Early in the new year, I received approval from our Board of Deacons to take a sabbatical. A sabbatical, for those who may not know, is typically a four-month time away from pastoral duties every seven years for personal and professional enrichment.
I am very grateful for this opportunity for a couple of reasons. First, I am four years overdue for this benefit (my own doing!) and, additionally, I had some exhaustion induced health struggles this year that I need to address.
This was all set in place in January. Then the pandemic came along and threw many things into question; not least of which was planning a new approach to delivering worship to the congregation and how to carry on the day to day work of the church. These questions persist and will be particularly necessary to address in new ways at the end of this summer.
With that in mind, I have considered foregoing the sabbatical entirely. Upon reflection, however, I believe that it is still necessary and can be done with little disruption to the church. Consequently, I intend to push on with the plan.
As discussed and approved by the Board, I will be dividing my sabbatical between the summer of 2020 and the summer of 2021; taking two full months each summer. This coming summer will be for personal rest and restoration after a challenging year. This time away will be spent re-centering and re-grounding myself in my own spirituality and emotional wellbeing.
The summer of 2021, I would like to spend in a way (as yet to be determined) that will have a more personal/professional enrichment focus.
This strategy will have a minimal impact on the church; something that is of primary importance to me. The main obligation of the church will be to provide pulpit supply for each summer’s Union Service that I would typically lead. Those worship services have, of course, been cancelled for this summer so that obligation will only be for 2021.
Following the 2021 portion of this sabbatical, I will share with the congregation (either via worship or adult education classes) what I gained during my time away and how this benefits First Congregational Church.
The sabbatical time for this summer will begin on Monday, June 22nd and conclude on Tuesday, August 25th. Due to the pandemic, it remains to be seen what, exactly, I will be able to do and where, exactly, I will be able to go but I am confident that I can use this time to its fullest.
I am so very grateful to FCC for providing this benefit! It allows for a time of restoration and recommitment and is a sure sign of our mutual ministry in Christ. I constantly feel blessed to lead this congregation; not least because of the tremendous support and encouragement you all provide. It lays the groundwork for many exciting things to come!