NEWBURYPORT — Hope Community Church has received a grant of $46, 965 to enable its pastor, Pete Balentine, to participate in the 2012 National Clergy Renewal Program funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. It is one of 147 congregations across the country that will support their ministers in the program, which allows pastors to step back from their busy lives and renew their spirits for the benefit of their ongoing ministries.
Now in its 13th year, the program invites Christian congregations and ministers to plan a period of intentional reflection and renewal. It gives ministers time 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 provide.
Balentine’s renewal program will begin May 1 and end on Aug. 18, and involves a combination of prayer retreats, study, travel and family time. The theme of the renewal program is “return to roots” based on Colossians 2:6-7: “So then, just as you received Jesus Christ as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
The bulk of the program consists of two travel opportunities — one to Israel and the second to Hawaii. Balentine will take a three-week course, “Historical and Geographical Settings of the Bible,” based out of Jerusalem University College in Israel. The second trip will be taking his family to Hawaii where Pete served in the Navy. The Balentine family will visit Pearl Harbor, meet ministry friends, serve in a local church Vacation Bible School and experience the Asian and Hawaiian cultures.
Hope Community Church will also have the opportunity to “return to roots” and experience church renewal. Part of the grant provides for special guest speakers and extra staffing needs when Balentine is gone. The grant also covers a major history project initiative for the church. As the church has seen substantial growth and change in the past few years, it is important to understand its identity as a faithful Christian community worshipping in Newburyport since 1805. Currently, the church’s history archives are unorganized but contain a wealth of information. The Lilly grant provides funds to hire a professional church historian to catalogue and preserve the church’s archives, write a 40-page history of our church and create a DVD presentation and wall display depicting our history.