Grant Awarded to CCCC Church
The Franklin United Church in Franklin, VT has received a grant of $46,670 to enable its minister, Dr. Jason R. McConnell to participate in the 2016 National Clergy Renewal Program. Franklin United Church is one of 147 congregations across the United States selected to participate in this competitive grant program, funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. The program’s grants allow Christian congregations to support their pastors with the gift of extended time away from their ministerial duties and responsibilities.
Ministers whose congregations are awarded the grants use their time away from the demands of daily ministry to engage in reflection and renewal, offering ministers a carefully considered respite that may include travel, study, rest, immersive arts and cultural experiences, and prayer.
Through the National Clergy Renewal Program, congregations apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support renewal programs for their pastors. Collaborative in nature and implementation, the program allows congregations to partner with their ministers in developing experiences that addresses their unique renewal needs and aspirations.
Recognizing that ministers’ families are subject to the stress and demands placed on pastoral leaders, the program encourages pastors to involve their families in renewal activities. Congregational needs during the minister’s renewal experience also are considered. Up to $15,000 of the grant may be used to support interim pastoral leadership during the pastor’s retreat, as well as renewal activities within the congregation. Since the National Clergy Renewal Program’s inception, more than 2,300 congregations have participated in the program.
Dr. McConnell plans to be on sabbatical from May through August of 2017. In addition to other activities, he and his wife Jennifer and their four children will embark upon an adventure titled “Ecumenical Explorations” where they will attend worship services at Christian churches from various denominational backgrounds. They will also spend a month in Europe exploring the roots of the Protestant Reformation during the commemoration of its 500th anniversary. This excursion will take them to Prague, Czech Republic, multiple cities in Germany, and London and Salisbury, England. Additionally they have planned a New England Spiritual Heritage Tour, where they will visit Plymouth Plantation, Harvard University, Yale University, Salem Witch Museum, and many religious historical sites in and around Boston, MA.
“The 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 regularly hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families and their congregations.”
The Rev. Robert Saler, research fellow and director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, noted that the National Clergy Renewal Program integrates key attributes of healthy congregations, including mutual respect for the renewal needs of both ministers and the congregations they serve.
“The program provides an opportunity for congregations to express appreciation for their ministers’ service and leadership,” Saler said. “At a time when leaders are often praised for their pace of innovation and productivity, the National Clergy Renewal Program pays homage to the timeless wisdom embedded in the practice of reflection and renewal.”
Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis directs the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana congregations and a second program for congregations across the United States through its Center for Pastoral Excellence.
[Excerpt from Lilly Endowment 2016 National Clergy Renewal Program]