O sing to the LORD a new song, for God has done marvelous things. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises. 

(Psalm 98:1a, 4)



Epiphany has applied for a Lilly Grant on behalf of our congregation and Pastor Joseph for the summer of 2025. 

Our vision for the renewal experience began with a belief that God has formed us as pastor and congregation with a heart that rejoices in the song which all creation sings in praise of Jesus Christ. Our renewal plan is called “A New Song,” and is born from our gratitude to God for the marvelous things God has done among us over the past decade as we look to the future together. This proposal is focused on spending time in reflection and thanksgiving and in discernment of how God is breaking forth in a new song among us as we begin a new decade together. Our shared vision for this renewal program is to live into a time of sabbatical for the whole community, both pastor and congregation. We sense that after a decade of service together, now is the right time to cultivate rest and to rediscover how our voices will join God’s song in the years to come.

The proposed sabbatical period will be from Friday, May 9th – Monday, Aug 11th, 2025, and will be intentionally structured to weave together travel, retreat, music, prayer, and connection to the gift of song that enlivens our faith and life. There will be time for making a joyful noise of gratitude to the One who has called us to and sustained us in our shared ministry. Our congregation will also have time to enjoy music in Joseph’s time away and an opportunity to celebrate with song upon his return. Joseph’s renewal period will be largely centered on musical experiences to nurture his soul and further cultivate his passion for singing, creating new music, and joining “all the earth” in its praise of God through time outdoors, specifically visiting National Parks. In August, upon Joseph’s return to Epiphany, we will host a celebration of music including performances by Pastor Joseph and many Epiphany musicians and music groups.

Miles Davis said, “It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play” that make the difference, and to his point, this renewal time is modeled on an action/reflection model with the silence and reflection being just as significant as the activities. This is an opportune time to prepare for a period of holy rest and renewal for Pastor Joseph. Recognizing the goal of “making our collective hearts sing”, this renewal opportunity is literally tailor-made for both Pastor Joseph and our congregation. Joseph is blessed with God-given talent and gifts in the musical arena, and Epiphany has a long and rich tradition of incorporating music in all facets of our faith community life.

The summer of 2025 is an ideal time for the renewal period as it relates to the congregational schedule and especially our Youth Ministries. This summer of 2024 Pastor Joseph will be leading our Youth Group to the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. This enormous event requires a year to plan, fundraise, and study. It happens every three years, so 2025 would be an off year and align well for both the pastor and our ongoing ministries. He would have ample time before taking the renewal period to plan out 2025 youth summer trips and other key ministry tasks with key clergy, staff, and volunteers. Our creative pastoral team is a blessing to this congregation. We truly look forward to their enjoying the fruits of holy rest and renewal and weaving their experiences and new energy into our daily parish life.

Pastor Phillip Martin, the senior pastor of Epiphany will be present in the congregation during Pastor Joseph’s time away. Additionally, our visitation Pastor Mark Cooper will be available for visitation and hospital calls. The celebration for leave-taking will be on Youth Sunday, May 7, which is our much-anticipated annual worship service led by our high school youth featuring senior sermons by the Class of 2025.  The youth lead music and all aspects of worship, and this year, it will also be a chance for a “special send-off” for Joseph and an opportunity for him to thank the congregation for stepping into the leadership of youth ministry. While he is away Epiphany will spend time in reflection and discovery of our congregation’s spiritual gifts during times of musical and artistic reflection on the question, “What new song is God singing in us now?”

Each summer Pastor Joseph designs a summer service trip for high school youth and assists in leading a weeklong Synodical Retreat for youth. Timothy Ministers – adult leaders who facilitate youth ministry—will lead these events in the summer of 2025. In fact, while Joseph will be able to plan and prepare the group in the time prior to renewal leave, this will be a wonderful opportunity for these adult leaders to take greater responsibility and care of the ministry.  Pastor Joseph will communicate once a month with the congregation offering reflections on sabbath, music, and ministry. The congregation, likewise, will make a video once a month to share about how they have been finding renewal and sensing God’s new song in us.