NEWBURYPORT — St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has received a grant of close to $49,796 to enable its rector, the Rev. Martha L. Hubbard, to participate in the 2013 National Clergy Renewal Program funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. and administered by Christian Theological Seminary.
St. Paul’s Church is one of 87 congregations across the country selected to participate in this competitive grant program. Established by the endowment in 2000, the program’s grants allow congregations to support their pastors with the gift of extended time away from their ministerial duties and responsibilities.
Ministers whose congregations are awarded the grants use their time away from the demands of daily ministry to engage in a period of reflection and renewal. The approach respects the “Sabbath time” concept, offering ministers a carefully considered respite that may include travel, study, rest immersive arts and cultural experiences, and prayer.
Through the National Clergy Renewal Program, congregations apply for grants of up to $50,000 to support a renewal program for their pastors. Collaborative in nature and implementation, the program allows congregations to partner with their ministers in developing an experience that addresses their unique renewal needs and aspirations. Recognizing that ministers’ families are subject to the stress and demands placed on pastoral leaders, the program encourages pastors to involve their families in renewal activities.
During June, July and August of 2014, Hubbard will be on sabbatical leave from St. Paul’s. The generosity of the Lilly Foundation is making it possible for her and the congregation to engage in renewal activities around the theme of “Weaving Our Threads.” The grant program centers around activities aimed at strengthening the fabric of family and community. Hubbard will have time for reading, prayer, meditation, rest and relaxation. She will also take a weaving class at a local studio.
During the later part of the summer, Hubbard and her family will trace and weave together family threads in New York, Ontario, Germany, Switzerland and France. While in France she and her family will undertake an immersion course in French.
Meanwhile the parish will be tended by the Rev. Oliver Jones, assistant rector, who will shepherd parish renewal activities focused on the theme of God as the weaver of our lives. Stories and music will be shared, and simple weaving projects will be undertaken to represent the way in which God weaves our community together into a strong fabric of shared ministry.