Rev. David C. Derby


Rev. David C. Derby, 80, of Clay, NY, died June 23, 2014.

Rev. Derby grew up near Auburn, NY graduating from Port Byron HS and Lynchburg College, VA with a B.A. degree in 1955. He was conferred a Master of Divinity degree in 1958 from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, NY.

He was Ordained in the First Christian Church, Auburn, (Now United Church of Christ) in 1954, while still a Senior in College.

As a student, he served as Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Naola, VA and Lake Ave. Methodist Church, Rochester, NY.

He served as pastor of three Disciples of Christ congregations in Virginia including Grafton Christian Church, and for 35 years at Laurel Hill Christian and Strasburg Christian Churches. He served on the Strasburg Town Council, hospital Chaplaincy, radio ministry,

Community Relief and Compassion Cupboard.

He served a 13-year pastorate with Malden Road UCC in Mattydale. During the course of his pastoral experience he served the wider Church as Chair of Finance, Clergy, Personnel and as Regional Moderator for the Christian Church (DOC) in Virginia.

Most recently, serving as Secretary of the NY Conference Commission on Ministry and member at large on the Oneida Assoc. General Ministry Team. He served as Elder Trustee and chair of the Response Committee of the Christian Church (DOC), Northeastern Region.

He is author of the book, Thank God and Take Courage.

Surviving are Phyllis H. Derby, his beloved wife of 59 years; son David, and wife, Young Hee Derby of Windsor Locks, CT; brother, Jon Derby of New Bern, NC; and two sisters, Ruth Anne Barnhardt of Bloomington, IN and Sheryl Douglas of New Bern, NC.

Memorials may be made to Malden Road UCC, 108 Malden Rd., Mattydale, NY 13211 or Colgate Rochester Divinity School, 1100 S. Goodman St., Rochester, NY 14620.

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Strasburg Christian Church

(Disciples of Christ)

165 High Street

Strasburg, Virginia 22657


Sunday Morning Worship Services 11:00 a.m.

Sunday School Adult and Youth Classes 9:45 a.m.

Nursery provided for Sunday morning services and special activities.



By, Rev. David Derby

Meetings of the Christian Church or Church of Christ, as it was called, were held in Strasburg as early as 1808. Joseph Thomas, know as the White Pilgrim, James O'Kelly and Fredrick Plummer preached in the community on visits around that period. Worship was held in the homes of members in and around the village of Strasburg. In the 1820's the members built a church building at Oranda, a rural community near Strasburg. This was a central location for most of the members.

On January 19, 1856, 11 members met to organize a congregation in the town of Strasburg. These members were, John Pirkey, Mary Pirkey, Noah Funk, Obed Funk, Mary Funk, William Robinson, John Strosnider, Elizabeth Strosnider, Sarah Ridenour, Phil Thompson and Israel Baker. Worship was usually held in the local school but sometimes in the Presbyterian Church. The Rev. J. A. Cowgill was the first minister and served from 1856 - 1865. The congregation grew steadily until 1861 but apparently prevented from regular meetings during the war between the states.

In 1865 the Rev. John Pirkey was called as Minster and served until 1882. Under his leadership the congregation grew in numbers. In 1872 the present site of the Church was purchased for $225.00 and a building erected at a cost of $3,000.00. The Rev. C. W. Harvey served as minister from 1882-1884 and the Rev. J. A. Spencer from 1884- 1890.

In 1890 the Rev. James D. Hamaker began a distinguished ministry which lasted until his retirement 34 years later in 1924. Mr. Hamaker was then named minister emeritus. He died in 1931. The Rev. Hamaker became known as Bishop of the Valley. During his pastorate a parsonage was erected in 1892. The cost was $1500.00. In 1912 the sanctuary on the Church was enlarged and two towers were added to the front. Hamaker played an important part in the founding of Lynchburg College. He was also one of the founders of the Virginia Christian Missionary Society. During his pastorate a total of 673 members were added to the Church.

On November 1, 1925 the Rev. Arthur M. Wake assumed the pastorate of the Strasburg Church and served until shortly before his death in 1941. Under his leadership a large educational wing was added to the building and a Moller pipe organ was installed. A large house across the street from the Church building was purchased for the parsonage and is still in service as such today. Mr. Wake served the congregation sacrificially during the hard years of the depression.

On August 1, 1941 the Rev. Kenneth Ball began a brief ministry which lasted until he was called to the military chaplaincy in _______ of 1943. (added information, see below)

The Rev. Nelson Fox was minister from February 1944 until December 1949. Mr. Fox added a great number of new members and led in improving the interior of the Sanctuary.

The Rev. Charles E. Crank Jr. became the minister in April 1950. During Mr. Crank's Ministry the church was functionally organized and many improvements were made which increased the activity and influence of the congregation. Additional land was purchased which made possible the later addition of new building facilities. Mr. Crank left in October of 1955 to assume the pastorate of the First Christian Church of Roanoke.

On February 1, 1953, the Rev. Claude R. MacDonald became the pastor of the congregation. Under his leadership a large fellowship hall and classroom addition was erected in 1960 at a total cost of $88,000.00. This included some renovation of existing classroom facilities. Mr. MacDonald served until June of 1962, when he became minister of First Christian Church, Erlanger, Kentucky.

On September 16, 1962, the Rev. David C. Derby assumed the pastorate of the Church. In 1965 the Church sanctuary was renovated at a total cost of $11,000.00. In addition to this extensive improvements have been made to the parsonage.

In June of 1970 this amount plus the $44,000 indebtedness on the Fellowship Hall was paid off. Carpeting was installed in the upstairs portion of the old educational building. The worship of the Church has been enriched by the introduction of seasonal paraments and changes in the style and order of worship. Advent and Christmas services include the lighting of an Advent Wreath and the placing of Christian symbols on a Chrismon tree. Christmas Eve Communion Service has been introduced and is now a traditional part of our worship experience. Mrs. Phyllis Derby, wife of the pastor has served as Church Secretary since August of 1967. Each Christmas Sunday Worship has included a large arrangement of approximately 30 Poinsettias in the Chancel arranged by Mrs. Derby. At Easter a like number of Lilies which she arranged for the worship Services graced the Chancel.

In 1984 the Fellowship Hall was remodeled to include insulation, wood paneling, curtains and a new stage curtain. In 1986, the Pipe Organ was removed to the original factory and totally rebuilt, enlarged and reinstalled at a cost of $53,000.00. In 1991 painting and renovations were made to the Newer Educational Wing of the Church including a new Minster's Office and enlarged space for the Secretary's office. Also in that year, names of the ministers who have served the Church since 1925 were added to the stained glass windows in the Narthex thus completing the list of ministers who served previously to that time already included on a stained glass window. Rev.. Derby resigned as Minister as of June 30, 1997 completing nearly 35 years of ministry in Strasburg. along with this ministry, Rev. Derby served the Laurel Hill Congregation located in the Lebanon Church Community. Rev. Derby held two Sunday services per month and gave pastoral leadership and care to this congregation.

In addition it should be noted that the following have gone from the Strasburg Congregation to full time service in the Church. Rev. Asa B. Stickley (deceased) who served congregations in the Shenandoah Valley and in Kentucky,. Dr. Orville Wake (deceased) who served as President of Lynchburg College and Christian Board of Publication. Dr. Arthur N. Wake (retired) who served as Professor of Church Music at Lynchburg College and Lexington Theological Seminary. Dr. J. Stuart Wake (retired) who served Churches in Virginia, Missouri, Maryland, Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina. Rev. Allen G. Manuel presently serving a congregation in Mayslick Kentucky and Rev. Dana B. Horan (deceased) who served Churches in Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina.

The Strasburg congregation is a strong and vital link in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Virginia. It has Hosted State Assemblies in 1945, 1959 and 1972.


Delivered by Omar F. Pirkey, November 11, 1928.

(Mr. Omar F. Pirkey was the son of John Pirkey)

More than seventy two years ago, in the early days of the Restoration Movement, when there was much opposition to the plea of the Disciples of Christ, eleven faithful followers:--John Pirkey, Noah Funk, John W. Strosnider, William Robinson, Mary S. Funk (the first disciples of Strasburg), Katherine Pirkey, Sarah Ridenour, Elizabeth Strosnider, Phillip Thompson, Israel Baker, met in the old Grammar School House then standing on the corner of Holliday and High Streets, where Dr. H. T. Hopewell now resides, in the town of Strasburg, January 19, 1856, pursuant to notice, the record states, for the purpose of organizing a Church. Its body elected J. A. Cowgill as chairman and John Pirkey as secretary. In effecting the organization John Pirkey and Obed Funk were elected as Elders, Noah Funk and John W. Strosnider as Deacons, and John Pirkey as a clerk.

It might be of interest to mention here, prior to this date, in the year of our Lord 1808, a few persons at Strasburg, Shenandoah County, Virginia met as members of the Church of Christ, taking the name of Christians and agreeing to have no other rule of faith and practice, but the Bible. Among the several visitors to this Church, was Frederick Plummer, in 1809, who was well received and he was the first who emphasized the one Baptism mentioned in the Scriptures, and tho he met with some opposition, many by searching the scriptures, were convinced of this truth and were baptized. In 1811 Joseph Thomas and John Gray visited them and in 1818 Robert F. Fergerson (his 22nd year) came amongst them and in September 1818 he brought his family to Shenandoah County and remained with them until April 1846, when he removed to Baltimore.

The Church transferred its place of worship from Strasburg to Walnut Springs, August 26, 1826, from whence came the aforesaid charter members of the Strasburg Church, 1856.

It may be well to note that the first cooperation (convention) meeting held with brethren in Strasburg, Friday before the first Lords Day in September 1856, there were twelve members.

Churches of the town consisted of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, organized in 1770, the English Presbyterian Congregation, organized in 1824, the Methodist Episcopal Church in the anti-bellium days, and organized in 1866.

The ministers who have been laboring as local preachers with the Church are as follows:

The period from 1856 to 1865 was mostly occupied by J. A. Cowgill, who may have been considered as an evangelist yet served the Strasburg congregation.

He held one meeting, February 24, 1866, resulting on one addition, Miss Tena Baker, who married Newton Clevenger of the Galilee congregation, a consistent and faithful follower of Christ, Brother J. A. Cowgill from Hampshire County, rode a large sorrel horse, saddle pockets across his saddle filled with Bibles, Hymn Books and other religious books, and in the pulpit he sung his sermons--he was an earnest speaker and had a great many converts.

John Pirkey was considered an local minister, who was baptized by J. J. Jackson, August 1848; and at the Church meeting held at Walnut Springs, September 7, 1854, was unanimously elected a proclaimer of the Gospel, having been previously recommended by the annual cooperation meeting held at Zion August 25, the same year.

He was an elder of the congregation for nine years before he became the local pastor, in which capacity he served for 16 years, being with the Church a quarter of a century when he moved to Winchester, August 7, 1882, and remained there until his death, May 7, 1887. His body was interred in the old German Cemetery at Strasburg, Virginia. C. W. Harvey followed him in a brief ministry of about eighteen months, beginning August 6, 1882. He removed to Wellsburg, West Va..

J. A. Spencer, from Henry County began his pastoral work September 28, 1884, continuing until March 31, 1890. From here he removed to Bristol, Tennessee.

J. D. Haymaker succeeded him September 7, 1890, and served as pastor to Nov. 1, 1925, since which time he has been retained as Pastor Emeritus for life. J. D. Haymaker was from Snowville, Virginia, being widely known as an earnest and faithful Minister - very successful in his work. I dare say there is no minister in the Valley as generally known as J. D. Haymaker. He is known by many as the Bishop of the Valley. He has in all these years worked with us - marrying our daughters- burying our loved ones - visited our homes having sickness in our families- reading Bible Scriptures for us - praying for us and consoling us; This work was not confined to members of his own Church, but to other Churches. In all his thirty five years work with us, I never saw him when I thought he was angry, but once-years ago, when we arranged an entertainment of Christians to raise money for foreign missions. Some were to sing and recite, so as to represent in dress, people in China, Japan and other countries. They thought it would be nice to have several little "tots" to take part. They had little Louise and Hupp to say short pieces, (I won't give their sur names). They come out on the platform before a large audience and Hupp said; "Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow- Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.". Little Louise said; "I wish I had a little lamb, its fleece as white as Mary's. I would sell the wool and send the money to the Missionaries:. It was done so nicely that sister Hamaker who was present, endorsed it so much that she got brother Hamaker to call them out again later in the program. In the mean time brother Arthur (I won't give his sur name, even thought there are a great many Arthur's around), got behind little Hupp and told him to say his piece a little different as the people would enjoy it more. When he got up the second time, he said the first part of it - Mary had a little lamb, it's fleece was white as a yellow dogs wool". Little Louise looked up in his face as much as to say, go ahead and say your piece, Hupp, what is the matter with you", when brother Hamaker jumped up and said, "I don't like that and don't think it was very smart in one of the membership. It came very near breaking up the meeting.

Arthur Wake, formerly State Evangelist, resigning as such, Entered upon his duties as Pastor of the Strasburg Christian Church, November 1, 1925, when the Church had a membership of five hundred. The present membership, after some revision, is five hundred and sixty two.

All of these men have been well received, strong in the faith and able proclaimers of the Word.

For may years the congregation has no house of worship which they could call as their own, and after many efforts they resolved to build a substantial house of worship. In September 1871, a special meeting of the Church, was called. Obed Funk, N. D. Ritenour and H. K. Jennings were appointed as a building committee. Upon the departure of H. K. Jennings, John Pirkey was appointed on said committee. Through the management of these brothers, the house was built, the lot being purchased from Dr. G. A. Brown for $255., on which the substantial brick structure was erected at a cost of $3000. It was dedicated to the Lord by Benjamin Franklin, in 1872.

In the year 1892, under the supervision and general management of J. D. Haymaker, to whom the Church is much indebted for his extra labor and many contributions, he erected a parsonage, a frame structure, comfortable and substantial, at a cost of $1500.00.

In the summer of 1895, the Baptistery was put in the Church, at a cost of $250.00 and quoting the record of the former clerk, Obed Funk, the Church is also indebted to Brother Haymaker for his untiring efforts and watchful attention in bringing about the improvements that will add so much to the appearance and convenience of the Church.

The modern front of the building was begun April 1912 and the memorial window to Sally Kramer, who gave by will the fund of $2000 to erect said front.

Ground was broken in the early spring of 1926 for the erection of the J. D. Haymaker annex to the original building, at an estimated cost of $15,000. May 15, 1926 the memorial stone was laid by the Masonic Order of Strasburg, with other Masonic Orders assisting. The Moller Pipe Organ, was installed _______ in the Auditorium at a cost of $2250.00.

Under the strong and able teaching of John Pirkey and Obed Funk, the congregation meeting in the grammar school house, old brick academy, and aided by such Evangelists as J. A. Cowgill and George W. Able, there were added unto the Church forty two members to the year 1861. About this time the Congregation, perhaps lacking in Musical talent, employed on Isaac Painter, a member of the Methodist Church and known to may as the constable of Shenandoah County for many years, to lead the singing, paying him fifty cents a meeting.

* Rev. Kenneth Ball was born December 29, 1907 and died in 1962. He married Hilda Cynthia Miller, born April 9, 1907 on September 16, 1936, at Bethany Park Church, Brooklyn, Indiana. They did not have any children. He received all of his degrees (A.B., B.D.) from Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana. He entered ministry in 1927. He was pastor at the Strasburg church from 1941 - 1943. He served as a chaplain for three years and was deputy staff chaplain in the 6th Air Force when released from the service in 1946. He served as a Air Force Reserve chaplain. He was the pastor of the Lake Harriet Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then of the Ninth Street Church in Logansport, Indiana, until 1953.









Other links of interest

History, Strasburg Presbyterian Church, as published in the Strasburg News, 1917

History, Strasburg's St. Pauls Lutheran Church, as published in the Strasburg News, 1917

History, Strasburg Methodist Church, as published in the Strasburg News, 1917

History, New Providence Christian Church, Reliance

History of the Walnut Springs Christian Church, Oranda, Va.

Reverent Haymaker Strasburg News Article