Image credit: Adrienne Martin
Pastor Adrienne Martin has one of those bright personas that can even shine through a Zoom screen. After a few years of COVID ministry, this is no small feat! COVID fatigue, which ranges in symptoms from emotional exhaustion and lack of motivation to loneliness and depression, hits a little differently for everyone. For those working in ministry, the pandemic brought a range of stresses which were amplified by isolation. As weird as it was for us to watch sermons on screens from home, our pastors stood delivering God’s word in an empty sanctuary nearly void of response. The demand was non-stop, and the need for care and connection was intense; consequently, many pastors found themselves coping with intense burnout. How is Pastor Adrienne smiling her effervescent smile during such trying times? Two words: synod grants.
When the COVID-19 community spread numbers finally maintained their decline, Pastor Adrienne knew that she needed a sabbatical to restore her energy and replenish her spirit. The leadership at Sardis Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hickory where she serves were supportive of her needs and they began to look for a way to make it happen. Two grants from the NC Synod, one for Lifelong Learning and one for COVID Relief, made the sabbatical possible.
Seeking wholeness in mind, body, and spirit, Pastor Adrienne decided to use her time in pursuit of a fitness certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She attended classes from January to March and is currently studying for her accreditation exam. Returning to work with what she describes as a “lighter and brighter spirit,” Pastor Adrienne has discovered new healing ways of moving her body. She is thinking about ways she might use her new skills in the community.
Reflecting on the impact of COVID on our congregations, Pastor Adrienne said “To cope with the pandemic, we had to turn inward. In some ways, we fell asleep. As we awaken, we find the world disturbing and in need of the hope that the church can bring. We must ask ourselves what the best ways are to turn outward and faithfully proclaim the gospel. What we do really matters.” Pastor Adrienne is refreshed and ready for the challenge and her enthusiasm is the best kind of contagious.
Synod grants funded all the fees for enrichment programs as well as half of the salary for the interim pastor for Sardis. The synod staff, for whom Pastor Adrienne is incredibly grateful, helped her navigate the grant application process and found an interim pastor for her time away.
Assistant to the bishop, Pastor Phil Tonnesen, shares that both grants are still available for new applications. Lifelong Learning grants are offered to rostered ministers (up to $500) for any type of continuing education—priority is given to those planning sabbaticals. NC Synod rostered ministers may apply here. Questions about Lifelong Learning Grants may be directed to Phil Tonnesen. The COVID-19 Relief Funds were started to help congregations and rostered ministers with the challenges of ministry in a pandemic. NC Synod congregations may apply here. Questions about COVID-19 Relief Fund grants may be directed to Michael DeNise, director of administration and finance.
Your Mission Support giving means that rostered ministers are assisted in ways that allow them to be the whole and healthy leaders God is calling them to be. In turn, congregations led by healthy leaders are better able to live into their calling to be vital communities of Jesus. Thank you for the ways you support this critical ministry of the North Carolina Synod!