April 9, 2019
Pastor’s Pilgrimage…the cost…
September 13, 2017
Christian Theological Seminary, in its role of administering the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, has awarded 29 grants to congregations in 17 Indiana communities. The 2016 Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations allows congregations to support their pastors with the gift of extended time away from ministerial duties and responsibilities. Pastors use the respite from congregational leadership for reflection and renewal, including travel, scholarly research and immersive experiences with various cultures and traditions.
Congregations awarded the Clergy Renewal Program grants nominated their pastors to receive the honor. Pastors in the 2016 program lead Protestant and nondenominational congregations. Each recipient, in consultation with the congregation, determines how he or she will use the grant to replenish, restore and renew his or her ministry. Travel to domestic and international destinations and journeys into nature are popular activities for grant recipients. One pastor plans to travel to the Holy Land in order to meditate on the life and journeys of Christ and the early church. Another pastor with an interest in global climate change is traveling in order to immerse himself in various extreme climates across the United States and Canada as a way of sparking his creativity in addressing creation care. The details of Northminster’s grant for my sabbatical will be in the next blog post.
In addition to travel as a form of renewal, some pastors will use their time away from congregational leadership to engage in new spiritual disciplines, focus on time with loved ones, and study topics that renew their excitement for preaching and congregational leadership.
Since Lilly Endowment introduced the Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations and National Clergy Renewal Program grants in 1999 and 2000, more than 2,300 congregations across the nation have participated in the programs. In the 2016 round of funding, Indiana congregations received grants totaling more than $1.3 million. The grants recognize the tremendous amount of energy, time and leadership that pastors invest in their congregations.
“Lilly Endowment intends for this program to enable pastors to live for a while at a different pace and in a new environment, in Sabbath time and space,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We can think of no better way to honor these hardworking, faithful men and women than to help them experience personal growth and spiritual renewal in ways that they themselves design and find meaningful. We regularly hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families and their congregations.”