The grant that is making my sabbatical experience possible comes from the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program, which takes great pains to make it clear that “pastoral renewal” is not just a goal that pastor’s can achieve on their own but is, instead, a “church family” affair. On the program website, its director states, “It is important to think of this as something that the entire congregation is a part of; it is a journey they (the pastor and church) are on together.” And then, to demonstrate the importance of this principle, not only does each step of the application process require the involvement and approval of the church, but the grant proposal can also include funding for congregational renewal while the pastor is away.
Not surprisingly, therefore, I’m deeply grateful to the Calvary Baptist church family for the support that they have provided to make our sabbatical journey possible. From the very beginning, the deacons, the congregation, and a “sabbatical team” have been deeply involved in crafting our grant proposal and in making sure that this summer’s experience provides opportunities for both me and the church to rest, reflect, and be renewed.
I’ve shared the basics of my renewal program in a previous post. But I’m just as excited about the activities in which the members of my church family will have the chance to participate this summer. In the coming months, they’ll get to hear from some excellent speakers. They’ll deepen their understanding of what it means to “keep sabbath” and to see our individual and communal stories as part of God’s Story. They’ll have opportunities to worship, to serve our community, and to have fun together (which, after the last two years of pandemic disruption, is a great gift indeed).
For those who’d like to know a little more about my church’s renewal program, I’m sharing here a copy of the “sabbatical guide” that we produced to highlight key opportunities. And just as I know my church family will be praying for me during my time away, I’ll be praying for them! Asking God to be at work in their hearts so that together we can follow Jesus into the new adventures that He has in store.