Three Hoosier United Methodist churches

INDIANAPOLIS – Twenty-seven Indiana congregations have received grants to enable their ministers to participate in the 2010 Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The program – now in its 12th year – allows pastors to step back from their busy lives and renew their spirits for challenges ahead.

Three of the congregations and their pastors are United Methodists this year. They include:

  • Castleton United Methodist Church and Pastor C. Mac Hamon of Indianapolis,
  • Old North United Methodist Church and Pastor Michael P. Monahan of Evansville, and
  • Roberts Park United Methodist Church and Pastor Howard E. Boles of Indianapolis.

The Endowment invites congregations and ministers to consider and plan a period of “intentional reflection and renewal.” It provides a time for ministers to take a break from their daily obligations and gain the fresh perspective and renewed energy that a carefully considered “sabbath time” of travel, study, rest and prayer can provide.

A time away from their busy lives gives pastors a chance for private times of reflection and reading. It also allows real family time together, far from the hectic lives at home. Not surprising, many take the opportunity to travel. Seven pastors will enjoy Italy and five plan pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Others will visit family, missionaries and mission programs in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Georgia, Great Britain, Korea, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia.

Many see the time as a golden opportunity to get fit – and stay that way. They’re headed for fitness programs and hours of horseback riding, camping and serious hiking. One pastor and his wife, former Marines, will run in several 5K and 10K races before they run the Maui Marathon. Another pastor will fly to Los Angeles and bike back to Boston.

“We ask these congregations and ministers to consider the question, ‘What will make your heart sing?,’ as they devise their plans,” said Craig Dykstra, senior vice president for religion at the Endowment. “They never fail to come up with wonderful and imaginative yet doable ways to fulfill their dreams.”

The Endowment’s larger goal is to bolster the good work that America’s pastors and congregations accomplish day in and day out and to reinforce and build upon the important work being done on both sides of the pulpit.

“In our religion grant-making, we hope to strengthen the efforts of today’s excellent pastors, because it is no secret that pastors who have reconnected themselves to the passions that led them to the ministry in the first place are more likely to lead healthy and vibrant congregations,” Dykstra said.

Indiana congregations were invited to apply for a grant of up to $50,000. Up to $15,000 of that amount could be used to fulfill pastoral duties during the minister’s absence and for expenses related to the congregation’s own renewal. The 27 grants this year totaled $1.25 million.

These Indiana congregations represent 20 cities and towns and 18 counties. The oldest and the newest are in Indianapolis: Roberts Park United Methodist Church (1821) and Trinity Church (2003).

Since the program began in 1999, 363 renewal grants have been awarded to Indiana congregations. The renewal program will continue next year to benefit even more Indiana congregations and their pastors. Application information for the 2011 program is available at

Gretchen Wolfram serves as a communicator for the Lilly Endowment.

“…we hope to strengthen the efforts of today’s excellent pastors…”

– Craig Dykstra