SabbaticalThe last 14 months have been personally filled with anticipation, planning, waiting, wondering, worrying, relief, profound gratitude and now, anticipation all over again. It was 14 months ago that I made a decision to apply for the 2013 National Clergy Renewal Program grant funded by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. Thirty-five years of being on-call nearly 24/7 and working most every weekend of the year, can take its toll. Walking with people through their gut-wrenching, life-altering experiences of pain and grief has a cumulative impact on even the care-givers. So I decided to take action. I’m happy to report to you that I am blessed beyond measure.

My wife Linda and I and the congregation we founded were awarded a four-month fully funded sabbatical by the Lilly Endowment. Cape Christian Fellowship is one of 87 congregations across the country selected to participate in this competitive grant program. Starting May 1, we will be taking extended time to rest, recharge, retool and reconnect.

Sabbatical2We will begin our sabbatical with five weeks of travel in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, where we will visit many places connected to our family and spiritual heritage. Our activities will range from spending a few days in a monastery to hang gliding in the Swiss Alps. After these initial weeks, we will experience a five-day Greek Isle cruise tracing the journey of the Apostle Paul, a prominent first century Christian leader.

Following the cruise, Linda and I will return to the United States, where we will spend the next 10 weeks on a road trip from Florida to my home state of Oregon and back to Florida again. Since one of the intentions of the grant is to strengthen and refresh the pastor’s family, we will be spending a week on the Oregon Coast with our three adult children, their spouses, and our four grandchildren. Our stateside activities include a week in the Canadian Rockies and a five-day workshop for me with a professional photographer in Glacier National Park in Montana to nurture my hobby—nature photography. The sabbatical starts winding down in August with a four-day marriage retreat in Colorado and then it wraps up with a reflection time in a cabin in Georgia.

Sabbatical3Lilly Endowment intends for this program to enable pastors to live for a while at a different pace and in a new environment, in Sabbath time and space,” said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. “We can think of no better way to honor these hardworking, faithful men and women than to help them experience personal growth and spiritual renewal in ways that they themselves design and find meaningful. We regularly hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families, and their congregations.”

Linda and I are anticipating growth and renewal during this upcoming time away. We feel blessed beyond all measure. I’m still working on how I might do some continued but limited blog posts while I’m away to keep you connected to our journey and experiences. These next 90 days before we leave will be filled with much preparation to make sure all the details both for our travels and for what we leave behind, are covered and taken care of. But everyday is filled with incredible thankfulness and gratitude for God’s blessings and the foresight of business leaders like the Lilly family who are using their resources to bless people like our family.


QUESTION: Have you ever taken an extended time away and what did you learn about the experience that you would be willing to pass on to us? Share it in an email to or in the comment section below. Thanks!


9 responses to Blessed Beyond Measure

  1. Pingback: Sabbatical: Vision Becomes Reality | DENNIS GINGERICH

  2. Pingback: Sabbatical: Vacation or More? | DENNIS GINGERICH

  3. Ron H on February 4, 2014 at 9:47 AM Reply

    Good for you. Looking forward to seeing some amazing pictures and hearing your stories. Maybe every day you should post one picture on FB so we can think about and pray for you each day.

  4. Janet on February 3, 2014 at 10:38 AM Reply

    As much as I love reading your blogs, I think time away should be your time away ..Just think of the material you will have to share after your trip…its your time to NOT have to worry about anything but You, Linda , family and a wonderful trip…. Ed and I are so happy you have been chosen for this amazing adventure..

  5. Arnold Gibbs on February 3, 2014 at 9:53 AM Reply

    Dennis, as one who has lived out the same life of service and the bearing of the burdens associated with the ups, downs, pitfalls, and agonizing events of so many others for whom you bear responsibility, I can attest to the need for such respite. You have earned this break (as has Linda), and I sincerely wish you the most refreshing of times. One of these days, God willing, I hope to do the same. Thanks for your service. Enjoy! And may God richly bless you and Linda.

  6. Gregge Johnson on February 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM Reply

    Hello Dennis and Linda ,this is Gregge and Barb Johnson from Elk River MN. YES it was minus – 54 below . We meet you and your wife taking pitures at Manitee Park . I had stated that all my Heros were now dead ,and that I need a new Live hero . You and your wife challenged me ,that I could be a Hero. Of course Gods mercyies are new every morning! We just were blessed with our 7th grandchild ! We are driving out to Hillsbough ,Oregon to see our family and 2 of our other grandchildren , so our paths will cross again. Extended Time Away ,,,the state parks and waterfalls in Oregon are breathtaking and drop to your knees Gods glory is amazing. I read the Proverb of the day and date ,example today is the 3d I read, and tomorrow the 4th and so on day after day ………When your in Oregon please read the 8th Proverb ,you will understand . God Bless you and Your family richly in JESUS Love .

  7. Cathy on February 3, 2014 at 8:45 AM Reply

    ALL my trips have been “extended” as Ray and I used to find that, that extra space of time provided us the necessary force to refresh. By the time we got back to the business of living otherwise, we actually felt like we’d been “gone”. Therefore, out of the loop and while catching up we had our memories to focus on when times were tough. If there were just one thing that I could suggest to you for this sabbatical, it would be to just go with the flow. Too much planning can sometimes interfere with the purpose. Some of the best trips we ever took were the ones when we maybe did nothing or traveled maybe just 40 miles in one day. But most of all enjoy each other. I so treasure the years that I had with Ray in doing just that while we traveled. At times we argued, at times we loved, at times we were bored and at times we were ecstatic to see nature unfold before our eyes whether it be through someone’s personal art or God’s artwork. Perhaps a vintage shop caught our eye. It’s all good. So go forth and be blessed my friend. God has shown you many favors and this one is super special!

  8. Greg Kappas on February 3, 2014 at 7:37 AM Reply

    Congratulations. What a wonderful gift from Yahweh and Lily. You all will steward this well. Fantastic. G

  9. Dorothy on February 3, 2014 at 6:49 AM Reply

    So happy for you both! God bless you through this time and may you both experience God’s amazing grace and peace throughout your journey. We love, admire and respect you both so very much. Can’t wait to hear all about it. 🙂

Join the conversation...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: