Receiving renewal

Posted Feb 10, 2017 | Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs

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This blog post is part of a series that features guest posts from pastors who have participated in Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal grants. We wish to highlight some helpful approaches to the process which have allowed these grants to be blessings to both the pastors who go on renewal leaves and to the congregations themselves. 

Resting was not easy at first. It seemed that everything needed to be done. I had to delegate different tasks to others so I could rest. I also had to deliberately turn off my cell phone to provide separation from the congregation, denomination and other persons. I had to practice learning to say “No.”
 
Our congregation had never received a grant like this before. As a result, the congregation had to work diligently to learn and implement the program with great success. There were many things that needed to be learned. Therefore, classes were held to teach members how to plan a major outing, budget for food and other necessities, implement schedules, and research vendors. It changed the congregation in a good way. Our church staff learned to work with a large sum of money while keeping grant accounts, operating accounts, and other accounts separate. The grant account was far greater than the usual amounts that are contributed during worship. Therefore, the staff obtained valuable skills sets for this growing congregation. 
 
My family was able to have some valuable family time during the planning process, and in Jamaica we participated in morning meditation, which included prayer, journaling, activities from my daughter’s devotional book, Peace and Praise, and yoga. As a family we dipped, floated, and swam in warm, crystal clear water. We left the island with a renewed sense of family togetherness. Jamaica allowed us to not only have valuable family time but also to get to know each other again. As we mature, we change. As families grow, we grow apart. We learned so much about each other.

I was able to reserve time for reflection, meditation and sleep. Also during this time, I was able to focus on my commitment to God and the ministry which I dedicated my life to. I was able to reflect on my allegiance, loyalty, and faithfulness to God. My faith was nurtured; my spirit was renewed and motivated. 
 
While in the Holy land, we visited a church in the Garden of Gethsemane. When we approached the church, people from Africa were singing and praying. Oh my God, it felt like the heavens opened. I went into the church and bowed down praising the Lord. It felt as if all the pressure of the world was lifted off my shoulders. From that point I was able to truly find my space to rest and receive renewal from the divine healer. 
 
In Hawaii, I sat for days looking at the scenery, listening to the sounds, smelling the water, and sleeping. As we cruised we were able to see God’s creative finger in the volcano-carved mountains with colorful, carved rocks which were reflected in the sunshine. I could hear God’s voice saying, “Be still and know that I am truly God.” During meditation on the water I was able to breathe in relaxation as I recommitted myself to God and ministry.
 
This piece has been adapted from the reflections of the Rev. Dr. Lavonia K. McIntyre, pastor of St. John Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Monticello, GA.

The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) seek to strengthen Christian congregations by providing opportunities for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. To request permission to repost this content, please contact clergyrenewal@cts.edu.

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