A way of blessing

Posted Jan 06, 2017 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs

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This blog post is part of a series that features guest posts from members of congregations that have received Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal grants. We wish to highlight the ways in which these grants are blessings, not only to the pastors who go on renewal leaves, but to the congregations themselves.

Our first goal was to show appreciation to our pastor for his years of service to us as a congregation. We recognize that while he occasionally took vacations during more than 30 years of his pastorate, he had never taken a long time away from us. So, in seeking the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program grant for our pastor, it was our goal to say to him: “We love you, appreciate your hard work with us, and want to see you and Sister Shirley take some time and enjoy doing what you want.” It is obvious that this goal was achieved in that they came back refreshed, renewed, and invigorated.
 
The second congregational goal was to facilitate one of our pastor’s personal dreams. On numerous occasions he had spoken to the congregation about his desire to go to Ethiopia and to understand the role that Ethiopia played in scripture. He wanted to explore for himself. Naturally, this goal was achieved since he spent better than three weeks in Ethiopia and was able to visit the temple where it is believed the Ark of the Covenant was housed. On numerous occasions he has referred to aspects of the experience, and his teaching about Ethiopia in Scripture took on a whole new meaning for us.
 
We have seen renewed vigor and enthusiasm in his preaching. Several members of the congregation have remarked that if we had known it was going to be like this we should have sent him on a renewal leave even if we had had to struggle to do so without the support of the Endowment. One of the conversions that has ensued about and among the church staff is that a renewal leave would enhance their service to the congregation. We have recommended to members of other congregations that they seek a Clergy Renewal grant as a way of blessing their pastor.
 
This piece has been adapted from the reflections of congregation members from Oasis of Hope Baptist Church, Indianapolis, IN, served by the Rev. Frank Alexander.

The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) seek to strengthen Christian congregations by providing opportunities for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. To request permission to repost this content, please contact clergyrenewal@cts.edu.

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