For Immediate Release
November 15, 2023

Calvary Episcopal Church has received a grant of $51,188.00 to enable its minister, the Reverend Allison English, to participate in the 2023 National Clergy Renewal Program. Calvary is one of 177 congregations across the United States selected to participate in this competitive grant program, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. Established by the Endowment in 2000, 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. The approach respects the “Sabbath time” concept, offering ministers a carefully considered respite that may include travel, study, rest, prayer and immersive arts and cultural experiences.

Through the National Clergy Renewal Program, congregations apply for grants of up to $60,000 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 address 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 $25,000 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 3,527 congregations have participated in the program, including the 177 congregations receiving grants in 2023.

Members at Calvary will intentionally explore their “Total Ministry” as baptized members of Calvary Church using tools that identify and uphold their spiritual gifts throughout 2024. The congregation will bless and celebrate this time of renewal both for the rector and the parish with a celebration and sending-forth ceremony on the Second Sunday of Easter 2024. The entire congregation will receive a complimentary copy of A Sacred Voice is Calling: Personal Vocation and Social Conscience by John Neafsey. Members will be invited to engage a sermon series and book study on vocation and calling in our everyday lives as Christian people.

During the three-month renewal leave, English will revisit her vocational call to ministry, which began at the Eastern terminus of Route 66 in Chicago and came to fruition at the Western terminus of Route 66 in Santa Monica, CA. Over the course of these weeks, she and her family will reconnect with key discernment partners in both Los Angeles and Chicago and along the course of the entirety of Route 66.

“Pastors play an important role in nourishing the spiritual lives of individuals and in guiding the work of the Christian congregations they serve,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Through these grants, we seek to honor pastors for their extraordinary service and enable them to engage in a brief period of rest and renewal. We have learned that such experiences invigorate the leadership of pastors and bring new vitality to their congregations as well.”

Dr. Robert Saler, director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, noted that the National Clergy Renewal Program 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 National Clergy Renewal Program pays homage to the timeless wisdom embedded in the practice of reflection and renewal.”

Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis also directs the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations through its Center for Pastoral Excellence.

Note to congregations: Please remember, when you talk or write about this program, that the correct name for the funding organization is Lilly Endowment Inc. or, on second reference, the Endowment