Kari King • President and CEO, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

On the first Thursday of each month (or close to it), the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In August we’re lifting up Education of Children. The Mission & Peace Committee has supported Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) for many years. They value PPC’s continued advocacy for the health and education for the children in our state. This letter from Kari King confirms the value of Derry Church continuing its support of the organization in the future.

As the statewide, nonpartisan, nonprofit child advocacy organization with a vision to ensure every child living in Pennsylvania can thrive and reach their full potential, PPC focuses its efforts on ensuring that: 

  • Children and their families have access to affordable, high-quality child care and pre-k.
  • Children can access an adequate and equitable high-quality public education.
  • Each pregnant woman and child has access to affordable, quality health care. 
  • Children can grow up in a home where they are safe and protected from abuse and neglect.

Our work across policy issues is centered in four key strategies: analyze and interpret data to inform our policy work as well as conduct high-quality research; work with stakeholder partners at various coalition tables to raise advocate voices; serve as an objective resource for the media on policies impacting kids; and educate policymakers at the state and federal levels on both sides of the aisle.

We are especially proud of recent accomplishments achieved through our advocacy work, including:

  • A total increase in funding for pre-k of $79 million in the 2022-23 state budget – the largest in its history since the Pre-K Counts program was enacted in 2007. In the past eight years, pre-k programs have seen 187% growth in state support, currently serving over 65,000 eligible children statewide and over 1,600 in Dauphin County.
  • For child care, funding in the 2022-23 state budget to support the sector’s workforce with $2,500 one-time recruitment and retention bonuses (using $90 million in federal stimulus funds) and an additional $25 million in state funding to increase eligibility for the Child Care Works subsidy program up to 300% of the federal poverty level, helping working families afford child care.
  • Historic investments for K-12 education funding, which in addition to a $750 million increase for basic education also included additional support for special education and career and technical education, as well as $200 million for grant programs split between school-based mental health services and physical safety needs.  

In the remaining months of the year, we are excited to focus on some federal work, with reauthorization needed of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, or MIECHV, in US Congress. Often referred to simply as “home visiting,” these programs pair families looking for additional support and mentoring with their parenting skills with trained professionals such as nurses or social workers. These customized services impact outcomes ranging from improved child health, improved early childhood literacy, and improved family economic self-sufficiency to reduced instances of child abuse and neglect. 

PPC truly appreciates your support of the work we do. Without it, we would not be advocates on behalf of Pennsylvania’s children. 

D. Lee Backenstose, MD • 1915-2001

Derry Church is blessed by the many people who make up our church family. In addition to their roles and leadership at church, they have often played important roles in the growth and development of the larger Hershey community. Hershey Community Archives’ oral history collection holds interviews with many Derry Church members. These interviews provide information about their lives and contributions to Derry and the community. Thanks to elder and retired Archives Director Pam Whitenack, who compiled Lee’s history for this week’s message.

Daniel Lee Backenstose was born in Schaefferstown in 1915. He grew up in a farming community, often helping his grandfather with a wide variety of farming chores.

D. Lee and Dottie Backenstose

Lee attended Penn State University, graduating in 1936 with a degree in agricultural education. That same year, he was hired as Derry Township’s teacher of agriculture. In 1942 he was drafted by the army and served four years in Europe both in combat and later with the Army Judge Advocate’s division.

Seeing soldiers wounded during the war greatly influenced Lee’s plans for his future. While he had not had the financial resources before the war, the G.I Bill opened the door for Lee to pursue a medical education. He attended Jefferson Medical School, graduating in 1951. Interested in private practice, Lee considered establishing an office in Hershey or in Lebanon. He met with Jim Bobb, manager of the Milton Hershey School Farm Division, who encouraged him to set up an office in Hershey. While initially slow, the practice gradually grew. Lee saw patients in his Hershey office, and for additional income, also assisted a surgeon at the Lebanon Sanitorium on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Lee also remembered,

In those days, I had some patients at Lebanon, I had some here in the Hershey Hospital, and I was on the Harrisburg Hospital staff. At times I used to visit all three places in one day.

His practice also included delivering babies at Hershey, Harrisburg and Lebanon hospitals as well as home deliveries.

Lee was ambitious and blessed with boundless energy. In addition to his private practice, he also served as the HERCO (now Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company) doctor, including caring for the Hershey Bears, the Medical Director of Milton Hershey School (1968-82) and shared weekend duty and covered vacations for the chocolate company doctor.

When the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center opened, Lee opted to not join its medical staff, whose doctors were paid employees. He preferred the independence of his private practice. However, when Charles and Irma Millard established the Four Diamonds Fund in honor of their son, Christopher, following his death from cancer in 1972, the Medical Center asked Lee to serve as the first chair of the Fund. The Four Diamonds’ mission was to provide financial assistance to children battling cancer at the Hershey Medical Center.

A critical step in making the Fund successful was Lee’s efforts to engage the Penn State Interfraternity Council (IFC) in raising monies for the Four Diamonds fund. As Lee related in his oral history, he worked with Herbert Kraybill, from the Penn State gifts and endowments office. At the time, they were competing with other charities to get the IFC to lend their services to the Four Diamonds Fund.

And in those days it was really a touch-and-go, because you had multiple sclerosis and the Leukemia Society and everything else that were trying to get those students to lend their efforts and their performance to their cause. So we were really in competition up there a number of years before we established our dominance in having the Interfraternity Council put all their efforts behind the Four Diamond Fund down at Hershey… This year [1990] the IFC may have raised $600,000 for the Four Diamond Fund. It turned into a tremendous thing that we started. At the beginning we started with something like $50,000. That was the IFC goal. Now the IFC is up at $600,000 a year. It’s the biggest fundraiser we ever had. They raised a tremendous amount of money for the Four Diamond Fund. We couldn’t do what we’re doing today if we wouldn’t have the benefit of the Interfraternity Council from Penn State.

[Before the IFC involvement] in those early days, I used to go around to Lions Clubs and 4-H Clubs and give talks for benefiting the Four Diamonds to raise a dollar here and a dollar there, something like that, talk to schools and all that kind of business, which isn’t even done today anymore. But that was the beginning. That’s where we started. And look where we are now. Whew!

In 2022, the IFC THON raised $13,756,375.

To read the entire transcript of Lee Backenstose’s interview, click here.

Fun fact #1: Lee and Dottie Backenstose (pictured) were the parents of Derry member Amy Backenstose and grandparents of Auggie, Grace, Mavis, and Georgia.

Fun fact #2: Did you know that another Derry member has a connection to the origin story of the Four Diamonds Fund/THON? Click here to read the article first published in the Derry Church eNews in 2013.

Loretta Chubb • Hospitality Coordinator

It’s great to see people coming back to church and enjoying food, fun and fellowship. Speaking of food and fellowship: there are opportunities coming up that you and your family can enjoy and participate in here at Derry Church.   

Take the night off from cooking and enjoy a meal at the church. Terrific Tuesdays return on Tuesday, Sept 13 starting at 5 pm. We generally are able to serve until close to 6 pm. The meal includes an entrée, vegetables, salad, drink and dessert, and the cost is just $5 for ages 6 and over while children age 5 and under are free. We are always looking for help to serve and then clean up after the meal. If you are interested in helping, get in touch with me by sending me an email.  

Post Worship Fellowship following the Sunday (10:30 am) church service has started up again and is going well. This is a great time to catch up with fellow church members and friends and have a couple of cookies and an iced tea or lemonade. There are also opportunities for you to assist with “hosting” Post Worship Fellowship on Sundays. Click here to sign up or give me a call if you are interested.  The cookies and drinks are supplied: all you have to do is stop in the kitchen at about 10:15 am to get instructions. You will be helping to plate cookies and other snacks, serve the drinks and assist with cleanup afterwards. If you have a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, homecoming or other special event you want to celebrate, feel free to provide additional refreshments. 

Since the spring of 2020, we’ve added some equipment to the kitchen. We replaced our aging Vulcan gas stove with a new, more efficient model with six burners, two ovens and a griddle. The new gas stove saves gas, is more efficient and has more safety features than our old oven. It’s been working very well since it was installed almost two years ago. This spring we obtained a slightly used 20-quart mixer. Through the generosity of Susan Hines, owner of Steve Hines General Store on the road to Elizabethtown, we accepted this special donation. It’s already been put to good use in mixing up cookie dough as well as a real nice batch of twice baked potatoes. This makes mixing a large batch so much easier.  

In the near future I’m looking forward to starting a group to make cookies for Post Worship Fellowship. Keep an eye on the weekly eNews for further information.   

Roger Zimmer • Property Manager

A collage of building projects at Derry Church in the past year. Left: rebuilding the stone wall around the cemetery. Center: lumber from cedar trees removed from the cemetery and the installation of new lights in Fellowship Hall. Right: headstone repair.

I have been blessed with an active committee and members who bring their knowledge and skills to constantly improve and maintain our beautiful church.

Since last years’ update article, we have been very busy. A short list includes managing the building needs and working with contractors to install the new organ, repainting the Chapel exterior doors and the exterior of the church’s garage near the railroad tracks, replacing the broken glass on the south side of the Session House’s glass enclosure, fixing and painting three rooms including the church secretary’s office, the office now used by Sue George,  and the Heritage Room inside room 6.

Our maintenance team has changed with the retirement of Jeff Miller as custodian after many years here at Derry Church. That position has been filled by Josh Pearson who is bringing his energy, knowledge and personality to the team. We are lucky to have him constantly moving throughout the whole property checking for issues, fixing and cleaning where needed, and then working on the ongoing list supplied by staff and others.  

Here’s a list of a few of the larger, ongoing items the committee and I have been planning for, working on and constantly monitoring:

  • Planning for the 300th anniversary revealed some long-term maintenance and repairs were needed for our cemetery. A specialty contractor has been here repairing and resetting damaged and fallen headstones. I am also working with the stone masonry contractor on removing and rebuilding approximately 150 feet of the  stone wall that was close to falling over. This work should have the cemetery in very good condition for a very very long time. Take a look over the stone wall next time you’re at the church – I think you’ll be very pleased with progress made to date.
  • The stone work in the cemetery required removal of several old spruce trees and two memorial Dawn Redwoods. The largest parts of the redwoods were taken to a sawmill and cut into lumber. Portions will be made into benches by church members: the benches will be placed in the cemetery. There is much extra wood to be used later, and the mill generously donated all their work to the church.
  • The second phase of the lighting project is under way as we improve the lighting and reduce the operating cost with long-lasting LED fixtures. 
  • Later this year we will replace the rest of the spouting on the north and west sides of the building. This will improve drainage away from the building and prevent spouting from filling with leaves from our beautiful trees, and reduce annual and long-term maintenance costs.

We are also working on the building most people know as the Scout House. A small part of a stone wall is being repaired before it falls in, and some exterior wood is being repaired before the exterior is painted. 

I would like to thank the many members that we see very often doing so many things around the church, even without being asked.  

Karen Leader • Derry Member

Third Friday Meals on Wheels drivers prepare to deliver their routes. L-R, Jack Henderson, Chet Rose and Shel Parker place meals in bags,  Jack and Shel review their routes, and Jack and Sharon Henderson are ready to roll.

Editor’s Note: On the first Thursday of each month, the eNews feature article highlights the mission focus for the month. In July we’re lifting up elder care. You can always check the Joys & Concerns section of the weekly eNews for a quick reminder of the month’s mission focus.

About 25 years ago (maybe more!) I heard about the Meals on Wheels program from a friend, and went to shadow her to see what the volunteer commitment entailed. I discovered this was a way I could help others in need of food — even with my preschooler in the car!

Meals on Wheels is a program provided and funded by the Dauphin County Department of Aging. The meals are prepared, under contract, by the Nutrition Kitchen of York. They deliver meals Monday through Friday mornings to the Church of the Redeemer United Church of Christ on Chocolate Avenue, which is the focal point for the Derry Township program.

Chester Rose has been coordinating the Derry Township program for seven years. Five local churches are responsible for providing delivery drivers on the four routes. Spring Creek Church of the Brethren delivers on Monday, Redeemer Church on Tuesday, Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Church on Wednesday, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Thursday, and Derry Church on Friday. The number of meals delivered daily varies from 45-55. 

Our Derry Church coordinator is Mary Day. Each of Derry’s four teams covers one Friday of the month, and all the teams are assigned one of the fifth Fridays during the year. Our church members who volunteer have a strong commitment to this outreach service. There is even a list of volunteers who will substitute in the event a team member is unavailable. 

The recipients in their homes are always grateful for the food and your smile and conversation. And for me, delivering has been a rewarding experience. If you’d like to volunteer on Derry’s Meals on Wheels team, contact me, Lynn Porter or Mary Day.

Editor’s Postscript: Meals on Wheels in Derry Township has been around for decades, but we don’t know the exact history. If you can fill in the blanks, please contact Sue George.

Laura Cox • Director, Derry Discovery Days Preschool

2021-22 was a very special school year at Derry Discovery Days Preschool!

We concluded our school year on May 26 when 22 of our Butterfly 4s students graduated at a ceremony in the Sanctuary followed by a reception and art show. The children performed several songs for their families and it was wonderful to have everyone gather together to celebrate these amazing students. Each student received a diploma and award that highlighted a character trait they exhibited throughout the year. Jill Felter and I loved teaching these students and are so proud of them for all of their hard work during another year impacted by COVID-19. We wish them the best in kindergarten!

In year two of operating a preschool during a pandemic, we continue to be blessed by having so many dedicated staff members who truly view their students as their second family. This year we re-opened our Turtle 2s class and Morgan Smink led this adorable group, many of whom had very limited previous social interaction due to the pandemic. These shy, nervous children quickly became a family and confident little learners. Our Busy Bee 3s class led by Rachel Bullard was full of vibrant and fun personalities and their energy and excitement was evident daily as they learned, played and made special friendships.

Other highlights from our school year included a visit from the Hershey Fire Department during Fire Safety Week, our annual Halloween Parade with a special visit by Pastor Pam in her dinosaur costume, our Christmas concert, weekly yoga and soccer classes, Lunch Bunch, Mystery Reader visits, holiday parties, our end of year picnic at Patriot Park and our Summer Camp week. Many thanks to our incredibly special families who blessed us with their beautiful children and were beyond generous with many donations and fundraiser support. Lastly, we want to thank the DDD Board for showing our staff such love during Teacher Appreciation Week. We loved the daily treats!

We look forward to the 2022-23 school year starting on September 6 with the reopening of our Ladybug 1s classroom and the return of our enrichment program for pre-K students. Our afternoon Butterfly 4s class has a few openings: contact me for more information. We hope everyone has a great summer!

Rev. Stephen McKinney-WHitaker • Pastor

I’m writing to you from Ireland during my sabbatical in which I’m focusing on the power of story and relationships in the work of reconciliation. I’ve been asked by several people, “What exactly is reconciliation?”

Throughout my time in Ireland I’ve asked peacemakers and reconcilers how they would define reconciliation. You can read more of my in-depth daily notes about those conversations and more. Here are a few of their definitions:

Dr. Jin Kim says, “Reconciliation is building relationships between people who were oppressed because of the conflict structure so they can achieve peace with justice.”

Joe Campbell responded that reconciliation is a journey that takes courage and requires a willingness to let go of old hurts and both accept and give forgiveness. Joe said that reconciliation begins “with me and not the other person.”

Derick Wilson believes reconciliation is the overcoming of enmity and hostility between people, but it’s also about the relationships and structures through which we are at ease with one another. Reconciliation is based upon our relationships and the structures that maintain those relationships. It’s the central message of the gospel, but churches have too often seen it as peripheral.

Jenny Meegan defined reconciliation as forming relationships with people, listening and sharing stories, and meeting people where they are without expecting them to change. Reconciliation often happens by accident, but you have to be open to it and the possibilities of new relationships. 

Rev. David Latimer (shown with me in the accompanying photo) insists reconciliation requires risk. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby defines reconciliation as the “art of disagreeing well.”

As I’ve listened, read, observed, and discussed, I think I’ve settled on a definition of reconciliation that works for me and the work I want to do. I define reconciliation as “mending the tears in society caused by broken and fractured relationships.”

I like the idea of mending because it fixes what is broken, but it doesn’t completely erase the tear or wound. I think of mended pants after I rip them because of some act of carelessness. The thread closes the hole, but the scar remains. Reconciliation helps close the wounds in society, but it will not magically erase histories of trauma and scars of conflict. I don’t think it should. Reconciliation is not about everyone agreeing or even approving of each other. It does not magically solve every problem to everyone’s satisfaction. It begins the process of stopping the bleeding and closing the wound.

It reminds me of Kintsugi. This traditional Japanese art uses a precious metal – liquid gold, liquid silver or lacquer dusted with powdered gold – to bring together the pieces of a broken pottery item and at the same time enhance the breaks. 

The mended cracks become part of the object’s design, reflecting symbolically an event in the life of that object, rather than the cause of its destruction. 

When practicing reconciliation, we may end up highlighting the broken places in our society and relationships, but we will mend them and perhaps they can become something beautiful in our life together in the end. 

When I think about the friendship between Rev. David Latimer, retired pastor of First Derry Presbyterian Church, and Martin McGuinness, the former IRA leader, I see this principle at work (read more in the June 9 Sabbatical note). Many people didn’t want them to be friends and for a while it highlighted differences and struggles, but in the end, it brought healing to both men and the community. One man — whose son was killed by an IRA bomb ordered by McGuinness — eventually shook Martin’s hand after he spoke in the church one day. He told David he was proud of him for doing this work, because if he and others like him had done it 20 years earlier, his son might be alive. The crack remains, but it’s more than a broken shattered place now, it’s part of a story of wholeness. 

Reconciliation is about mending the broken places so we might become whole; as individuals and as a society. My hope is I can participate in the work and in mending the tears we’ve seen and experienced in our community and nation through the power of story and relationships.

Sue George • Director of Communications & Technology

This Heritage Note was originally posted on May 20, 2021.

Thursdays are busy days in my corner of Derry Church as I finalize the eNews for you and prepare the content that’s needed for Sunday morning worship and live streaming. Thursdays are also when I look forward to two fun treats: it’s the day many of us on staff order a take-out lunch* and it’s the day I post one of Pam Whitenack’s delightful “Heritage Notes.” 

You may not know that before she retired, Pam Whitenack was in charge of the Hershey Community Archives. Now Pam spends a day here at the church just about every week, sorting and organizing materials in our church’s historical archive. Not only is she preparing for our 300th anniversary in 2024, she’s also looking for little gems of history to share with all of us. If you follow Derry Church on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen and read many “Heritage Notes.” An easy way to find them is by searching for the hashtag #derryheritage (most of the posts are ours, but you’ll also find posts from a few other sources that have used that hashtag).

As we draw closer to our 300th anniversary, these glimpses into Derry’s past have been good for me to read and ponder. Looking back across the centuries, I’m reminded that times haven’t always been easy for our church and this community. The sepia photo of “Old Derry” with broken windows and holes in the siding is just one example. There have been years when this church has had no pastor, and times when the congregation was so small that others from the community stepped in to keep the church going: when “Old Derry” was torn down In 1884, a group of people, many of them descendants of early church members and former pastors, came together to support the construction of the Presbyterian Memorial Church of Hershey (our current Chapel). It would be many more years before Milton Hershey returned to this area and not only the town, but our church, grew and prospered.

It has helped me to reflect on Derry’s history as we live into this post-pandemic time. In the past two years, much has changed in all of our lives, and that includes our church family. There has been sadness and loss. Ways of doing things have changed. Not everyone has been excited about technological advances and hybrid meetings. I know who’s missing when I scan the pews and see empty spaces instead of familiar faces. I have to be honest and say there are times I walk these halls and my heart just hurts. 

Then a note from Pam pops into my feed to remind me that the long arc of Derry Church history always bends back toward hope. I know we have been here before, and it’s not the end but a new beginning. I have faith in this church, this congregation, and the God who has seen us through the past three centuries, and I can’t wait to see where God takes us next. 

* Long-time readers will remember that the staff used to get pizza every week. I’m happy to say we’ve branched out to other local restaurants: let me know if you have a favorite place we should check out.

Grant Wareham • Director of Music Ministry and Organist

The Sanctuary Choir singing on Sunday, June 5

Summer may have begun, but that doesn’t mean we’re slowing down in the music department at Derry!

I’m excited to share plans for our summer choir season. We’ll have all sorts of opportunities: our Tenors and Basses in the “Derry Low Voice Chorus” will sing in June,  our Sopranos and Altos in the “Derry High Voices” will sing in August, and the full summer choir will sing every Sunday in July.

No prior singing experience is required; all the pieces are based on familiar tunes, and I have practice recordings available. Music will be provided to you (early upon request), and we’ll gather at 9:30 am in the Sanctuary to warm up and rehearse. Even if you’ve never sung before, I hope you’ll join us! If I can answer any questions for you, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

We will also have some exciting special guests through the summer. On June 26, Bob Nowak and his marimba ensemble will provide all the music for worship. Bob has played timpani for us on Easter and Christmas for years, and he’s gathered many of his finest students from across the country for this ensemble. You’ll not want to miss them!

Mike Klucker will join us to play his cello on July 17, including playing a part on the summer choir anthem that day. One of Derry’s favorite soloists, Amy Yovanovich, will be with us on August 7. A quartet of singers from the Susquehanna Chorale — including our very own Greg Harris — will sing for us on August 21.

Here’s the full choir schedule. Take a look at your calendar and plan to join us for one or more Sundays:

  • June 19: Derry Low Voice Chorus/All Glory Be to God On High
  • July 3: Summer Choir/Eternal Father Strong to Save
  • July 10: Summer Choir/Nearer My God to Thee
  • July 17: Summer Choir/Creator of Beauty, Giver of Life
  • July 24: Summer Choir/Be Thou My Vision
  • July 31: Summer Choir/What Wondrous Love
  • August 14: Derry High Voices/Christ is Made the Sure Foundation

Craig Smith • Derry Member

As we exit the COVID lockdowns and restrictions, now is a good time to re-engage Derry’s commitment to our mission partners. The Mission & Peace Committee invites you to participate in Mission Week Lite. In conjunction with the Dominican Republic international mission trip, these close-to-home volunteer opportunities have been organized to support our local mission partners:

Work at the Bethesda Mission Mobile Mission

Distribute food, coffee, and supplies to homeless individuals at locations pre-determined by the Mobile Mission Coordinator. Meet at the church and carpool to Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg. Five volunteers needed, age 12 and older. 

10:30 AM – 1:30 PM SUNDAY, JUNE 12
Bag Lunches for Downtown Daily Bread

Meet at the church kitchen to assemble and then deliver and distribute lunches at Downtown Daily Bread in Harrisburg.  Supplies and transportation provided. Age 14 and older.

4-6:30 PM TUESDAY, JUNE 14
Serve Dinner at Bethesda Mission Men’s Shelter

Serve prepared soup line dinner to Bethesda Mission clients.  Meet at church and carpool to Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg. Five volunteers needed, age 12 and older.

6:30-8:15 AM FRIDAY, JUNE 17
Serve Breakfast at Downtown Daily Bread
Help prepare, serve and clean up breakfast at Downtown Daily Bread in Harrisburg. Up to two volunteers age 16 and older.   

JUNE 19 – 26
Volunteer to Help Families in Transition
Help homeless families by preparing meals, driving the van, or spending the night at Seventh Day Adventist Church on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey when they host client families sponsored by Family Promise of Harrisburg Capital Region. Learn more in the announcement in this week’s eNews

Pack Food at Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
Pack food boxes at Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg. Meet at church and carpool to the Food Bank warehouse. Five people needed, age 14 and older.

To participate in any of these activities, add your name to the signup sheets on the Mission & Peace bulletin board in the Narthex or contact Craig Smith at (717) 574 9296.

The Mission and Peace Committee thanks the congregation for your generous support to Derry’s local mission partners throughout the year.

Rev. pamela Meilands • Associate pastor for Youth & Families

Summer is coming quickly and with it comes a lot of fun for DPC Youth!  Along with the return of weekly Bible studies for middle and high school youth, we’ve got some fun new things coming up as well as our trip to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine.

New to summer programming is our Sunday morning Donuts and Devos (devos being short for devotionals), during which we’ll eat donuts and talk about God, Tuesday evening Adventurers Guild, where we’ll collaboratively tell stories by playing tabletop role playing games, and the Banned Book Club for youth and parents to participate in together.  

The highlight of our summer is most certainly the upcoming trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. From July 16-23, we will experience God’s creation, worship together, and take time to connect and reconnect with our church friends. The youth are excited to be able to travel together once again and, for many, this will be their first time in Maine.  We’ve rented a house (with a pool!) that’s about 15 minutes from the entrance to Acadia National Park. We’ll explore the park, worship in God’s creation, attend ranger programs, venture into Bar Harbor, and take in as much of the area as we can throughout the week.

This is an amazing opportunity for our youth but we need help to make it a reality. It’s our goal to raise about $10,000 for this trip and we’re trying something a little different this year. When you donate now, you’ll receive awesome gifts and benefits later – some will be sent while we’re on the trip and some will come your way shortly after we get back.  

All donors will be invited to a meal and presentation in late August or early September to hear more about the wonderful things that we experienced in Maine. Depending on how much you donate, you may receive a postcard from Acadia National Park, a personalized video message during the trip, or even a fresh whoopie pie delivered to your pew (or your door) when we return on Sunday, July 24.  The graphic below tells you more about each of the sponsorship tiers.

Head to the youth page on our church website for more information about the trip, a link to donate online, and to see some of what your donations could make possible!

Ryan Hosenfeld • Troop 200 Eagle Scout

Ryan Hosenfeld

When you have ambitions, there are usually three stages I’ve noticed. First, you are young, naive, and start your journey believing that you will absolutely reach your goal. Second, after progressing for a while, you soon realize that there is a chance of failure. This could be due to seeing others fail to achieve similar goals, or it could just be due to yourself maturing. Either way, you now know that this goal you seek will be a lot more difficult than you originally thought. 

This can be a scary thought for some, but it is important. Accepting that you can fail makes succeeding all the more triumphant, because when success requires your own effort, rather than being a guarantee, it emphasizes that YOU earned it. 

This was how I viewed my journey to becoming an Eagle Scout, and as I look back on it, I love to observe how my peers and I grew over these years. We made so many fun memories in events like the Pinewood Derby and the Scout House sleepovers and went on so many fun outings like sleeping on a 19th century sail-only warship, sailing on the Chesapeake, and whitewater rafting in the Poconos. But finding safe spots to pitch tents, going on high-adventure ropes courses, learning new cooking skills, and acquiring merit badges… that is only a fraction of how scouting affected me. To say that scouting influenced my life would be an understatement. 

I have been with scouts since I was a Tiger Cub – nearly a decade. It has most definitely played a role in shaping me as a person. Overall, I would say that scouting was a very positive experience for me (after all, I’ve stuck with it for all of these years), but… it’s a very complicated journey – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Becoming an Eagle Scout and actually finishing this seemingly out of reach goal feels nothing but utterly surreal. Even now, as I am writing this, I think to myself… “Wow… this actually happened… I actually made it this far…”. It’s a truly incredible milestone. 

If you can only take away one piece of information from this message, let it be this: It is impossible to accomplish certain things on your own. And that’s okay. Achieving a goal this large is something that you cannot do by yourself. I certainly couldn’t make it without the support of my friends and family, and there should be no shame in seeking out that support. Humans, like many other animals, have evolved to be a social species. We rely on each other to help each other. So help others, but more importantly, accept help from others!

If you know any boys or girls ages 5-17 who are interested in joining the Scouting program or learning more about the opportunities, here is some helpful information. Derry Church sponsors three scouting units: Pack 200 Cub Scouts (for boys and girls grades K-5), Troop 200 Scouts (for boys grades 6-12), and Troop 2200 Scouts (for girls grades 6-12).