Pastor Clare with the assistance of several congregants developed a grant application that would allow Pastor Clare to pursue studies during her sabbatical and aid VGUCC during the sabbatical time. The grant was awarded to VGUCC and it will enable Pastor Clare to participate in the 2020 National Clergy Renewal Program. VGUCC is one of only 140 congregations from many different denominations, not just UCC churches, across the United States selected to participate in this competitive grant program, which is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
The program’s grant allows our congregation to support Pastor Clare with the gift of extended time away from her ministerial duties and responsibilities while she continues to pursue her passion for racial justice. The grant will enable:
- Pastor Clare to seek to strike a balance between the work and the culture, books, and the sacred land. Visiting those places in this country which are directly connected to the history and struggle of slavery and racism involves seeking to spiritually enhance her racial justice journey by experiencing the sacred geography of this history. She anticipates a new understanding of the sacred history of Maryland, while at the same time finding respite and renewal in a place she holds dear. Her pilgrimage is deeply connected to her personal isolation from her own family’s history. Intensive studies on racial justice begin with an invitation into her own ancestry with the intention of recognizing her roots, her heritage, and her common thread with all peoples. She is hoping this time of renewal helps her connect with her own roots and heritage in ways that have been unavailable. She trusts that connecting with her ancestors will only further her understanding of those whose history has been stolen and the generational grief that comes from that loss.
- Our congregation to be provided multiple opportunities to enhance our racial justice commitments and relationships, through guest preachers from historically black churches in Colorado Springs, planned programming, and a contemplative retreat. In this way, we will encounter our own transformative relationships as we are challenged to move from the learning about racism to the relational and restorative dimension of racial justice work. This plan encourages and supports our vision of action and contemplation. We will all further our racial literacy and more importantly become more authentically and relationally connected with communities of color in our city.
The Rev. Dr. Robert Saler, research fellow and director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, noted that the National Clergy Renewal Program integrates key attributes of healthy congregations, including a mutual respect for the renewal needs of both ministers and the congregations they serve. “The program provides an opportunity for congregations to express appreciation for their ministers’ service and leadership,” Saler said. “At a time when leaders are often praised for their pace of innovation and productivity, the National Clergy Renewal Program pays homage to the timeless wisdom embedded in the practice of reflection and renewal.”