The Rev. Dennis W. Derr became the new senior pastor at First United Methodist Church, Hollidaysburg, this summer. Having had a few months to become familiar with the church where about 700 people attend regularly, he said, "It's a great place. So much is happening. Things are going well and we expect them to even go better."
Derr said he believes God assigned him and Associate Pastor Amy Raser to oversee the church which has five services each weekend from contemporary to traditional. Service times are 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. Saturdays and 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sundays.
While the church has many activities, Derr is open to ideas.
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski) The Rev. Dennis Derr is senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Hollidaysburg.
"We will continue to look for new ways to do mission and reach more people for Jesus Christ. It is my desire to serve God's purposes in this generation. But this is not about me, it is all about God in Jesus Christ and what God is able to do through frail human beings," he said.
One of the ways, Derr will serve is by leading a program beginning in January to read through the Bible in a year. The sessions will be based on, "Rooted in the Word," a book he wrote.
The program will be open to anyone who wants to participate, and some of his sermons will be based on the readings for that particular week.
The Derr file
Name: Dennis W. Derr
Family: Wife, Diane; daughters, Karen (David) Hoyes and Dr. Sarah (Dr. Steven) Sterious; son, Joshua; grandchildren, Marissa Hoyes and Matthew and Stavi Sterious.
Education: Associate's degree, Williamsport Area Community College in 1972; bachelor's degree, Bloomsburg State College in 1974; and master of divinity degree, Wesley Theological Seminary in 1979.
Previous pulpits served: Trinity United Methodist in Danville and churches near York, Williamsport, Belleville and Millersville.
Years in ministry: 35
And although he considers himself a history buff, Derr said, "music is the passion of my life."
He plays guitar but doesn't plan to contribute to First's music ministry very often.
"There are so many wonderful musicians here," he said. "But for the Christmas night service, I might break out my acoustic guitar."
The Mirror asked him the following questions about his work:
What inspired you to become a pastor?
I started out in education, and taught history in a middle school prior to being obedient to God's call to ministry.
I received a direct call from God into ministry while serving as a counselor for a senior high camp.
What is the greatest thing about your job?
I meet people at critical teachable moments where the grace and love of the one true living God can be applied to the point of their need.
Each day is different and life is a thrill. There is a great joy in knowing and serving Jesus Christ, and I have the pleasure of being a yielded vessel through whom God can pour out that grace.
What are your gifts and talents?
I have a pastor's heart and bring the gifts of preaching, teaching and administration to the pastoral leadership, which I am honored to serve with associate pastor, the Rev. Amy Raser. It is "a God thing" that put Amy and me together as the pastoral leadership at this point in time as we make disciples for Jesus Christ and the transformation of the world.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I suppose a word from my grandmother, "Never eat anything without pausing to give God thanks for it, even if it's only a crust of bread." And the second best advice, a word from one of my children during the transition to Hollidaysburg, "Be yourself dad, it's got you this far and you've had success."
What are your interests?
My hobbies and interests center on travel and music. I love to see the world and encounter various cultures.
I've traveled extensively through the Holy Land.
And I'm a guitar player.
I enjoy classic rock from the '50s and '60s and praise and worship music.