Renewal Blog

  • Strengthening leadership

    Mar 01, 2016 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs

    Reflecting on our experience with the clergy renewal program, made possible by the Lilly Endowment, we feel very grateful for its benefits for our church and our pastor. Our congregation anticipated that Pastor Lee’s sabbatical would bring opportunities for leadership in many individual members. We also looked forward to our lead pastor’s return after a relaxing and extended time for personal renewal.

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  • Empowering for people

    Feb 03, 2016 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs

    Our primary goals for the congregation and for our pastor were in reclaiming and honoring sacred connections. We sought to strengthen our identity as a whole and diverse community of faith... St. John’s has struggled for many years to reclaim its identity and to be thought of as a vibrant and worthy community of faith. To be recognized and have received the Clergy Renewal grant was affirming and confidence building for the entire community.

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  • Plan early and communicate often

    Jan 07, 2016 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs

    Our theme for the sabbatical summer was “home again,” which was derived from Diana Butler Bass’s book The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church, as well as T.S. Eliot’s poem The Four Quartets. The congregation came home again by participating in creative worship by inviting members to interpret the sabbatical theme and lead us musically throughout the summer...

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  • Life one year after a clergy renewal grant

    Sep 04, 2015 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs

    By Dr. Fred Lewis | The invitation to consider “What will make your heart sing?” lingers. In the summer of 2014, the First Baptist Church of Indianapolis and I, as pastor, enjoyed a Sabbath time focused on spirituality, art, photography and family connections.

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  • The gift of grit and memory: Laurie Haller’s “Recess”

    Jun 03, 2015 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs

    By Robert C. Saler | Rev. Laurie Haller, who blogs at, has written a profound and stimulating memoir of her experience on a Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program leave. Recess: Rediscovering Play and Purpose is a book that will benefit anyone thinking about what it means to craft and pursue a sabbatical program in the context of parish ministry.

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