July 2017

July 25, 2017: Fresh Growth


Last week, I talked about Derry Presbyterian's Deep Roots. You appreciate and celebrate a strong and vibrant history, but you aren’t just a historic church. You are also a church for the present and the future. You have Fresh Growth.

You have shared with me that while you love your history, you also love the new things that are happening. You are redesigning your playground, you’ve started children’s musicals, you have a Long-Range Planning Committee to think purposefully about the future, you’ve sent your youth on a summer mission trip, you are baptizing new infants and adults, and welcoming new members. You’ve created new staff positions, renovated your sanctuary, and are trying a new Sunday morning schedule. As one member responded to one of my questions, “We are a church with strong traditions that is open to change.”

One of the questions I asked was, “What is a hope you have for Derry in the future?” You have such hopes for your church. You have hope and faith in the fresh growth that is happening and will continue to happen. You have shared hopes about continued growth for your children's and youth program. You desire to have more young adults and young families in the church. You want to expand your mission and service to the community and be known as a church that welcomes everyone. You hope to continue your strong tradition of wonderful music, and you hope to start new programs that help at-risk children and youth and provide them with a safe place to go.

You hope to continue to have a strong traditional style of worship (Deep Roots), but you also have expressed desire to try some new forms of worship (Fresh Growth). One person suggested that fresh growth might look like one Sunday evening worship a month. Someone else suggested that Derry is open to new forms of worship as long as a traditional worship option is available each week. What I’m hearing is a recognition that you can’t have healthy fresh growth without deep roots. I think that’s important. You want to do new ministries, welcome new people, and grow in your faith. Those desires often come with change, but change is best done in a strong and healthy system. You honor and build on your history while being open to the new seasons the Holy Spirit is leading the church into. You have deep roots, so you can have fresh growth.

I am looking forward to seeing, and being a part of, that fresh growth as we grow in faith together.

Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.    ~ Ezekiel 47:12b

In common calling,

Pastor Stephen


July 17, 2017: Deep Roots


I have appreciated the opportunity to get to know Derry Church better through conversations with you when I’ve been in town, Facebook conversations, your responses to the initial questions I asked, and interactions with the PNC. I wanted to share over the next few weeks what I’ve learned from you.

First, I learned about Deep Roots. Derry Church has deep roots in the faith, in the community, and in people’s lives.

Derry has deep roots in the faith. I’m sure you know the history better than I do, but I have enjoyed reading the stories of its founding in 1724 and of its many iterations and resurrections since then. Derry Presbyterian has been a place for individuals and families to worship and serve God for a long time. You have expressed that you feel part of something bigger than yourselves at Derry. You feel connected to thousands of worshipers who have come before you paving the way, and hope that you will be a part of that long and faithful tradition for thousands more in the future.

You appreciate and honor your heritage and history by preserving it and learning from it. I appreciate your windows into the past on the way to the chapel, and the ways you connect your current ministry to roots in ministry that are almost 300 years deep.

Derry has deep roots in the community. You’ve been a part of this community since its founding. I read the stories of Milton Hershey growing up near the church and thinking this area would be a great place for his chocolate factory. I’ve heard about the initiatives Derry has started, the missions it has supported, and the faithful disciples it has sent out into the community to share the love of God and exhibit the Kingdom life.

Derry has deep roots in your lives. You shared meaningful moments the church has played in your lives from youth Sundays, sermons, small groups, and mission opportunities to being ordained as an Elder or Deacon, going through confirmation, singing in the choir, or being baptized. You’ve shared that the people of Derry are what make it so special, and that the relationships you’ve formed here are deep, vital, and life-giving.

Derry has deep roots and traditions. You have shared your love and appreciation for your history, your building, your traditions, and your worship. While Derry has changed a lot over the last several hundred years, there are some things that have remained constant like being a Christ-centered community that proclaims and shares the love and grace of God.

Derry’s deep roots connect us to a great cloud of witness, a long and faithful tradition of worshiping and serving God, and help us grow strong and tall in the community where we have been planted.

They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.     ~Jeremiah 17:8

In common calling,


Pastor Stephen