Amandus J. Derr retired in June 2020 after 46 years of pastoral ministry, 23 years as senior pastor of Grace Lutheran Church and School, Teaneck, in New Jersey and 23 years as senior pastor of Saint Peter’s Church, midtown Manhattan in New York. He and his wife Carole moved to Spring, Texas in August 2020 and joined Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church immediately. They were welcomed as members at the Pentecost liturgy on May 23, 2021.
Born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Pastor Derr was baptized and confirmed at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in that city. He is a graduate of Concordia College, Bronxville, New York and Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1971, he began attending Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. Because of the actions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and its leadership, Pastor Derr joined the students who walked off the Concordia Seminary campus in February 1974 with a majority of the Concordia faculty to form Seminex (Concordia Seminary in Exile, later Christ Seminary-Seminex). Pastor Derr received a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Hebrew. The Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago granted that degree. In 1982, he received a Doctor of Ministry degree in Moslem-Christian relations from the Divinity School at Drew University.
Pastor was ordained in January 1975 and began his 23 years of service at Grace, Teaneck. During those years he served as a dean, member of the English Synod and later, East Coast Synod Council of the former AELC; co-chaired the Transition Team to form the New Jersey Synod, ELCA and became a member of that synod’s council and executive committee. From 1991 to 1997, he served as Secretary of the New Jersey Synod. From 1981 to 1997, he served as president of the Teaneck Community Chest and from 1991 to 1997, he served as chair of Teaneck’s Police Citizens Review Advisory Board.
In 1997, Pastor Derr was called to serve as senior pastor of Saint Peter’s Church, Manhattan, leading that parish through several strategic plans for the whole ministry and especially for Saint Peter’s jazz ministry. Beginning in 2012, he led Saint Peter’s through an extended process of first welcoming and in January 2020 merging, Sion Iglesia Luterana, a then-homeless Latinx congregation, into Saint Peter’s Church.
Active in the ecumenical and interfaith ministry, Pastor Derr served as secretary of the Teaneck Clergy Council in New Jersey and, upon arriving in New York City became treasurer of A Partnership of Faith in New York City, an organization of the senior clergy of the city’s largest Moslem, Christian and Jewish faith communities. He also served as a member and in 2021 chair of the board of Wartburg, a Lutheran adult care facility in Mount Vernon, New York and in 2019 was made chair emeritus with continued voice and vote.
Amandus and Carole Derr were married in 1982. They have two sons.
Amandus, an attorney, married to Ariana Atler-Derr at Christ the King Church in 2008. Their daughter, Avery are Mandy and Carole’s only grandchild and live in Spring, Texas. The Derrs moved to Spring after retirement to be near them.
Their son Jonathan lives works as a general manager in the hospitality industry in Orlando, Florida.
Pastor Derr has contributed numerous articles and sermons to a variety of professional journals and magazines including the former Lutheran Partners, Lutheran Forum, Currents in Theology and Mission, Christian Century and Sundays and Seasons and has served as presenter, chaplain, and keynote speaker at several Lutheran liturgical conferences.