Together We Thrive News
by Rev. Heather Ramsey-Mabrouk
Innovation, Vitality & Clergy Renewal
You are probably wondering: What do Innovation and Church Vitality have to do with Clergy Renewal? One of the keys to building and maintaining a thriving congregation is a creative, innovative and energized pastor. Creative, innovative and energized pastors are those who are grounded in their faith, well rested and frequently renewed; they are attentive to their sense of calling and maintain a strong connection to God and other sources of life-giving energy such as family and colleagues. Learn how a local church can help their pastor achieve all of that, especially in times when budgets are lean…
It is standard practice in the UCC (and most other traditions) for Pastors to have sabbatical time in their contracts. And with the challenges of the last 18 months, many pastors have either postponed their sabbatical or are in dire need of some additional time of rest and renewal. And yet….money is tight these days for many churches. The good news is that grant funding exists for Clergy Renewal! There is even a grant that provides funds for both the Pastor and the congregation!
The Lilly Endowment, the same granting organization that helps to fund the leadership development programs of Together We Thrive, also funds a National Clergy Renewal Program through Christian Theological Seminary. The Program offers funds for clergy as well as funds for their congregation to use while the Pastor is participating in renewal.
Sabbatical time or times of Clergy Renewal are important for clergy to rest, renew, learn and grow in their personal faith practices and journey; however, these times can also be life-giving to the congregation! Times of Sabbatical or Clergy Renewal are most beneficial when the Congregation also spends time learning and growing. All of this is what makes this grant program so amazing! Funds for the Pastor can be used to help cover costs for travel, classes, programs, research, etc.; Funds for the Congregation are intended to cover “expenses associated with the renewal program” but can be used for a wide range of things within that category. At the most basic level, these funds could make it possible for a congregation to hire pastoral coverage without impact to the budget. On a broader level, they could be used to bringing in special guests or programs, hire a consultant, a coach, or a theologian in residence to lead congregational learning and growth, or even be used to hire a covering pastor with some specialized skills and background that could help the congregation explore something new. The possibilities are exciting and expansive!
To find out more, follow the link to their latest press release: Article - CTS Clergy Renewal Program - Christian Theological Seminary. Or check out the home page (and informational video at the bottom of the page): Clergy Renewal - Christian Theological Seminary (cts.edu). Applications are now being received. The deadline is April 27, 2022.