Minister plans sabbatical

People everywhere need time to recharge their batteries and renew their spirit – and one local minister is going to do just that.

The Rev. Peter Vial of Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church plans to participate in the National Clergy Renewal Program, thanks to $39,979 in support from The Lilly Endowment Inc.

Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church is one of 147 congregations across the county receiving support from Lilly Endowment, based in Indianapolis, to allow ministers to renew their spirit and take sabbatical. The program gives ministers time to take a break from their daily obligations and gain the fresh perspective and renewed energy that a carefully considered “Sabbath time” of travel, study, rest and prayer can provide.

Vial will focus on surveying congregation-based campus ministry in four college communities, renewing his love of photography as a tool in ministry, as well as taking part in other renewal activities including reconnecting with extended family.

He said he will visit churches doing campus-based ministries in Wooster, Ohio, Charlottesville, Va., Merryville, Tenn. and Bowling Green, Ky.

“I will spend two to three weeks at the campuses reflecting and writing,” he said.

Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church has a fairly new college ministry team, he added, and the church is striving to further develop its relationship with Davis & Elkins College.

During his time of renewal, Vial said he will take the opportunity to visit relatives.

“My brother-in-law lives right at the bottom of Rocky Mountain National Park, and I will visit with him while studying photography and learning to use Light Room 4,” Vial said. “I did lots of photography during my early ministry and hope to renew my photography passion.”

Next, Vial will travel to Counties Cork and Kerry in Ireland.

“The first 10 days in Ireland, I will be learning with award-winning landscape photographer Peter Cox,” Vial said. “After 10 days, my wife Tina will join me in Ireland, and we will travel Ireland to sightsee and take photos.”

During the time of Vial’s sabbatical, the Davis Memorial Presbyterian congregation will experience three nationally recognized preachers/speakers for weekend visits focused on special topics. There also will be a congregational retreat after the sabbatical period, which will bring the pastor and church members together again for a time of sharing. The sabbatical period will be from June 15 to Sept. 15.

“Time and time again, we hear that these renewal experiences are transformative for pastors, their families and their congregations,” said N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment’s president and CEO. “We intend 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. Many pastors and their families return with a rich store of shared memories, having had large blocks of unbroken time together, uninterrupted by the 24-hour-a-day routine of the ministry.

“The wealth of imagination unleashed by this program is truly wonderful to see,” Robbins continued. “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.”

“I am looking forward to this so I will have the spiritual energy to carry on,” Vial said. “Many congregations are putting a sabbatical into their contracts recommending one after five years of service and another following seven years. In fact, the plans for this trip were actually moved up a year. I am really looking forward to this break, and I hope to find out what makes my heart sing.”