BridgePoint Church has received a grant to enable one of its pastors, Jeff Cagwin, to participate in the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations, funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary. Established by the Endowment in 1999, the program’s grants allow 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 renewal experience to engage in a period of reflection and renewal. The approach respects the “Sabbath time” concept, offering ministers a carefully-considered respite that may include travel, study, rest, immersive arts experiences, and prayer.
Through the program, Indiana congregations may apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support a renewal experience for their pastors. Collaborative in nature and implementation, the program allows congregations to partner with their ministers in developing an experience 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 fund interim pastoral leadership during the pastor’s retreat, as well as for renewal activities within the congregation.
Since the Endowment established the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations and the National Clergy Renewal Program for congregations in the other 49 states, more than 1,800 congregations have participated in the program, including the 22 Indiana congregations receiving grants in 2013.
BridgePoint’s renewal program, delayed by twelve months due to extenuating circumstances, now begins in earnest. The goal of the congregational program is to equip all congregants to reach out to others. Of note is a public worship service to be held in Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza on Sunday, August 23rd (11 a.m.; all are welcome).
Pastor Cagwin will visit Germany and Spain, including a 100-km hike along the “Camino de Santiago” pilgrimage trail in northwest Spain, with his wife and four young children.
“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, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “We can think of no better way to honor these hard-working, faithful men and women than to help them experience personal growth and spiritual renewal in ways that they themselves design and find meaningful. We regularly hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families and their congregations.”
Dr. Rev. Robert Saler, research fellow and director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, part of the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, noted that the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations integrates key attributes of healthy congregations, including a 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 Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations pays homage to the timeless wisdom embedded in the practice of reflection and renewal.”