William Cherry Memorial Academy

Our thanks to Anne and Don Griswold for their lead gift to establish the annual Cherry Academy. 

Starting in 2022, PRC’s annual William Cherry Memorial Academy is a year-long series of learning and engagement opportunities around a central topic of vital importance to our community. Events will explore each year’s topic of social importance from various lenses. The Academy honors the legacy of Rev. Dr. William Cherry. 

During his lifetime, Rev. Dr. Cherry, former pastor of Lancaster churches First United Methodist Church and Grandview Church, drew people together to discuss timely issues. He inspired curiosity within and conversation between those who gathered to take part in his “Academy.”

As a religious leader, Rev. Dr. Cherry was passionate in encouraging believers to wrestle with the difficult path laid out in the heart of the Gospel, and the Academy helped participants engage issues of social and theological importance.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me….Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
– Matthew 25 : 35-36, 40

The Cherry Academy topical years will encourage broad collaboration between individuals, faith communities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses through education, conversation, and action in our community.

Cherry Academy Topic of the Year:


Upcoming topics could include:

    • Food Insecurity
    • Climate Change
    • Healthcare
    • Prison and Detention Reform

Housing: 2022 Cherry Academy

Join us for events exploring the Cherry Academy 2022 focus:

Housing Overview

With a national shortage in housing inventory and an average 7.9% increase in home prices year-over-year, the local housing market in Lancaster is tight. Affordable housing properties can be sold and flipped to turn a profit, and an influx of high-income New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore renters push property developers toward luxury projects. Finding or staying in an affordable living situation has become a crisis for low-middle-income Lancastrians. How can individuals, organizations, and churches help?

Housing Panel

     March 29, 7:00-8:30pm

The first informational panel, on March 29, will introduce the local nonprofits and organizations doing this work as a way of informing and educating Lancaster County-based congregations and individuals about this topic. The goal is to give organizations the stage to explain what they already do and what still needs to be done. Topics covered include a Local Overview, Affordable Housing, Homelessness, and Housing Insecurity. Click here to register for this free event.

Creative Funding (Landis Clergy Breakfast)

Apr 28, 8:00-10:00am

Whether it’s housing or another missional topic that excites your church, how do you build momentum and harness your congregation’s energy to further your work? How do you get creative to find the resources needed to further your goals? And what responsibility does your congregation and the broader church have to God’s economy?

Susannah Conner, M.Div., will be joining us to share her unique view on the church, resource development, and the solidarity economy. Susannah is grant writer and development consultant, specializing in fundraising for nonprofit, cooperative, and faith-based organizations. Click here to register for this free event.

Churches & Housing Panel

May 24, 7:00-8:30pm

The second panel, on May 24, will highlight unique church-based housing projects. Hear the logistics behind how groups brainstormed ideas, implemented projects, and plan for ongoing management and expansion. Click here to register for this free event. 

Stay Tuned for Additional Events Later This Year

The fall panel will focus on the benefits of multi-income housing. Multi-income housing developments prevent further economic segregation by creating housing that includes many price-points—from luxury to affordable. When done well, multi-income housing can increase diverse connections within our community. The panels will be free to attendees and a recording will be made available for churches and groups to revisit.

The final event in 2022 will be a facilitated discussion with churches and individuals interested in further involvement. But we don’t think the conversation will end there. This year’s Cherry Academy events will not only expand knowledge of housing issues in the city and county but also help people better connect with the local organizations and with emerging projects. We hope that 2023 will bring work groups and greater involvement in this issue!

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