February 1st, 2017

This Sunday at the Annual Meeting after worship, you will be voting on my terms of call. Included this year is a three-month sabbatical, in May, June, and July, something I negotiated back in 2010 when I arrived. This will be the first sabbatical I’ve been offered during my career.

There will be a letter from the Personnel Ministry in the bulletin with a lot of information about what I’ll be up to and how the Session will cover my absence, both in the pulpit and when it comes to pastoral care. The letter quotes a few sentences from the Sabbatical Guidelines given by Presbytery of the Peaks. I thought I would offer a large chunk of that document here for those who might be interested:

The Committee on Ministry recommends to churches and other ministries that Ministers of the Word and Sacraments and full-time Christian Educators be granted a compensated Sabbatical Leave of no less than two months after the completion of six continuous years in one ministry within the Presbytery of the Peaks. 

Sabbatical Leave is an extension of the Biblical concept of renewal through the Sabbath day and Sabbath year.   In the Sabbath year, the land was allowed to lie fallow to replenish itself.  Scripture also abounds with illustrations of God’s leaders (Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, Paul, and Jesus) spending significant time in rest, solitude, and reflection for continuation of ministry.  Jesus spent 40 days in preparation for his ministry and other times away in prayer and rest.   Ministers bear the burdens, the anguish, the pain and hurt of their parishioners on a 24 hour basis.  As a result, many, if not all, experience symptoms of emotional distress, stress related illnesses, and burnout adversely affecting the minister’s personal, family, and parish life, and greatly diminishing effectiveness and personal well-being.  Sabbatical Leave is time for the minister to refresh, nourish, and replenish body, mind and soul for ministry.  It is a time of rest, travel, study, & re-creation, a time away from the responsibilities of pastoral ministry.  A renewed and refreshed pastor would be expected to bring new energy and insight to the life of the congregation.   

Sabbatical Leave is also for the congregation.  It is an opportunity for the congregation to reflect on the whole nature and meaning of ministry and the place of the congregation in that ministry; to renew and strengthen congregational lay leadership; and to continue to grow in faith. 

Needless to say I am looking forward to the chance to be refreshed, do some traveling relevant to ministry, and connect with our new granddaughter.

Peace, Catherine

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12); Psalm 112:1-9 (10); 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16); Matthew 5:13-20.