper that says, “I’ve got this; here’s a special gift to ease your burdens.”  Derry Church is one such “God wink.”  How could we know that the clergy and the members would be right where we needed them, when we needed them?  Perhaps we didn’t need to know. “God winks” arrive without our requesting them or deserving them. They simply reflect God’s grace, most often through faithful, unselfish messengers, like the community that is Derry Presbyterian Church.

Jamie & Ellen Mosher • Derry Members

We originally began visiting Derry Presbyterian about ten years ago on the recommendation of some member friends. We were immediately impressed by the positive energy exuded by the congregants as a group as well as those we met individually. Our visits soon turned into exploring the new member classes and eventual joining as full members. Since that time we have continued to be lifted by the love and positive attitude of the church displayed by our pastors, session members and fellow congregants.

We have been particularly grateful for the family-oriented worship activities afforded by the 10:30 service. Our daughter enjoyed KIWI when she was younger and now is thankful to be able to learn from the messages delivered as a part of the regular service. We have also been grateful for the grace and humility demonstrated by our leadership throughout the Coronavirus pandemic as they have followed expert medical science in designing different worship opportunities in hopes of safely reaching the most people while simultaneously validating the rights and feelings of those who disagree with the decisions made.

More directly, we experienced the grace and love of church members helping us during some health care issues a few years ago as well as the support during Ellen’s mother’s recent transition into death last year. We have been able to enjoy the grace of helping others through the church’s many affiliations with various mission organizations, through the Pakistan student support as well as local families in need through the Lutheran church at Christmas.

We continue to be grateful for the many opportunities for involvement offered by our church. Jamie has enjoyed sharing in the music ministry through composing, arranging and performing. Ellen has grown during her participation as a deacon.  Meredith has had wonderful experiences participating with Pilgrim Fellowship, Pastor Pam’s summer Bible studies and now the Youth Group.

These sentiments all came into sharp relief during the October 2 service as we sang, “To everyone born, a place at the table.” From its upbeat rhythmic feel to its positive message of inclusiveness, this song encapsulates the spirit and attitude that we appreciate most about Derry Church. We have friends in the church from both sides of the political spectrum, from various sexual orientations and from many walks of life different from our own. We are therefore ever grateful that our church is a welcome place for everyone to come; where we can learn from each other and through our personal interactions be inspired to fashion a world where, “God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy.”

Editor’s Note: if you were fortunate enough to attend or live stream Grant Wareham’s organ recital on Oct 10, you heard the world premiere of “Up to Eleven” a piece composed by Jamie Mosher in honor of Dan Stokes and Grant. Click to watch an introduction by Grant and comments by Jamie before watching Grant play the piece.

Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker • Pastor

Several decades ago, the British writer and lecturer C.S. Lewis was asked to speak on the subject of Christian stewardship. He began with these words: “On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him.” I feel that way, too. Sometimes it is much easier, and safer, just to skirt around the whole subject of stewardship, of how we give shape and substance to our love for God.

We may choose to skirt the subject entirely, but the fact remains that stewardship is the way we define our faith and make it personal. It’s how faith becomes concrete — a part of our lives, not just a feeling we have or something we say.

I believe our faith is shaped by our experiences of grace and gratitude, which is why our stewardship and sermon theme this fall is “Growing in Grace and Gratitude.”

We all know the benefits of grace. Grace is a gift, an undeserved, sometimes even unasked for gift. Grace connects us with God. Grace gives us new life. Grace gives us a second chance. Grace welcomes us into the family of God. Grace is being welcomed in love. We all need grace in our lives. We need God’s grace and we need the grace offered by one another: the grace of relationships. Growing in grace is growing in love, life, and wholeness. We know we need grace.

But do we know we need gratitude? A research study done about ten years ago reported the shocking news that those who live from a posture of abundance and gratitude live happier, statistically longer lives. Gratitude makes us happy, deeply happy. Gratitude connects us to other people. Gratitude connects us with God and, in itself, makes us better stewards of all that we have and of this planet on which we live.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll hear stories of grace and gratitude from Scripture and from each other. We’ll be reminded of the power of God’s grace in our lives and what gratitude looks like. We’ll celebrate how God’s grace has been manifested through the ministry of Derry Church. We’ll show our gratitude through our financial gifts, to ensure God’s grace touches people’s lives for generations to come.

We grow in grace and gratitude as we proclaim God’s word, share God’s love, and practice God’s justice. And this year, our giving needs to grow in order for the ministry of this community of faith to flourish. Growth in giving is a sign of a spiritually healthy church. I encourage you to prayerfully consider how you can grow in your giving and your involvement at Derry, because your investment here can have a life-changing impact — not only for you and for our church, but for our community and the world.

Derry is an amazing faith community. It’s a place where I have grown in grace and gratitude, and I hope you have, too. Together we can show our gratitude with more than words. Let’s ensure that Derry Church continues to be a place to worship, serve, and belong for at least another 300 years. 

Craig Smith • Derry Member

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month (or close to it), the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In October we’re lifting up feeding those who are hungry.

In less than five minutes, find out how the Central PA Food Bank works.

During the COVID pandemic Derry Church, through the Mission & Peace Committee, provided additional funding to our non-profit partners’ Feeding the Hungry programs.  Here are two of the organizations Derry generously supported with additional funding this past year:

Central Pennsylvania Food Bank

Food shouldn’t be an impossible choice.  For many, a daily meal is just a choice of what to eat for dinner.  For those facing hunger, a daily meal poses a very different type of choice. It is often an impossible choice between food and other critical needs such as utilities, housing or medicine. How will you choose to end hunger?

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is the primary supplier of food and nutrition programs to many of our non-profit partners. Derry Church provided $10,000 in additional funding to the Food Bank, and church members volunteered to pack food boxes during the pandemic.  

Downtown Daily Bread

Downtown Daily Bread (DDB) is a mission project of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church in downtown Harrisburg. For 88 years, DDB has been a gateway to basic human services for hundreds of homeless and hungry individuals in Harrisburg. DDB offers a Soup Kitchen with weekday breakfasts and daily lunch meals; a Day Shelter with cots, computers, phones, and staff counselors; a winter season Night Shelter for men, and numerous assistance programs such as showers, lockers, mail delivery, laundry cards, vouchers for photo IDs, clothing, and other personal hygiene items.

In 2020, the Soup Kitchen prepared and served 11,465 breakfasts and 34,218 lunches. On an average day, 19 people come for showers, 61 people pick up mail, and 40 people check in to receive assistance at the Day Shelter. From December 1 to March 31, 28 men found winter overnight shelter every evening. Bag meals continued throughout the COVID pandemic, and after modifications to the facility, in-person meals and services resumed.

Derry Church provided $10,000 in additional funding to support COVID related building modifications and Day Shelter HVAC upgrades. Church members continued to volunteer in the soup kitchen throughout the pandemic.

Rev. Marie Buffaloe • Parish Associate for Congregational Life and Care

The Shepherd Group leader for Shepherd Group #14 (Stafford Heights ) is Gena Perry, pictured on the left with her husband Ray as they stop by with information for neighbors Elly & Dan Morrison. Cynthia Pearl is their deacon.

In the midst of challenging times, I am grateful for the ministry of our Board of Deacons, whose main responsibilities are providing compassion, witness and service to those in need.  They are supported and assisted by Shepherd Group leaders who especially in these anxious pandemic months have helped reach out in kindness and care to our church family. That’s not easy when our congregational members live in a variety of communities from Lebanon to Carlisle and lots of places in between. 

More than 25 years ago, visionary leaders at Derry organized a caring ministry of neighborhood regions called Shepherd Groups. A Derry member from each geographic group has committed to being the Shepherd Group leader and to work with a Deacon to keep in touch and provide care to members and welcome newcomers. Your Shepherd Group number can be found on your church name tag. You can also find Shepherd Group numbers listed in the Joys & Concerns section of the eNews and on the weekly prayer list.

When it was not so easy to visit in person, our Shepherd Group leaders and Deacons have been busy sending cards, making phone calls, providing meals and organizing meal trains. They have made visits on your door steps, delivered devotions and smiles (behind masks), and kept you in their prayers. When you have a need, please do contact your Shepherd Group leader or Deacon, as well as the church office. We are a stronger church family because of their gifts of time and commitment to reaching out in Christ’s name to offer God’s love and compassion.

Click here for a list of the  2021-22 Shepherd Group leaders and Deacons (PDF). If you don’t know your Shepherd Group, contact the church office or Pastor Marie. To volunteer as a Shepherd Group leader for one year, contact your deacon.

The Apostle Paul reminds us to clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience and above all clothe yourself with love which binds everything together. (Colossians 3:12) That’s a good recipe for any church family.

Steven Guenther • Treasurer

We have reached September and are entering budgeting season, so it is time for my annual update on how the church is doing financially and my projections for the rest of the year.

As of the end of August, we have a year-to-date surplus of $48,000 for the general operating budget compared to a year-to-date surplus of $46,000 at the same point last year. We have moved the timing of some payments to the end of the year, so when taking that into account, the comparable surplus to last year would be closer to $26,000. I believe we will probably end the year in the break-even to slight surplus range. In 2020 and so far in 2021 contributions to the general operating budget have trailed 2019 contributions. The lower contributions have been offset by lower expenses due to reduced spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Session, the Stewardship and Finance Committee, and the other committees look toward the 2022 budget and the future, we are working to ensure that Derry Church provides for the current needs of the church members and the community, and also maintains financial stability. We are looking at capital projects over the next several years and are working with the committees to make sure they align with the mission and vision of the church. By planning for the future, we can make sure we are managing our resources responsibly.

Through the generous support of the congregation, we have been able to do large capital projects, like the new organ installation, without pulling significant funds from the session designated accounts that are invested. Also in the past year, we have received generous contributions to create new restricted accounts like the transportation account which enabled us to purchase a new van.  We’ve also been able to add principal to session designated accounts like the Legacy and Capital Facilities Funds  which help maintain our church and further the mission of the congregation. We have been able to use dedicated and restricted funds to do mission work in our community and throughout the world – whether it be helping youth with college scholarships or building a new wing on a school in Pakistan.

I would like to thank the congregation for your continued support of the church and of mission work in our community.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything related to Derry’s finances, please contact me.