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:
Past topics have included:
Upcoming topics could include:
Prison and Detention Reform
Healthcare Access Overview
In Penn Medicine’s Lancaster General Health Community Improvement Plan FY2023-FY2025, they share insights from community surveys on health. The top three recommendations to improve access to care were to reduce the cost of care, help people understand and navigate services, and improve health insurance coverage. Citizens and nongovernmental entities may not be able to make a meaningful impact on the cost of care or the quality of health insurance coverage, but we see an opportunity to make the second recommendation a reality; through a community-wide education initiative, we can help people understand the local healthcare system and make the navigation of services a journey we go on together.
In 2020, PRC coordinated 20 local congregations to forgive $3.1 million of medical debt. In 2024, PRC will run this medical debt forgiveness campaign again, and encourages local faith congregations to get involved. This is a concrete way to benefit our community as partnering faith communities—from very small to very large congregations, and from across the theological spectrum.