Rev. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker • Pastor

In the summer of 2015 I had my first surgery. I didn’t need it, but I needed to do it. I had surgery to remove some of my bone marrow in order for it to be given to someone else. Who? I don’t know. All I knew is that he was 29 and dying. My bone marrow, out of millions of people, was his best hope of surviving. 

I signed up to be a donor because I knew two people whose lives were saved because someone else decided they would take 15 minutes to get swabbed and register with Be the Match. My prayers for those two faithful friends were answered through someone else’s willingness to donate. I thought maybe I’d be the answer to someone else’s prayer for his or her mother, father, spouse or child. I didn’t really think I’d ever get matched with anyone, but I thought it was the right thing to do. It was an investment in hope; hope that maybe someone’s life could be saved.

I received the call that I was the best match for this young man and that they wanted to do the surgery soon because the situation was desperate. He wasn’t going to be able to survive much longer without a bone marrow transplant. They asked if I was still willing to donate. I thought about my daughter Verity. What if at some point in her life she needed some kind of transplant: bone marrow, stem cell or organ? I would want every single person in the world to register as a donor in the hopes that someone may be the match that could save her life. If I felt that way about my daughter, then I’m sure someone felt the same way about this 29-year-old young man. And I remembered the commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I quickly agreed to donate. 

I went to Iowa City to make sure I was healthy enough to donate, and learned more about the operation and the recovery. The risks were low and the rewards were great. The average time to a full recovery is 20 days. Twenty days. Was I willing to trade 20 days of perhaps not 100% health so that someone could have hope; potentially have many more years of health?

I was sore for a few days and more tired than usual, but it was a great excuse to have that afternoon nap I’d been missing.  

Why did I give? For all those reasons above, but mainly this: I gave because I could. 

I had enough of what someone else desperately needs. It was not any great sacrifice to give some of what I had, but it meant the very life of someone else. It meant hope. I could give a little of what I had more than enough of to give hope to someone else and change their life. Honestly, it was a gift and a privilege to give and invest in hope. 

This fall our sermon series and stewardship theme is INVEST IN HOPE. When you invest your lives and resources in Derry Presbyterian Church, you are making an investment in hope. When you financially give to Derry,  you help Derry Church profess, practice, and share hope with the world. Our hope is eternal and it is too good to keep to ourselves. It is a gift and a privilege to give and invest in hope that can change and transform people’s lives.

When you INVEST IN HOPE you help us share our message of hope with the world through worship, education, mission, and fellowship. Your financial gifts to Derry transform lives and bring hope when people need it most, whether it’s the hope of love, friendship, a home, health care, a meal, or a friend. We bring hope in the name of Jesus Christ. 

Derry has been professing and sharing hope for nearly 300 years and we can continue because of your continued financial support of all we do here. In a few days you’ll receive a letter with more information about our stewardship campaign, a provisional budget based on requests from committees, and an estimate of giving card. We worked hard to lower our annual budget because we realize the financial challenges facing our community and nation. We anticipate a reduction in income to the church in 2021, so we ask that you prayerfully consider your giving to Derry in the coming year so we can continue to be a beacon and foundation of hope for so many. 

Thank you for all the ways you have and continue to INVEST IN HOPE through Derry. It is because of you that we can proclaim God’s word, share God’s love, and practice God’s justice. It is because of you that we bring hope. Thank you for investing in Derry and investing in the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.