Candlewyck Baptist Church has received a $49,298 grant as part of the National Clergy Renewal Program, funded by the Lilly Endowment.
The program will allow Candlewyck minister, Dr. Allen Schuyler, to take a 100-day break from his daily work and renew his spirit for himself and his church, which will also be going on a journey of renewal while Schuyler is away.
Schuyler will spend his renewal time resting and reconnecting with family members, as well as visiting four missional churches of different denominations in California.
He also will be traveling with Rolf Hagemann, executive director of 3-D Outreach, a mission-support ministry. The two will be visiting various places in South Africa to see God's works there. Schuyler will also spend some discovery time in Charlotte to learn about the needs of Charlotteans that God may be calling him to.
Schuyler will be sharing his experiences with the church by maintaining a blog on the church Web site and by using Skype to speak to the congregation on several occasions.
When Schuyler returns to the church at the beginning of August, a church leadership retreat will be held so the church and pastor can share what they've learned.
Schuyler says his vision is to "help our church to adjust our structure to enable us to release our members to form mission groups that will engage our city and the world by serving specific needs that we discover with the good news of Jesus Christ."
"By involving our members in 'hands-on' mission work in our city, serving where God opens up doors for us, I feel that God will also open up opportunities for us to share the good news of Jesus Christ verbally with those we serve."
While Schuyler is away, Don Bouldin will be the interim pastor and will lead the church on a path of renewal of their own. The focus will be "Being Missional Christ-followers," and will include several sessions.
The first session will be "SENT," a five-week foundation-laying for being a missional church. Schuyler explains that by "missional," he means "a church that realizes that it is sent by God into the world to increase God's kingdom through the good news of Jesus Christ, adopting his posture, thinking, behaviors and practices."
The second session will be a four-week study that will help the church serve Christ in its community.
These two journeys of renewal for Candlewyck's minister and its church are exactly the aim of the Lilly Endowment.
According to Craig Dykstra, endowment senior vice president for religion: "In our religion grant-making, 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."
"We have heard wonderful stories from these pastors who already have experienced their sabbaticals," Dykstra said. "Their time away has freed them up to pursue personal interests and needs in ways that have given them new energy for ministry - and their congregations have discovered that they didn't fall apart without their minister around. Indeed, they too experienced refreshment and a new-found sense of their own strengths."