To read what Pastor Martha said about FCC and the Lilly Grant in her sermons, click on the links below:

Lilly Sabbatical Grant

At our 2017 Annual Meeting, the Congregation voted unanimously to move forward and apply for this Grant, committing to participate in the worshipful work that God is calling us to do while Pastor Martha is on her sabbatical. 

For Pastor Martha’s 2019 Sabbatical, FCC is undertaking a discernment process to see if we want to apply for a Clergy Renewal Grant. This webpage is to give you information about the Grant itself, as well as our process.

This information was taken from the Lilly Endowment’s Clergy Renewal Program website

“The Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) seeks to strengthen Christian congregations by providing opportunities for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection.

Lilly Endowment's Clergy Renewal Programs are administered by the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary.

Through its religion grant making, Lilly Endowment, an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation, seeks to deepen and enrich the lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.

To this end, the National Clergy Renewal Program provides an opportunity for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. Renewal periods are not vacations but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God's life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.

In the 2018 Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program (and the 2018 Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations), eligible congregations will be able to apply for grants of up to $50,000 each to support a renewal program for their pastor. Up to $15,000 of the grant may be used for congregational expenses associated with the renewal program.”

One of the questions that the Renewal Program asks clergy is, “What will make your heart sing.” With this question in mind, Martha has been discerning, along with Chrissy Chapin, Sue Hacker, Kathy Thorsberg, Ed Prohl and Paul Warren (and more recently, Jana Peters), how God is moving through our congregation to help not only Martha’s heart to sing more than it already does, but how we, as a congregation, can also join our hearts together to more fully sing and serve God.

Some background information from Pastor Martha –

When I was at the Festival of Homilitics last May, a table caught my eye that had information about a Clergy Renewal Program that could benefit us. The Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program representative explained the program to me and, I found myself getting excited about the possibilities this could offer to our church. Believe it or not, I was more excited about the possibilities for our congregation than I was for my own self renewal and reflection time. However, the more I thought about this and the more I prayed about it, I realized that it could afford me the opportunity to do some introspective work on a part of my Judaic heritage that I talked about from the pulpit as needing some attention. I also realized that it could help me by encouraging me to more intentionally walk labyrinths – one of the more important ways that God and I connect – and spend time with family and, especially with Pat. As I have mentioned from the pulpit, Pat has supported me through seminary twice (MDiv and DMin) and has helped me when I have dealt with the sorrows of being a chaplain. As a member of FCC in her own right, she has supported all of us with her love and her care for FCC and for each one of you. She has, at times, been second in line for my attention, as I seek to serve with all of you and care for your pastoral needs and concerns. So, spending quality time with her will enhance our relationship of 37 years and enable us to continue as a couple through all of the ups and downs life brings to us.

Our process so far:

During the spring of 2017, Martha reached out to several congregation members to join with her in discerning whether or not FCC might be interested and willing to commit to a program under the Lilly Clergy Grant. As a result of those conversations, a sabbatical planning committee composed of six church members and Martha was created. The theme of our work emerged: Roots, Reflection, Renewal

Eager to engage the entire congregation, the committee invited members to attend any of three open sessions during which Martha’s sabbatical was discussed and ideas were generated for how the congregation might also use this time for renewal. In addition, word of Martha’s sabbatical was spread through our weekly newsletter, Thursdays Word, our monthly publication, The Carillon, and on our website. Martha also used one of the pastoral dialogues, which take place once a month during our Sunday worship service, to invite congregants to share their ideas about ways our church might benefit from this opportunity. The topic was also discussed during the meetings of our Board of Faith Formation and our Board of Worship and other meetings of the church.

Each of these occasions for sharing our ideas and hopes for personal and collective growth for our church and its members was met with great enthusiasm. The ideas that were generated will be shaped into a cohesive plan for church-wide reflection, renewal, and growth while Martha is away on her sabbatical and once she returns

The Committee believes that our congregation wants to go through a parallel process at the same time as our pastor. We want to do the same thing - to look at our roots, to reflect, and to renew our energies.

We need to do this because the make-up of the community we serve has changed over the decades. 110 years ago 37 families first responded to God’s call to form a congregation in Chappaqua. It was a town with a Quaker tradition. The evolution to the twenty-first century has brought us new neighbors. And with modern mobility, the size of our neighborhood has grown. We serve all the towns around Chappaqua, and there are many more people in each town. How we extend our welcome to our neighbors, how we communicate our joy in the Gospel, how we share ourselves, and how we are perceived by those who do not know us, all has to be done intentionally.   We are not just a church for descendants from Mayflower immigrants. We are not just the rainbow flag waving Open and Affirming community church. We are the faith based Christian church, and we are special. Everyone is welcome at whatever step of their faith journey. Very few understand how open we are. We need to better understand ourselves, and to better extend the open invitation.

We choose to do this in the fall. That season is the busiest time with the greatest involvement of our people. We need all of us in the effort to examine our roots. All of us need to know who we are and where we came from. It isn’t just a guest speaking arrangement with the town historian. It isn’t an examination of the nature and history of all the Christian symbols that adorn our church. It isn’t just the formation of the UCC denomination. It is the wealth of backgrounds that our participants bring. We will be better prepared to accept more diversity after we realize how much diversity we already have.

The ideas for our congregational sabbatical time that came out of our many meetings and individual conversations include:

Internal/Reaching Within:

Want our church to be a spiritual center- place where people can come together to care about one another. Open for all religions.

We are a healing Church so do something around the theme of healing

Build a labyrinth here or having someone come in with a kit to work with the congregation. (One member mentioned the symbolism of the sabbatical as a labyrinth.) We could possibly work on labyrinth while Martha is gone and then for her re-entry we could all walk the new labyrinth together. We could open the labyrinth up to the community.

More in-depth Bible study to help us grow spiritually. A good biblical exploration program is Kerygma Bible Study. Could include meditations and prayers and make a whole program.

Create an Advent Reflection Book – 25 members would each take a verse and write a brief reflection on what it means to them; this would be organized into an Advent Book with daily reflections.

Getting to know each other:

  • Build our internal community stronger; grow our spirituality
  • Get to know each other better so we are like a family, comfortable talking to each other, willing to ask and answer the call for help
  • Put together a book - writing stories of people at FCC, what they have gone through in their life, their faith journeys and how God has worked through their life, and what has brought people to FCC
  • Encourage reflection and renewal through more testimonials of what members feel the church has meant to them
  • Stewardship testimonials; share our faith journey with each other
  • Community dinners where people are encouraged to get up and speak so people get to know each other
  • Develop ways to get to know each other better, topical, basic, directed/guided way
  • Give opportunity for members to use leadership skills
  • Reestablish the photo album/directory or somewhere/how have photos of congregation (so that we can more easily be supportive to those for whom we pray)
  • Plan events for whatever theme we choose to bring us together and empower us as a group
  • Establish/define what we believe as a Church; as a group
  • Have congregation members involved in ministry while Martha is away
  • Use a few minutes each service to explain the symbolism behind the needlepoint hangings, helping us to understand our church better and giving members something to reflect on while in the sanctuary

Mission and Outreach

  • Select a clear focus for our charitable work and have multiple concrete activities and events that support that goal. Get people involved financially and actively in the area of focus. We can invite the community to participate in our events.
  • Potato Night – a social evening where dinner is a baked potato with lots of topping choices – entry fee proceeds go toward a charity of our choice – perhaps to combat hunger – one of our local food banks or Bread for the World (which is a lobbying group that advocates for diminishing hunger worldwide)
  • Reach out to Chappaqua Cares which hosts the Empty Bowls event every year to see if they would like to collaborate with us or use our facility as a venue for one of their events.
  • Find a service project like AmeriCares or Habitat for Humanity (like we used to do) that would get people of all ages involved, or some project that would get younger families involved.
  • Send food, clothes, funds to Puerto Rico and other areas beyond our local community

Lecture Series:

  • to help us be better people; teaching us to incorporate faith into our daily lives
  • to learn about other faiths; faith traditions
  • on a theme such as renewal
  • discuss the history of our town and its religious organizations with Town Historian
  • to help us find strategies to disarm hate; perhaps call it pro-love instead of anti-hate
  • to have experts talk about how to expand the church and encourage more participation; as part of our worship service or for a Second Hour

How do we make the church (and services) more appealing to existing members and potential new members?

External/Reaching Out:

Congregation to be out in the community more. Martha has done an excellent job of joining in the community and is well known in the area, but the congregation needs to do a better job of getting out in the community.

  • Reaching out to people outside of our current membership to join us in worship
  • Neighbors Link – encourage our Spanish speaking neighbors to come to the church
  • Persons with disabilities – in particular families with children with autism. Provide caregiving for special needs children so that family members can attend services. Care could be given by church volunteers or Play Care teachers who could be paid.
  • Opening the blessing of the animals to the community by having it downtown
  • Encouraging more young families to come to the church
  • Reach out to community with anti-hate/pro-love campaign; show we are welcome and open to all
  • Develop ideas on how to be a face for good in greater community
  • Connect/help with Neighbors Link and refuges settling in our area
  • Visit those in hospital; sessions on how to be comforting to those in need to be prepared/trained for hospital visits
  • Connect/expand experience with spiritual groups like AA, AL-anon, Ala-teen, and other 12 step programs active in our community. Attend open meetings to better understand those in 12 step programs
  • Find a Church in another part of the country and learn about their congregation; one that is very different than our faith community for better understanding
  • Try holding things at train station- have church service at train station. Could also hold food pantry drive and Blessing of Animals there and involve community
  • We should take advantage of Pleasantville and Chappaqua Crossing to promote services, and other things we offer
  • Chappaqua Crossing now has a Performance Arts Center that we could use to bring in speakers or other things that we could open to community
  • Keith’s concerts should be publicized so more people get to experience, and possibly do a dinner before and make it an event for the community to enjoy


Next steps:

At the Annual Meeting on January 28, the Congregation will vote on whether or not we should apply for this grant. The Congregation must be 100% in favor of and willing to participate in the programs we discern our Congregation will undertake while Pastor Martha is on her sabbatical.