Pastor Stephen invited others who had never been there to join him and Mission & Peace committee members in serving dinner to workers at the Grantville racetrack in April.
September 20, 2018
Rev Stephen McKinney-Whitaker
Over the next several weeks you’ll hear a lot of answers to the question “Why Derry?” We’re going to explore together why we invest our time, talent, and treasure into Christ’s work through Derry Church and why Derry church exists in the first place; what is the mission and purpose for our church? Hopefully, you’ve been reading the “Find Out Why” each week in the bulletin this year and learning about why different church members participate in different ways in the life of the church.
Since we just passed the one-year anniversary of my installation as pastor at Derry, I was thinking about why I felt called to Derry. I was happy at the church in Peoria and we were doing good ministry. I didn’t feel I had to leave, but I did feel a call to something new. I discerned a call to Derry.
I felt Derry had deep roots, but was primed and ready for new growth. Derry appeared to be a church ready to grow in new ways and try new things, while remaining rooted in an important and faithful tradition. I appreciated the strong leadership within the church, and not just in the staff. Members at Derry are leaders, not just participants. You have ideas and you help see them through. You take responsibility for programs and you lead in all areas of the church: worship, education, mission, and fellowship. I was impressed with Derry’s commitment to mission. It was clear you gave many funds to missions locally and around the world, but were increasing your hands-on engagement through mission, which excited me.
There were so many good things about Derry, but I also saw room to grow, improve, adapt, and change. I think some of my gifts are helping churches reassess their mission, vision, and values while creating new opportunities for ministry among their members and communities. My gifts and passions wouldn’t be put to good use at a church that felt it was doing everything perfectly and nothing needed to change. Derry represented that healthy mixture of being open and ready for change, but also confident that it is doing good ministry and not everything has to change.
I also felt drawn to the people of Derry. The PNC had both high cognitive and emotional intelligence about the church and the community. They were welcoming, fun, and passionate about Derry. I could tell the staff was gifted and committed to their work and the congregation was active, energetic, and committed to Christ.
Everything I felt was true about Derry has been confirmed this past year. Derry is rooted, giving, and growing. Derry connects neighbors to God and each other through faithful and loving community. Derry proclaims God’s word, shares God’s love, and promotes God’s justice. Derry provides meaning, guidance, and support at the intersection of life and faith. This is why I felt, and feel, called to ministry at Derry Presbyterian Church.