DOWNEY - Rev. Candie Blankman of First Presbyterian Church of Downey has been awarded a grant to go on sabbatical "for a sustained period of reflection and renewal apart from the weekly rhythms and tasks of their work."The Louisville Institute issued the grant, which awarded 39 total for eight or 12 weeks of study with a stipend of $10,000 and $15,000, respectively. Blankman will leave for sabbatical Feb. 15 and return May 15. As part of a church-wide time of exploring personal stories, Blankman will explore her father's story as a prisoner of war in the Philippine Islands and Japan and how that story has shaped her as a person and as a minister. Blankman will retrace her father's footsteps when she walks part of the route of the Bataan Death March that her father survived. She will also visit two of the POW camps where he was interned and one of the places he was on work detail. Though her father was not there, Blankman will tour Corregidor Island as it had significant impact on the Battle for Bataan. From there, Blankman will travel to Japan where she will interview eyewitnesses of the forced labor of American and Allied soldiers in Japan. After surviving one of the Hellships that brought Bataan POWs to Japan, Blankman's father worked in a Mitsubishi copper mine for 1 1/2 years on the northern end of the main island of Japan. During that time he was interned at a camp called Sendal No. 6, or otherwise known as Hanawa. Blankman will visit where this mine and camp were located. Blankman's father, Kenneth Earl Davis, died in 2006 after suffering for several years from Alzheimer's disease. But in 1988, Blankman began interviewing her father and recorded his stories about World War II and as a prisoner of war. In 1993, she took her father to Boston to visit another Bataan survivor that he had not seen since their time in the Philippines. Blankman will use her sabbatical time to put together her father's story, not only in writing, but also in drawings and paintings. Her father was a man of devout Christian faith and his experience as a prisoner of war shaped their family life. While Blankman is gone, the church's congregation "will be exploring their own personal and corporate stories and sharing them with another," the church said in a statement. When Blankman returns, a "great celebration and display of all that she and the congregation have learned" is planned. The community will be invited, church officials said. "Louisville Institute believes that such time apart will strengthen and deepen the habits of heart and mind so crucial to the faithful practice of pastoral leadership - habits that all too often become marginalized by the daily and weekly demands of ministry and congregational life," the Louisville Seminary-based institute said in a statement. "Such reflective attention to personal and vocational renewal will equip pastors for more deeply fruitful, faithful and fulfilling ministry."
********** Published: February 5, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 42