The Camino Year (republished from 9/2015)

Seascape BrianBeginning in August 2014, the Church Council worked with me on applying for a National Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lily Endowment. I was stunned and overjoyed to learn in August 2015 that we are to be the recipient of one of the grants. The question I answered for the grant proposal was what would make my heart sing? We proposed a grant based on the theme of pilgrimage that would allow me to:

  • Connect with my family before departure in a Seaside cottage for a week.
  • Walk the Camino de Santiago de la Compostela in Spain
  • Breathe, relax, paint while staying on the Western coast of Ireland for a month. Karen will join me in Ireland.
  • Take three weeks in England, where Karen and I met 35 years ago, to retrace our own journey of relationship and walk with Christ.

Why does the Lily Endowment fund grants? As was written in the press release announcing the grants:

Pastors play an indispensable role in guiding the work of congregations and the daily demands of leadership are unending,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “Lilly Endowment is pleased that this program enables hardworking pastors to step away briefly from their ministerial responsibilities for rest and renewal.”

Congregations are awarded grants in the National Clergy Renewal Program to honor and support renewal programs for their pastors. These congregations represent a diverse group that includes Protestant, Catholic and nondenominational churches. Congregational leaders worked with their pastor to design their renewal program and to determine how their pastor would use the grant funds to replenish, restore and renew their pastor’s ministry. Travel to varied destinations and journeys into nature are popular activities for the participating pastors. One pastor will travel to the Iona community in Scotland. Another will walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain (that’s me!). Another will engage in study of peace and reconciliation at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, and several recipients will engage in cross-country trips with their families across the United States in order to visit significant places in their lives and ministries.

“We can think of no better way to honor these faithful men and women than to help them experience personal and spiritual renewal in ways that they themselves design and find meaningful,” Coble said. “We regularly hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families and their congregations.”

For more information about the grant, please see the press release:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22646508/2015NationalCRPPressPacket.pdf

Our denomination recognizes the importance of providing formational and spiritual leave for clergy. Paragraph 351.3 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline grants such leave of up to 6 months every 6 years (of course all the details have to be worked out). I have never taken a three-month leave, nor sensed the deep importance of doing so until now. In 2001 I did experience a marvelous study trip to Israel for 5 weeks.

A portion of the grant funding provides for pastoral coverage while I am gone, and congregational activities both while I am still here and while I am gone. I am currently working with the SPRC (members of church council: Fred Cooper, Debbie Gabel and Paige Flanagan) and some of my colleagues to provide that coverage. The renewal will begin August 8th, 2016 and last until November 13th. Throughout the year we will be hosting Listening Post times for you to share into this 20th year of yours  and mine and also voice any thoughts or concerns you have regarding this time of renewal sabbatical. You may also speak with any member of church council, the SPRC or me (Pastor Brian) for more details.

Since this was written we have found all the pastoral care coverage, lined up speakers for the weeks that I will be gone, and are working with a larger team to plan what we will be doing as a community before and during this season of renewal.

About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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One Response to The Camino Year (republished from 9/2015)

  1. Pingback: Humbled – caminowalk2016

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