Deadline for sabbatical grants is May 15

Three Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod congregations are among a total of 124 selected to receive Lilly Endowment Inc. grants in the 2005 National Clergy Renewal Program.

Each congregation will receive up to $45,000 to send its pastor on a sabbatical designed to give both the pastor and his congregation “renewed appreciation and concern for each other.”  According to the Endowment, the “ideal renewal program is an uninterrupted time of three to four months.”
Congregations that will receive the awards were chosen from nearly 500 that submitted grant applications, answering the question “What will make your [pastor’s] heart sing?”

The answers range from spending time in personal retreat to reconnecting with old friends and family, from learning a new skill to picking up one dropped years ago for “lack of time.”  This year’s recipients will travel the world to six continents, often to places “out of their comfort zones.”  Many will journey to the Middle East to walk “in the footsteps of Paul,” two will head to Ukraine, another will take a family trip to visit relatives in the South Pacific.

Among the LCMS recipients, Rev. Kenneth Kaufmann, pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cheney, Kan., plans to take part in a study tour of Israel with his family, complete a personal study of Ezekiel and Daniel, and develop a workshop for older adults that will encourage them to share their “spiritual heritage” with younger generations.

“Many people are unaware of the terrific demands upon ministers these days,” said Craig Dykstra, senior vice president for religion at the Indianapolis-based Endowment.  “They are expected to be excellent administrators, fine speakers, articulate representatives in the community, and enthusiastic fund-raisers.  They are called upon day in and day out to give individual attention to many individuals and to deal with a steady stream of crises.  This is ‘normal.’

“This hectic pace is difficult to halt, unless they have the freedom, permission, and willingness to simply get away.  From time to time, they need a more extended ‘sabbath’ that provides the time and space in which to rest, to rekindle their fire for ministry, and rediscover what led them into this vocation in the first place,” he said.  “That’s what this program is all about.”

In addition to St. Paul’s, Cheney, Kan., two other LCMS congregations are among those receiving Clergy Renewal grants this year: Divine Savior Lutheran Church, Shepherdsville, Ky., Pastor John Lehenbauer; and Lakeshore Fellowship Lutheran Church, Spring Lake, Mich., Pastor Glenn Shelton.

Over the past six years, the Endowment has awarded more than $23 million to a total of 755 congregations.

The next deadline for grant applications is May 15, for sabbaticals in 2007 and 2008.

For more information or to request a grant brochure, contact the Lilly Endowment at (317) 916-7350 or via e-mail at  Or, visit the Endowment’s Web site and click on “Religion.”  Awards will be announced in October.

The Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation founded in 1937 by the Lilly family to benefit causes in religion, education, and community development.  The Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company is one of America’s largest manufacturers of pharmaceutical products.

Posted Dec. 29, 2005

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