A Legacy of Faithful Service: Dedicating the David and Maxine Derstine Chapel

A Legacy of Faithful Service: Dedicating the David and Maxine Derstine Chapel

The Living Branches community came together to honor the legacy of David and Maxine Derstine during the Friends of the Sharing Fund dinner at Dock Woods in October 2023.

During this annual celebration, the chapel at Dock Woods was renamed the David and Maxine Derstine Chapel, in recognition of the couple’s many years of service to – and vital role in establishing – Dock Woods.

“For [my parents], what began as a vision became a mission, became their community,” said Daryl Derstine, David and Maxine’s son. “That community became more complete as they watched the chapel come to fruition. [Dad] marveled at the beauty within but rejoiced at the possibilities that the chapel might provide a gathering place with a purpose.”

A Lifetime of Service

Over their 61 years of marriage, David and Maxine’s lives were firmly grounded in service. From their post-war years serving in Belgium to David’s work with Hatfield Mennonite Home (now The Willows of Living Branches), David and Maxine tirelessly put their faith into practice.

David became Hatfield Mennonite Home’s director of development in 1976, prepared for the role after decades of training, pastoral experience, and service to the Mennonite community. His first challenges involved raising funds to pay for the land Dock Woods now occupies and helping the Franconia Mennonite Conference Council coordinate their development projects.

David ultimately led Dock Woods as its first executive director until 1989. Upon reaching retirement age, he stayed on until 1995 as director of marketing and fund development and manager of Dock Acres. He also served a three-year term on the board.

“Dave was a people person and related well to others,” said Edward D. Brubaker, president/CEO of Living Branches. “He recognized the worth of all individuals and saw the importance of all. That’s a piece of who he was, and something we want to be part of Living Branches today.”

Maxine was a valuable partner to David, working alongside him first in their home office in Blooming Glen and then at Dock Woods. She was the second person employed by Dock Woods and served the organization from 1981 to 1995, processing applications for Dock Village and Dock Manor, the campus’ affordable housing communities.

“Dad and Mom displayed a sincere desire to help others,” Daryl said. “They lived a dream. It is fair to say that it consumed them. They were all in – up for the challenge.”

Bringing Everyone into the Fold

It’s no coincidence that the chapel was chosen to carry David and Maxine Derstine’s legacy. As a pastor, places of worship were close to David’s heart.

What’s more, David and Maxine felt called to serve all individuals, including those in need of affordable housing. While initial plans for Dock Woods did not call for subsidized housing for low-income families, David and Maxine worked to ensure the opportunity afforded by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds was carefully examined and ultimately accepted.

“Dad valued people, so it should not come as a surprise that he embraced the Dock Woods mission that presented itself through the dreams and discernment of a group of similarly minded persons,” Daryl said.

The Derstine Chapel

For some, the work would have ended with cutting the ribbons at Dock Manor and Dock Village, the affordable housing communities at Dock Woods. But the Derstines were committed to integrating those living in these facilities into the larger Dock Woods community.

Plans called for a chapel that would physically link the main Dock Woods campus building to Dock Manor, bridging two groups with diverging needs but a common belonging in the Living Branches community. The chapel opened its doors in 2000 after a dedication ceremony that included a reading from Jeremiah 17: “Those who trust in the Lord shall be like a tree that never ceases bearing fruit.”

Decades later, the chapel now bears the name of two individuals who poured their energy, time, and love into serving the Dock Woods community. The Derstine Chapel – a beloved place of fellowship and worship – is one of many sites where David and Maxine’s decades of faithful service will bear fruit for years to come.

“My dad’s sister showed us a family letter from 1981,” Daryl said. “In one passage [my dad] wrote, ‘We have a fine team that, in itself, brightens the path and lightens the load. We see a great possibility for good, and we are pleased to be a part of it.’”