- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2021

A philanthropic organization will provide grants for 10 churches in the greater D.C. area to pay for their pastors to take sabbaticals from their congregations.

Lilly Endowment Inc., based in Indianapolis, announced Tuesday it will provide grants of up to $50,000 per church as part of its National Clergy Renewal Program.

“These grants facilitate an opportunity to celebrate pastors for their extraordinary service while making it possible for these men and women to step away from congregational demands and invest in rest and renewal,” Christopher L. Coble, the Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion, said in a statement.

The D.C.-area pastors and their churches are:

  • The Rev. Robin Razzino of the Church of St. Clement in Alexandria.
  • The Rev. Donna Marsh of National Presbyterian Church in the District.
  • The Rev. Bill Riedel of Redemption Hill Church in the District.
  • The Rev. Abby Thornton Hailey of Broadneck Baptist Church in Annapolis.
  • The Rev. Grey Maggiano of Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore.
  • The Rev. Harry McQueen of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Olney, Maryland.
  • The Rev. Gayle Annis-Forder of Linden-Linthicum United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Maryland.
  • The Rev. Victor Hailey of St. Stephen’s-Severn Parish in Crownsville, Maryland.
  • The Rev. Dina van Klaveren of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glenwood, Maryland.
  • The Rev. Dottie Yunger of Solomons United Methodist Church, in Solomons, Maryland.


The National Clergy Renewal Program is a 21-year-old effort of the endowment, whose grants are “designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians.” The philanthropic foundation was created in 1937 by pharmaceutical magnate J.K. Lilly and sons Eli and J.K. Jr.

Mr. McQueen said the grant will enable him to step away from daily responsibilities and renew his interest in photography, while allowing the congregation at St. John’s Episcopal Church to have a “supply pastor” come in to handle weekly preaching and visitation needs.

He said that “being able to afford this sort of sabbatical would not be part of a parish budget … It’s an extraordinary expense that we just couldn’t imagine being able to supplement.”

Ms. Razzino said her congregation at the Church of St. Clement will use the funding, in part, to recount their travails during the pandemic.

“We’ve been living in a COVID wilderness for the last 18 months,” she said. “And basically, we have a story to tell about how God has been active in and through our parish during this wilderness time. It’s been a difficult time, and we want to be able to tell that story.”

To do that, the congregation will “go off-site” for a planning session and then work over the summer “to do some more storytelling through art,” Ms. Razzino said.

“We’re going to bring in some lay leaders, non-clergy, to come in and work with them on biblical storytelling, but also how to tell your own story and through an artistic medium,” she added. “We’ll have lots of supplies out for people to paint or collage or sketch or draw about the story of living in the wilderness and at the time of COVID.”

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