Union Congregational United Church of Christ in St. Louis Park has received a grant of $18,000 to enable its minister, the Rev. Barbara Martin, to participate in the 2020 National Clergy Renewal Program.
Union UCC is one of 140 congregations across the United States selected to participate in this program, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
Ministers whose congregations are awarded the grants use their time away from daily ministry to engage in reflection and renewal, in recognition of the concept of “Sabbath time.”
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. Part of the grant may be used to support interim pastoral leadership as well as renewal activities within the congregation.
Union Church and Martin will explore areas of grief during a summer-time sabbatical. Personal loss of both parents for Martin and Union Church’s loss of members and the church as it used to be will be explored using professional guidance. The church recently agreed to sell some of its property to be used for affordable housing.
Martin will spend time in Fetlar, Shetland Islands, at a small retreat house to rest, grieve and renew while the congregation will be invited to evoke memories and at the same time let go of some of their expectations that things will never change, according to the church.