WASHINGTON Two congregations and their pastors from the District of Columbia received a total of $81,045 from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., as part of the 2005 National Clergy Renewal Program.
Susan H. Neff Blue of St. Margaret's Parish and Paul R. Abernathy of St. Mark's Episcopal Church were among 124 pastors in 37 states and D.C. who were selected to receive grants of up to $45,000 to help fund much-needed sabbaticals.
Designed to strengthen Christian congregations by providing pastors a period of renewal and reflection, the Endowment opens the opportunity for church leaders to briefly step away from the pews and the pulpits and be refreshed for ministry.
The recipients of this years program were recently announced by the Endowment, which has invested more than $23 million for 755 congregations and their pastors for the program to date.
"I have the privilege of talking with many pastors who have received grants from the Lilly Endowment for their sabbaticals and with leaders in their congregations," said the Rev. Richard J. Bruesehoff, director for leadership support in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Division for Ministry.
"Almost without fail each expresses gratitude for the gift of this time of personal and professional renewal," said Bruesehoff, according to the ELCA News Service. "Pastors will go on to talk about their profound gratitude both to the Lilly Endowment and their own congregation, and the renewed vitality and commitment with which they return to pastoral leadership."
Nearly 500 pastors submitted proposals to the Endowment much of which spoke of a "lack of time" as they devote themselves to the hectic pace of ministry.
Selected pastors will be traveling to six continents this year, including the Middle East to walk in the footsteps of Paul, Ukraine and the South Pacific.
Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family. The Endowment introduced the National Clergy Renewal Program in 2000 to award grants to congregations that offer a program for the renewal of their pastor and, at the same time, give the congregations themselves an opportunity to better themselves as vital places of worship and mission.
For a list of the 2005 grant recipients, visit http://www.lillyendowment.org/pdf/NCRP2005Winners.pdf.