Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant

The following is a letter from the committee formed to explore the Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant Program to the congregation of Asbury United Methodist church in June 2016.

Dear Asbury,

Between November 2015 and February 2016, we were part of a committee exploring whether Asbury should participate in the Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant program. Although it was decided not to apply for a grant this year, Asbury benefited from this intentional focus on renewal. Inherent in the application process is the requirement that both the pastor and the congregation consider what they might do as a part of the renewal process. We held information sharing and feedback meetings, an Asbury Café (with follow up sessions), and collected comments from individuals to capture ideas for what renewal might look like for our congregation.

Many wonderful ideas were shared with us, and one of the main themes centered on becoming more connected with one another. There was a clear desire to become a community that worships with each other, knows each other, shares with each other, grows with each other, and has fun with each other. Many of the ideas were related to how we might improve in those areas.

Here are a few of the things we have done, and are doing, with all of those ideas.

First, some of the ideas were shared with the Fun Committee….yes, it helps to have fun with each other. These opportunities help us build relationships and connections between us. Each chance for interaction, regardless of the type, lets us grow a bit closer, which equips us to do the work of God, and to support each other in our spiritual growth.

Next, we are sharing the ideas with the group that is developing a congregation wide study of “The Story” for the fall. This church wide study will bring us together, and incorporating some of these ideas will enhance this congregational journey.

You may have noticed Pastor Dave has taken some ideas into his sermons and planning of worship. Some questions being asked are, “How might we become better connected during our times of worship?” and, “What are ways we can shift the culture of Asbury to insure we are connecting with each other and with every new person who walks through our doors?”

Finally, we are sharing these ideas with every group, ministry, and committee. We know that building connections and relationships is not the job of the pastor or a special committee. It is the job for all of us. Groups and committees are encouraged to look through these ideas, and generate other ideas as well. More importantly, we need to choose and implement some of these as we continue to build a culture of connection in everything we do.

Information about the Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant, the exploration process, and the full list of ideas that came out of the process is available on our website by going to Additionally, if you would like printed copies of what is posted, you can let Jennifer know and she will print them out for you. We want to thank all of you for your participation in the process. While we feel the specific work of exploring the Lilly Clergy Renewal Grant is done for now, the work of building connections within our congregation continues. We look forward to seeing what God has for us as we grow together!


Kristen Bridgeman, Gloria Curry, Sally Riddle, and Dave Blystone


The timeline and the process used by the committee to explore this opportunity may be found here.

A list of the ideas shared with the committee from the congregation may be found here.

A list of questions and concerns raised during the exploration process may be found here.

General information about the The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for 2016 may be found here.