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            St Isidore Episcopal Church in Spring, TX has been awarded a grant of $49,650 to enable its minister to participate in the 2019 National Clergy Renewal Program. St Isidore Episcopal Church was selected to participate in this competitive grant program, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN. Established in 2000, the grant allows 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 including travel, study, rest, prayer and immersive arts and cultural experiences.

Through the National Clergy Renewal Program, congregations apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support renewal programs for their pastors. Collaborative in nature, 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. Since the National Clergy Renewal Program’s inception, more than 2,800 congregations have participated in the program, including the 150 congregations receiving grants in 2019. Texas churches received 6 Endowment grants this year.

            As part of his sabbatical requirements for study, contemplation and personal time every 7 years, the Endowment grant will support St Isidore’s minister and his family’s participation in an 6-week total immersion Spanish culture and language program in Costa Rica to enhance their ability to minister to the growing Hispanic communities in the South Montgomery County area served by St Isidore Episcopal.

            “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, Lilly 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.”

            The Rev. Dr. Robert Saler, research fellow and 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 directs the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations and a second program for congregations across the United States through its Center for Pastoral Excellence.

To find out more about St Isidore and its services, volunteer opportunities and missions, please visit Isidores.org or Facebook.com @ SaintIsidores.

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