Looking Ahead-Sabbatical Plans

Pastors David and Becky have approval from the Executive Council and the Council to take a sabbatical this summer, with only one month overlapping when both pastors are on sabbatical at the same time.

What does this mean? Pastor David will be on sabbatical for June and July. Pastor Becky will be on sabbatical for July and August. A sabbatical offers benefits for both the pastors and the congregation. Work is currently underway for pastoral coverage, especially for July. More information will be shared in future newsletters where we will take a look at what a sabbatical is, the benefits for the pastors, the benefits for the congregation, and practical information.

What is a Sabbatical?

As stated by the SD Synod of the ELCA:

A Minister of Word and Sacrament (Pastor) or Minister of Word and Service (Deacon) is eligible for a sabbatical after five full years of service in the same congregation. The concept of sabbatical is grounded on the biblical idea of Sabbath rest. The example of Jesus, who frequently sought out a quiet place where he could meditate and pray, away from the constant demands of the crowds, is a strong model for a sabbatical.

What are the benefits of a sabbatical for the rostered leader?

Unlike a vacation, a sabbatical is intended for purposeful reflection and restoration.

A sabbatical provides the professional leader a measured time to step aside from congregational responsibilities in order to pursue opportunities for a renewal of vision and perspective. It creates space for creativity, rest and renewal, and may include continuing education, travel, a concentrated time to study or read, reconnection with immediate or extended family, and time away for spiritual renewal. Rested and energized pastors are likely to have longer and healthier calls in a congregation.

What are the benefits of a sabbatical for the congregation?
A sabbatical also provides the opportunity for the congregation to experience the freshness of a break in the rhythm of parish life and leadership.

Sabbaticals give congregations the opportunity to provide and experience new leadership opportunities. A sabbatical is a way for a congregation to express how much it values the Minister of Word and Sacrament or Minister of Word and Service.

How does a sabbatical work (especially with a clergy couple)?

It’s not as complicated as it may seem to have a clergy couple participate in a sabbatical. Plus, with all that has happened because of the coronavirus, time in the summer will be a time for a different pace, so that all may find refreshment. In order for Pastors Becky and David to have time together with their children and family, as well as balance their time away from the congregation, they have chosen to stagger the time of their sabbaticals. This way, there won’t be a huge “time gap” when the called pastors are both on sabbatical at the same time.

Pastor David’s sabbatical will be June and July. Pastor Becky’s sabbatical will be July and August. (There will be some time adjustments in order to be 10-weeks each.) That means, that only in July will both pastors be gone. During the month of July, there will be a variety of people leading worship and preaching. Already, this schedule is almost complete! Worship will still happen. Holy Communion will still happen on the 3rd weekend of the month. Pastoral coverage will also be available for emergencies, such as funerals. The church staff will have those contacts available for anyone who is in need. The church staff will still be working and planning. The executive council and the council are still in place. The life of the church will continue because you, the congregation, are the life of the church.

what will the pastors be doing on sabbatical?

As stated in the sabbatical policy, a sabbatical is a combination of rest, renewal and study. The hope is that a rostered leader, who is gifted with a sabbatical, does not try to cover too much within the sabbatical timeline. The study time (or continuing education time) is a way to support the rostered leader, as well as the congregation.

Pastor David will focus his study time on preaching. Pastor Becky will focus her study time on strategic planning for the church. These times will include reading appropriate resources, conversation and communication with leaders in the field, and/or continuing education. The study time is simply a portion of the sabbatical. Depending upon the availability of education opportunities, changes could be made to their study time. The pastors will also be taking time to be with their children and with family. Their children even talk about this experience as being “our sabbatical.”

It’s important to remember that there will be some things that you won’t see during the pastors’ sabbatical. Since Pastor David writes the scripts and organizes the children’s time with puppets, they will also be “on sabbatical.” Online daily devotions from the pastors will not be provided during their sabbatical times. (Remember, only in July are both pastors gone.) However, what you will experience is a combination of different people preaching and leading worship. Pastoral care coverage will be available for emergencies by contacting the office. Our hope is that you and your family will also find time for rest and renewal this summer as a way to refocus and move forward as being God’s people.


A Prayer for sabbatical

(Pastor David will be on sabbatical starting at the end of May. He will return from sabbatical in August.)

Let us pray,
Spirit of God, descend upon our hearts. Renew Pastor David for ministry through this time set aside for extended sabbath and the refreshment of a break from daily tasks and routine after 16 years of ordained ministry. Fill him with peace during this time of rest, renewal and time with family. Bring him into the excitement of new learning and direction. Grace him with your presence and keep him steadfast in faith while we are gone from one another. Be with our congregation as we see this as a time of renewal in our own lives. Guide the voices and the actions of those who will be serving us during this time. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.  

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