Dear FPC Family,
Recently, First Presbyterian Church received word that the church has been awarded a grant of $50,000.00 through Christian Theological Seminary and funded by the Lilly Endowment. The purpose of the Grant, as described by the Grantor is “…to enable the Grantee to participate in the ‘Clergy Renewal Program,’ a program designed 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.”
Pastor Eric was encouraged by the Session to pursue this opportunity, and assisted by Janie Emerson, Jennie Auble, yours truly and others (over the course of several months), the application process was completed. Eric was also encouraged by several of his Presbyterian colleagues who have participated in this program in the past. Only 25 grants are awarded each year.
So what does this mean for FPC? Pastor Eric Gale will begin a time of renewal and reflection, or Sabbath rest, in the spring of 2017 (in late May/early June) and continue through mid-September 2017. Here is a small portion of the very extensive application which states the purpose for both Pastor Eric and the congregation:
The purpose of this 3 month opportunity for Pastor Eric, “Renewing and Recapturing the Joy of Ministry” is fourfold. First; it will allow him time for the joy of rest, reflection, refreshment, and reconnection…to rest while not having everyday responsibilities? To reflect on 28 years of ministry in preparation for 5-10 more years in Noblesville? To refresh his mind and voice through travel, reading, and golf? To reconnect with his wife, Karen, children Aaron (wife Allison) and Elizabeth, with his aging parents, extended family, and spiritual mentors. A second purpose: this special time will allow Eric to experience the delight of discovery through traveling to places he has only dreamed of visiting. The third purpose; to develop a renewed voice in preparation for 5-10 more years of what is already a long-term pastorate. The fourth purpose; providing time and opportunities for Eric to pursue his passion for the game of golf.
For FPC the renewal program will open up great opportunities for continued leadership development in the church for worship, spiritual formation, administrative duties, and pastoral care. Church leaders and laity will have the opportunity to learn and apply key practices of effective churches during Pastor Eric’s absence. This time will also strengthen the joy of Christian service and fellowship without depending on the guidance of a full-time pastor.
During this time Pastor David Layman, Honorably Retired, will assume a number of the pastoral duties such as preparation for worship, preaching, and pastoral care as needed. Jim Story, member, Elder and friend to all will also help with pastoral care. Bob Moore, a member of the congregation, may also participate as pulpit supply when David is unavailable. A portion of the grant is to be used for compensation and honoraria in the pastor’s absence.
There will be further announcements and discussion about all of this as the calendar begins to firm-up. Those with any questions are welcome to contact Janie, Jennie or Larry – or Pastor Eric. We don’t have all of the answers – yet. But, we are working on them.
Thank you, and Thank God for extending this blessing upon our church, congregation and pastor.
Ron Morse, Clerk of Session Janie Emerson, Grant Committee
Larry Grabb, Worship Elder Jennie Auble, Grant Committee