Now in its eleventh year, the annual program enables ministers in the state to step away from their daily obligations and gain a fresh perspective and renewed energy though a period of travel, study, rest, or prayer. This year, the maximum award was $50,000 — $15,000 of which can be used for congregational activities while a pastor is on leave.
Hailing from eighteen cities and towns in fourteen counties and representing eleven denominations or traditions, the 2009 cohort includes Audrey S. Pollack, Ahavat Achim Temple Israel, West Lafayette ($50,000); Suhyoung Baik, Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, Fort Wayne ($49,997); Pamela S. Yoder, First Mennonite Church, Middlebury ($49,893); Daniel B. Gartland, St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Lafayette ($49,870); and Mark O. Fenstermacher, Trinity United Methodist Church, Elkhart ($26,030).
"We hear wonderful stories from pastors and congregations that have participated in this program in the past eleven years," said Craig Dykstra, Lilly Endowment senior vice president for religion. "The pastors tell us that their sabbaticals have given them new energy for ministry and often a fresh vision for how they can do it better. The congregations find the programs to be renewing as well. Church members usually gain new appreciation for all that their pastors do. They also discover talents and capacities for ministry among themselves that come to the fore during their pastor's absence."