“What will make your heart sing?”

– Craig Dykstra

Lilly Endowment 2012 Clergy Renewal Program information meeting coming Sept. 27

INDIANAPOLIS – The Lilly Endowment will hold an informational meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 1 to 4 p.m. at North UMC, 3808 North Meridian Street in Indianapolis. In 2012, Lilly Endowment’s Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations will again provide as many as 40 grants of up to $50,000 each to congregations in Indiana for the support of renewal programs for their pastors.

Pastors, spouses and lay leaders from congregations located in the state of Indiana that are interested in applying for a grant next year are invited to attend an informational meeting regarding this opportunity.

Register no later than Thursday, Sept. 22, at or by calling 317-916-7350. Include:

  • The name of your congregation, as well as its street address, city, ZIP code and telephone number, including area code; and
  • The names of those who will attend. Remember, we can only accommodate up to three people per congregation.

Detailed information about the Indiana Clergy Renewal Program, including the application material, is available on the Lilly Endowment website at We recommend that you download and read the 2012 application material and bring a copy with you to the meeting.

Nineteen congregations from 14 Indiana counties, including two United Methodists, have received grants to enable their ministers to participate in the 2011 Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The program – now in its 13th year – allows pastors to step back from their busy schedules and renew their spirits for challenges ahead.

The Endowment invites congregations and ministers to consider and plan a period of “intentional reflection and renewal.” It is 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 offer.

Getting away from their ordinary routines gives pastors a chance for private periods of reflection and reading. It also allows real family time together, far from the frequently unpredictable schedules at home. It is no surprise that many will head for points around the globe, from Ohio to China.

No matter where they spend this special time, they invariably return to their Indiana congregations feeling rested, refreshed and enthusiastic for the years ahead. Previous grantees describe their renewal experience as “profound” and “transforming.”

“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 ways to fulfill their dreams. Their time away frees them up to pursue personal interests and needs in ways that give them new energy for ministry — and the congregations discover while their pastors are away that they too experience refreshment and a newfound sense of their own strengths.”

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

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 19 grants this year totaled more than $891,000. The average grant amount was nearly $47,000.

Since the program began in 1999, 382 renewal grants have been awarded to Indiana congregations, including United Methodists. The renewal program will continue next year to benefit even more Indiana congregations and their pastors. Application information for the 2012 program will be available by early September at then click on “Clergy Renewal Programs for Indiana Clergy” in the left column.

United Methodist congregations and pastors selected for the 2011 Indiana Clergy Renewal program are :

  • The Rev. Mitchell Gieselman of Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Evansville, and
  • The Rev. Donna Goings of First United Methodist Church in Anderson.

According to Gieselman, his renewal leave will encompass the summer of 2012, beginning in June. He plans to spend most of his time in the United Kingdom, primarily in England, and anticipates using the University of Evansville campus at Harlaxton as his base of operations. He hopes to trace the footsteps of the Wesleys, but also to explore many places of Christian heritage, including Scotland and Rome.

He says, “This isn’t particularly innovative, as far as United Methodists are concerned, but my underlying objective is to help our congregation reclaim its distinctively Methodist identity at a time when many view mainline Christianity, and to some extent United Methodism in particular, with diminishing respect. Furthermore, I hope to enhance our understanding of our faith tradition being a global undertaking...”

He plans to return home to Aldersgate immediately after Labor Day.

Goings told Together she is taking her renewal leave next summer from May to September.

She said, “The timing is great, because my daughter is expecting her first baby in late January and that will be my first grandbaby. I will be spending a lot of time with him or her during my leave.”

Goings also plans to travel to the mountains of the west, spend some time in three national parks, visit family who live in Montana, experience a personal spiritual retreat near Colorado Springs and attend a grief facilitation skills workshop in Fort Collins, Colo. She also plans to spend two weeks at Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne in an American Sign Language immersion class.

But that’s not all. She will top off her renewal leave by traveling to China for two weeks – visiting the Great Wall and other sites of interest. She will be accompanied by a few family members.