EAST DERRY — There was a lot of community spirit and fellowship in the halls at First Parish Church on Palm Sunday.
The historic church hosted a live/silent auction to raise money to support the historic church facility, its missions and programs.
Bill “Dollar Bill” Burke led the auction and was part of a committee charged with raising $15,000 from the auction.
The spirit moved many people that day, Burke said, and the final auction tally was $36,000.
“There was definitely heart and spirit out there,” he said.
First Parish is Burke’s own congregation. He said he was happy to lead the committee to organize the event. With only eight weeks to plan, there was a lot of work to do, but help and donations came fast and furious.
“We had some amazing people volunteer,” he said.
Many donations came in from very generous people, Burke said, including gift baskets, trips, handmade quilts and local services.
Bidding was very generous from parishioners and community members who attended the event April 13.
It’s a testament to the faith and goodwill present at First Parish, Burke said. The church was without a pastor for three years and now is celebrating the Rev. Deborah Roof, who took over at the church in January. The church will turn 300 years old in 2019.
Burke said there was a lot of energy in the church hall that day.
“I kept looking up to the ceiling, saying ‘Lord, can we have a little more?’” Burke said. “I think we broke the record for all church auctions.”
In addition to bidding on all the items available, the auction also gave people an opportunity to bid $100 to support an in-house mission like a new table or a new stove.
“Forty-eight people raised their cards,” Burke said.
It was a good day for First Parish and a building filled with committed members and visitors who wanted to offer support. Money raised will go to help the church facility upkeep, renovations, and church programs, Burke said.
“There was very strong support in that room,” he said. “It was a miracle.”