Dear Friends: As a snowstorm pounds where I live for the second time in two weeks, Spring seems far away. Just a few days ago it was 51 degrees and I started to think about the freshness of Spring. The air smells cleaner, flowers begin to bloom, the birds return, the grass begins to green. It all seems so fresh as new life begins again after a long dormancy. The line in the hymn “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me…” played in my head that day and my prayer matched it. Wherever your faith in God is right now – whether its as vibrant as grass in late June or as dried out as that same grass can get in January, the Spirit of God wants to fall fresh on you and bring light to your living and nourishment for your soul. May you, may God’s church, feel that falling afresh of God’s Spirit. Spring IS just around the corner. — Chad
Clergy Revitalization Grants: Through generous funding from the Lilly Endowment, The RCA will award between 60-100 Clergy Revitalization Grants to RCA Ministers (including Chaplains) and RCA Commissioned Pastors. The grant will allow pastors to take paid leave (a minimum of two weeks, but three is recommended) and to follow through with a revitalization plan of their choice. The hope is that this short period of leave allows clergy the space and resources to begin a journey of health and self-care, giving renewed energy to bless the church with their gifts. The application deadline is February 28, 2022. For more information, click HERE.
Clergy Debt Relief and Retirement Kickstarter: In addition to the Clergy Revitalization Grants, RCA Ministers can also again take advantage of applying for these grants to help provide debt relief for ministers who could use assistance to get out of debt and work toward financial health or ff you’re behind in saving for retirement, BOBS will award select grantees $5,000 (or $2,500 for part-time ministers) toward their 403(b) savings if the grantee increases their savings by 1 percent of their salary. Click HERE for more information.
Pandemic Sabbath: A Virtual Experience for Clergy – In this 4-part series, 15 clergy will have the opportunity to pursue a “Pandemic Sabbath.” Blanton-Peale will lead this time of rest, renewal, and community-building to support clergy in finding a greater sense of emotional well-being. Through a 4-part virtual program, the group will engage in interactive topics such as emotional literacy, trauma-informed cared, and resilience in leadership. Pandemic Sabbath will be a 2-week virtual program during the weeks of May 7 and May 14. Each week will have two mornings (Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 AM – 12 PM) of interactive programming that includes the opportunity for community building with colleagues around topics relevant to leadership renewal. Click HERE for more information.
Fresh Expressions of Church- [Re]Mission – A Church for the Future, A Future for the Church: Register for (re)mission: A Church for the Future, A Future for the Church where you will gather with fellow sojourners to hear from seasoned practitioners and helpful thought leaders who are navigating this new terrain. United through Jesus’ blessing of peace in uncertainty, we will discover new opportunities for congregations, consider how to navigate ongoing changes, and renew our call to lead our churches to join God’s mission today. The practice of (re)misson will pave the way to the Church for the future and a future for the Church. For more information, click HERE.
Building God’s Church Together online Bible study: The newest course on Faithward Learn is a Building God’s Church Together online Bible study. Over seven self-guided sessions, you’ll journey toward healthy, Christ-centered partnership between men and women in ministry and in life outside the church. The online course, taught by Dr. Rob Dixon and Rev. April Fiet, is $20 and available on demand. Included in the course registration fee is access to a Lenten online study group, which runs March 9-April 6, 2020. Click HERE for more information.
Renovations Project: In 2019, the RCA gathered leaders from around the United States—missiologists, planters, leaders, pastors, and theologians—to share with us what they were seeing in the church, and how the church needed to pivot and adapt for the future. This diverse group of men and women, young and old, from various races and ethnicities, elevated seven themes that drive the Renovations Project, which is launching early this year. (Many of those experts came back as faculty for Renovations digital masterclasses.) Renovations helps churches to take the very best of their treasured traditions and reimagine them for flourishing ministry today and beyond; in a world constantly reshaped by the pandemic, Renovations gives a theological framework for disruption and practical tools for leadership and managing change. You can be the first to experience Renovations as part of the Renovations Cohort, a curated and personalized nine-month transformation process will build on your church’s strengths to transform your ministry. The journey will begin in early 2022. To learn more, click HERE.
Delegates to General Synod 2022 – We are still looking for a Corresponding Women Delegate and a Youth Delegate to General Synod 2022 at Central College in Pella, Iowa from June 9-14. 2022. Corresponding Delegates participate in all the discussions of General Synod and have a voice, but not a vote. If you are interested in serving our denomination in this way, or know of someone who might be, please have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Commission on Nominations is looking for committed, talented, passionate individuals to serve on RCA commissions, agencies, and boards. They may have more vacancies to fill than usual this year and the Church needs your help. If you are interested in serving our denomination, visit this link and download a profile to fill out and email back to the commission at email@example.com.
Free Christian Counseling for Pastors and Church Employees – The RCA’s Board of Benefits Services Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential Christian counseling either at at an outpatient clinic in your area or via an online telehealth session. Up to 3 sessions per issue are provided at no cost to any employee of an RCA church. Some common issues addressed are depression, anxiety, work-related problems, marital issues, family issues, substance abuse, and others. The 24 hour hotline number is (833) 244-2490. For more information click HERE.
NEWS FROM CAMP MANITOQUA Camp Manitoqua is looking to enrich the land God has provided with new trees. If you would like to donate to this project, click here.
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
What Paul Teaches Us About Coping with Trauma – A clinical psychologist, poet and professor reads the letters of Paul through a psychological lens and identifies keys to his resilience and positive religious coping — and how those strategies might help Christians today.
Traditioned Innovation – The church is stuck in a war between “We’ve always done it that way” and “The future is about leading change.” Enter “Traditional Innovation”: A way of thinking and being that holds the past and future in tension, not in opposition, is crucial to the growth and vitality of Christian institutions. This article by L. Gregory Jones explains the phrase he coined and how churches can innovate and hold on to tradition.
Learning to Underreact – Criticism happens to all of us and is often present in our churches. The worst thing we can do is overreact. Whether by proclaiming innocence or by fighting criticism with more criticism, leaders who respond too strongly only up the emotional ante. That’s why underreacting is a key skill for every leader. Learn about this skill in this article.
5 Faulty Assumptions Church Leaders Are Operating From – We all know what the pandemic has brought to our churches – besides people getting sick. These assumptions are some that we may all be making and this article can help us examine those and see if they are helpful for us.