From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Lilly Endowment enables pastors to take renewal sabbaticals

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Mon, 2 Dec 2002 14:32:33 -0600

Dec. 2,  2002 News media contact: Linda Green7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn. 

By United Methodist News Service

A national philanthropic foundation is enabling the pastors of 12 United
Methodist churches to leave their pulpits for three months of spiritual

The United Methodist churches are among 135 congregations participating in
the 2002 National Clergy Renewal Program, funded by Indianapolis-based Lilly
Endowment. Collectively, the congregations will receive $3.5 million in
grants to provide their pastors with opportunities to pursue personal
interests and needs in ways that will re-energize them for ministry.

The pastors will tour religious and spiritual sites, as well as visit
theological centers and churches similar to theirs, in search of ways to
enhance their spiritual lives. The program also aims to give congregations a
new sense of mission and purpose as they take on additional responsibilities
in their pastors' absence.  

Most of the participating pastors will be away from their pulpits for up to
three months, and their congregations have made plans to "take up the slack,"
according to Gretchen Wolfram, communications director for Lilly Endowment.
For them, the program involves accepting new responsibilities and learning
more about their own capabilities, she said. It also provides opportunities
for congregational renewal, she added.

The 3-year-old National Clergy Renewal Program awards diverse congregations
grants of up to $30,000 each to plan a "well-thought-out, intentional program
of renewal for their pastor and themselves," Wolfram said. The congregations,
from 35 states and 15 Christian denominations and other faith traditions, may
use up to $10,000 of their grant money to pay for pastoral services in their
pastor's absence and for congregational renewal expenses.

The endowment's goal is to reinforce and build on the work of both clergy and
lay people. Most participating pastors will begin their renewal sabbaticals
in 2003 and will have until Dec. 31, 2004, to complete their spiritual

Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Los Angeles will receive $29,800 to
enable its pastor of six years, the Rev. L.L.C. Hammond, to go on renewal
leave. The 450-member congregation wanted to use the clergy renewal program
as a way to show their appreciation for Hammond's 20 consecutive years in
ordained ministry. The congregation's leaders submitted a proposal to the
foundation during "the time that I had a health challenge, and they really
wanted to do something for me," she said. "They think I work too hard."

Hammond anticipates beginning her three-month renewal next summer and
spending a month at historic Gulfside United Methodist Assembly in Waveland,
Miss., reading, praying and communing with God. She also plans to follow in
some of the apostle Paul's footsteps while spending time in Turkey.

Participating in the clergy renewal program makes her "humbled beyond words,"
she said. She encourages other pastors and congregations to consider the
Lilly Endowment's clergy renewal effort because "it is a way to honor the
faithfulness of people that could not otherwise have been possible or

"In our grant making, we hope to strengthen the efforts of today's excellent
pastors, because it is no secret that pastors who have reconnected themselves
to the passions that led them to the ministry in the first place are more
likely to lead healthy and vibrant congregations," said Craig Dykstra, the
endowment's vice president for religion.

In addition to Saint Mark, United Methodist congregations and pastors
participating in the 2002 National Clergy Renewal Program and the grants
received are:
7	Christ United Methodist Church, Fort Collins, Colo., the Rev. Edgar
Clarkson Bigler III, $27,277.
7	Eureka (Mo.) United Methodist Church, the Rev. Jeffrey A. Long,
7	First United Methodist Church, Albany, Ore., the Rev. Donna Marie
Lowman Pritchard, $14,380.
7	First United Methodist Church, Corvallis, Ore., the Rev. Herbert
Magee Scott, $24,630.
7	First United Methodist Church, Georgetown, Texas, the Rev. Timothy
Keith Bruster, $30,000.
7	Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Rev.
Brent Kent Milford, $29,168.
7	Ortega United Methodist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., the Rev. Barbara
Williams Riddle, $30,000.
7	Rocky River (Ohio) United Methodist Church, the Rev. David F. Martin,
7	St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Stevens Point, Wis., the Rev.
Graham Neville West, $30,000.
7	Trinity United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas, the Rev. Sidney G.
Hall III, $28,729.
7	Wheatland United Methodist Church, Naperville, Ill., the Rev. Scott
Nelson Field, $27,966.

The Lilly Endowment also provided four United Methodist-related colleges with
awards to implement programs encouraging students to reflect on how their
faith communities are related to their career choices, and what it means to
be "called" to lives of service. 

The foundation's theological-vocation initiative program awarded 39
four-year, church-related liberal arts colleges with grants of $76.8 million
to help prepare a new generation of leaders. The program also provides
opportunities for students to explore ministry as a career.

The United Methodist colleges received grants of nearly $2 million each after
responding to the Lilly Endowment's invitation to reflect on their particular
strengths, history and mission in designing proposals that would "fit" the
individual institution.

Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., received $2 million to launch a
Center for Vocational Reflection to encourage students, faculty, staff and
the community to reflect on their own sense of call and vocation. The
center's dual focus is to develop programs that would encourage more young
people to consider Christian ministry and that would transform the campus
culture so that the entire community would reflect on God's call in their
lives. The grant will pay for scholarships for religion majors, internships,
a lecture series, office expenses and salaries.  

A $2 million grant to Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., will enable the
school to increase opportunities for all students, faculty and staff to use
theological study, action and reflection as tools for nurturing their
vocations and career planning. The university also will use the grant to
publicly express what it means to be a church-related institution and to
incorporate that understanding into the university's daily life.

Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, will use its $2 million grant to
launch a theological exploration of vocation programs. The money will help
the university increase the number of pre-theology majors and students
interested in full-time Christian service; provide all university students
with a more intentionally structured and accessible theological informed
programs to address vocational programs in all academic areas; and pursue the
financial resources necessary for longevity of the project.

The $2 million that Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, receives will support
a three-pronged program that encourages all students to reflect seriously on

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