PASTOR JOE’S SABBATICAL
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS A SABBATICAL?
The word sabbatical has its roots in the Biblical concept of Sabbath (“to rest” or “to cease”). Sabbath keeping is setting aside time that God consecrates and makes holy. Sabbatical is a time for Pastor Joe to shift gears, to experience a change in perspective, to receive spiritual nourishment, and to deepen his relationship with God, himself, and his family. Sabbath includes elements of rest, disengagement, study, exploration, reflection and prayer.
Although some components of a sabbatical may sound a bit like vacation, a sabbatical is not a vacation from the church. This is an opportunity for Pastor Joe to reconnect with parts of his life that are important, such as his sense of call, his vocation, and the roots of his spiritual journey. Part of sabbatical is stepping away from the professional side of religious life and spending time focusing on a pastor’s personal life of faith. It is a time for spiritual growth, for renewal of body, mind and spirit. It is time away to reflect on the balance in a pastor’s life (emotional, financial, intellectual, physical, social spiritual and vocational), recognizing that sometimes with a pastor’s schedule and responsibilities, life does get out of balance. The intent of the sabbatical is that Pastor Joe will return to the congregation refreshed and renewed, ready to move forward into the next phase of our life together.
ARE SABBATICALS FOR CLERGY COMMON?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Metropolitan Chicago Synod encourage sabbaticals for rostered leaders every seven years of ministry. ELCA churches are paying more attention to the care and long-term support of their professional leaders; consequently, a growing number of clergy and lay rostered leaders are taking sabbaticals.
HOW LONG WILL PASTOR JOE BE GONE?
His sabbatical is three months, beginning after worship on May 27th and ending on August 24th. His first Sunday back will be August 26th.
WHAT WILL PASTOR JOE DO ON SABBATICAL?
He has planned a variety of activities (and non-activities) during his three months away, alternating invigorating experiences with periods of rest and deliberate reflection. For a week in June, he will be renewed through keynote speakers, interactive learning, worship, Bible study and service at the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Houston, TX. He has set up meetings with prominent church and community leaders in Edgebrook and the Midwest who are fully engaged within their communities with a goal on inclusivity and justice. Pastor Joe wants to address the issues that divide us and seeks to promote healing.
In July, he will take a class from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN on Rethinking Stewardship.
During August, Pastor Joe will reflect on his learnings as he develops goals and actions steps for ELC to grow in discipleship in the fall. He will spend the last two weeks of his sabbatical writing, and incorporating the books, articles, and commentaries he has read on congregational vitality and inclusion, as well as the conversations he has had, in order to share his findings with the bishop, the council and the congregation.
WHO WILL LEAD WORSHIP AND PROVIDE PASTORAL CARE NEEDS FOR THESE THREE MONTHS?
Pastor Christina Klein will lead worship, preach sermons, and preside at Holy Communion during the summer months. Those in need of pastoral care visits are encouraged to notify the church office, during regular office hours (M-F, 8am-4pm). Pastor Christina will provide pastoral services, such as pastoral care and concerns, funerals, baptisms and weddings. When Pastor Christina is away on the youth mission trips, worship and pastoral care will be covered by local ELCA pastors, and their names will be listed in the email blast and announcements the week prior.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE HAVE A PASTORAL EMERGENCY?
The church office will be open during its regular hours (M-F, 8am-4pm). The office manager, Pat Godek, and council president, Charity Haines, will make arrangements to cover funerals, weddings, baptisms, and so on if Pastor Christina is on a mission trip when the emergency occurs. There will be a pastoral on-call at all times during the three months. Please call the church office or the council president to be connected to the pastor on-call for that week.
WHO WILL ADMINISTER THE CONGREGATION IN PASTOR JOE'S ABSENCE?
Pastor Christina, the congregational president, executive committee, congregation council, and staff each have particular roles in administering the congregation during Pastor Joe’s sabbatical.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO THE CONGREGATION OF THE PASTORS SABBATICAL?
A sabbatical is investing in the future of a pastor and the congregation. There is mutual benefit when pastors are granted a sabbatical. Pastors stay vital and growing, spiritually and professionally. Pastor Joe is taking time for rest, for reading and prayer, for learning new skills, for exercise, and for some extended reflection time. Healthy pastors enhance the life and ministry of the congregations they serve. Most pastors return from sabbaticals with renewed energy and enthusiasm for ministry. They come back relaxed and refreshed, with new ideas, updated skills, and a fresh perspective on the congregation. They also have had opportunity to cultivate a deeper relationship with God, self and family.
Congregations often experience change or refreshment during the pastor’s sabbatical as well. People gain confidence in their leadership abilities. Lay leadership can be expanded in new and creative ways. New people are willing to try new things or experiment with different ways of approaching traditional ministries. The congregation has opportunity to experience new voices and see ministry from different, expansive perspectives.
WHO COVERS THE EXPENSES OF THE SABBATICAL?
Full compensation and benefits, excluding travel reimbursement, for Pastor Joe will continue through the sabbatical. Pastor Joe did apply for a grant, but unfortunately was denied any assistance in funding. Pastor Joe has some continuing education funds that will help with his travel and educational expenses. The remaining expenses for the sabbatical are covered by Pastor Joe. Pulpit supply expenses and mileage will be covered by pulpit supply line item already in the budget.
WILL PASTOR JOE BE IN CONTACT WITH THE CONGREGATION WHEN HE'S ON SABBATICAL?
No. Sabbaticals are meant to be a time away from the congregation and the routines of pastoral ministry. The congregational leadership has made arrangements for pastoral needs to be covered in his absence so he will be able to take full advantage of his time away. The congregational president and Pastor Christina will be able to reach Pastor Joe in the unexpected event that this is necessary.
HOW DO I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SABBATICALS?
Members of the Personnel Committee and the Executive Committee can share more information. Pastor Joe also plans to share his sabbatical reflections with the congregation upon his return in September.
PASTOR JOE'S SABBATICAL ITINERATY
May 28 – June 8: Rest and travel
June 9: Continuing Education with Antiracism work in Chicago, IL
June 10 – 22: Rest and travel
June 26 – July 2: ELCA National Youth Gathering in Houston, TX
July 3 – 12: Silent Retreat
July 13 – 23: Study/Interviewing pastors and community leaders
July 25 – 27: Continuing Education with Rethinking Stewardship in St. Paul, MN
July 29 – August 10: Continued meetings with community leaders and writing
August 13 – 24: Rest and travel
August 26: Worship at ELC