BLUE HILL, OCT. 22, 2012: St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Blue Hill has received a grant of approximately $35,000 to enable its rector, the Rev. Claudia Smith, and the church’s parishioners to participate in the 2012 National Clergy Renewal Program funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.
St. Francis is one of 147 congregations across the country that received a grant from the Endowment that will allow their pastors and congregants to step back from busy lives and renew their spirits. Ministers can 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. More than seventeen hundred congregations have participated in the program since it began in 2000, receiving grants totaling nearly $6.5 million.
“Time and time again we hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families. and their congregations,” said N. Clay Robbins, the Endowment’s president and CEO.
Rev. Smith’s plans for renewal include trekking 200 miles along the famous Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route in Spain and renewal activities at many of the ancient sacred sites in England. During this sabbatical time, members of the St. Francis congregation will engage in a variety of their own pilgrimage activities.
“When I shared my desire to spend my sabbatical on a pilgrimage, a committee from the congregation began exploring what that might mean for them as well,” said Rev. Smith. “They came up with ideas about their own journey, focusing on the transformation of lives and relationships along their path. They named the plan for their journey “Pilgrim Partners.” So, in many ways we are going on this journey together,” she added.