Pastor Dennis will leave on June 1st for a 120-day sabbatical. “A Sankofa Journey: Looking Backward in Order to Move Forward,” is the underlying sabbatical theme chosen by Pastor Dennis. This renewal program will provide the inspirational space and uninterrupted time for Pastor Dennis to renew, refresh, relax, recharge and rekindle the spiritual, intellectual, and creative fires that smolder within him.
Come join the send-off and celebration!
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 – 7:00PM
Special Guest Speaker:
The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr.
Reception to follow in the Fellowship Hall
The Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ (CBUCC), Washington, D.C. has received a grant of $50,000 to enable one of its co-pastors, Dr. Dennis W. Wiley, to participate in the 2011 National Clergy Renewal Program funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. It is one of 158 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 12th year, the program invites Christian congregations and ministers to consider and plan a period of intentional reflection and renewal. It provides a time for ministers 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.
Each congregation is eligible to apply for a grant of up to $50,000. Up to $15,000 of that amount can be used to fulfill pastoral duties during the minister’s absence and for expenses related to the congregation’s own renewal. The 158 grants this year totaled $6.8 million.
“A Sankofa Journey: Looking Backward in Order to Move Forward,” is the underlying sabbatical theme chosen by Pastor Dennis Wiley. It is based on the image of the beautiful Sankofa bird of Ghana, depicted with its feet facing forward while its head looks back over its shoulder. This symbolizes the belief that in order to understand our present and ensure our future, we – pastor and congregation – must go back to our past. This renewal program will provide the inspirational space and uninterrupted time for Pastor Dennis to renew, refresh, relax, recharge, and rekindle the spiritual, intellectual, and creative fires that smolder within him. This unique opportunity will reap correspond-ing renewal benefits for the church family as we prepare to walk together into a new phase of our life as a progressive “beloved community.”
As a church-based pastor-scholar, Pastor Dennis will use this time away from the daily demands of prophetic pastoral leadership to engage in three primary activities that “make his heart sing” – reading, writing, and musical creativity. These activities will be enhanced by a travel itinerary that offers an alternating rhythm of leisurely reflection and personal revitalization, on the one hand, and intensive study and cultural enrichment, on the other. Covenant is blessed to have a co-pastor model of ministry in which a husband-wife team both pastor with equal authority and responsibility.
Pastor Christine Y. Wiley – who has been encouraging her co-equal pastor and husband, Pastor Dennis, to take a sabbatical for some time now – will provide pastoral leadership during the sabbatical period to continue church operations.
This year’s group includes congregations in 40 states. In the mix are congregations of many sizes – some as small as 40 members, others as large as 3,000 present at Sunday worship services. The oldest is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore. It was founded in 1692 as the parish church for Patapsco Parish, one of the original 30 parishes in colonial Maryland. Three churches – the Riverside Congregation of Alamo Heights United Methodist in Spring Branch, Texas, Downtown Presbyterian in Greenville, S.C., and United Disciples of Christ in Charleston, W.Va. – tie for the youngest. They were founded in 2004. The 2011 class brings to 1,598 the number of congregations that have received clergy renewal grants since 2000.
“We ask these congregations and ministers to consider the question, ‘What will make your heart sing?’, as they devise their plans,” said Craig Dykstra, senior vice president for religion at the Endowment. “They never fail to come up with wonderful and imaginative yet doable ways to fulfill their dreams. Their time away has freed them up to pursue personal and professional interests and needs in ways that have given them new energy for ministry – and the congregations have discovered that they too experience a refreshment of their own and a newfound sense of their own strengths.”
The Endowment’s larger goal is to bolster the good work that America’s pastors and congregations accomplish day in and day out and to reinforce and build upon important work being done on both sides of the pulpit. “In our religion grantmaking, we hope to strengthen the efforts of today’s excellent pastors because it is no secret that pastors who have reconnected themselves to the passions that led them to the ministry in the first place are more likely to lead healthy and vibrant congregations today,” Dykstra said.