In October of 2016, toward the close of our Jubilee 150th anniversary celebration, First Church was made the recipient of a Pastoral Renewal Grant awarded by the Lilly Endowment through the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary (Indianapolis). The funds provided will be used to enable a pastoral sabbatical and congregational renewal.
Rev. David Denoon and his family will be journeying to West Africa, in order to explore the cultures and traditions there, to experience Christianity in various contexts, to come to a greater understanding of the roots of American slavery, to discover further the historical connections between America and Africa, and to relax for a while with friends.
The award is presented with the understanding that the pastor’s congregation will engage a program of renewal also, while the pastor is away. In developing the application, the grant-writing team came up with the idea of developing a process that would be in keeping both with Rev. Denoon’s sabbatical and the church’s historical commitment to social justice.
In March 2016 the Congregation voted to approve a process that would direct them into the troubled waters of racial disparity. By the time the application was being completed, discussion had focused on developing opportunities for understanding the roots of racism, how we may be unsuspectingly complicit in perpetuating it, and what actions to prevent it might actually bear fruit.
The links from this page (below) offer reports from First Church and from Pastor Dave, as we engage our programs of renewal.