Upcoming Sabbatical leave

I am looking forward to beginning a ministry sabbatical in early May and am very grateful to our Session for granting this sabbatical.   Within our Presbytery’s sabbatical policy ministry sabbaticals are granted for 3 months.  A ministry sabbatical is not an extended vacation nor is it an academic sabbatical that normally involves extensive study. Rather, a ministry sabbatical is a release from the routine of the call for the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual well-being of the ministry leader. Roy Oswald, of the Alban Institute, suggests that the rapid change and complexity of congregational life and ministry raises the need for three months of sabbatical rest and renewal

The word sabbatical is drawn from Sabbath. The Hebrew word for Sabbath means to “close or rest” and is connected with the last day of Creation when God rested. (Genesis 2:3) God both models and commands Sabbath rest for his people. “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

This month we studied the Gospel of Mark where Jesus affirmed the importance of rest saying, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28) The Biblical example of Jesus’ own frequent withdrawal to a quiet place to meditate, pray and be renewed is a model. In His ministry, the constant demands of people led Jesus to step away on a regular basis.

You might also check out: Genesis 1 and 2; Exodus 20:8-11, 23:10-12; Leviticus 25:1-7 (Sabbatical Year), 24:8-25 (Year of Jubilee); Psalm 23; and Ecclesiastes 3:1

A sabbatical for a parish pastor is a time for rekindling the sense of calling, for growing in one’s knowledge, and for deepening one’s spiritual life. It is a time for renewal and refreshment for those who serve others. It is also a time for a congregation to rediscovering its own resources for leadership within the congregation and to be itself renewed as a result of the sabbatical.

Pastor Dan and our 10 serving Elders on Session are excited to lead us through this time of congregational renewal. Dan will be sharing more about this, beginning on Sunday April 2nd at our All church luncheon.  So stay tuned!

So what will Randy be doing while he is away?

Here is an excerpt from the proposal Randy gave to the Session last fall.

“Randy will begin his time away by traveling to spend time with his children and grandchildren with his wife, Carrie. Then Randy and Carrie will travel to Rome, Italy to stay with Randy’s brother who is stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Rome.  Randy and his Co-Pastor Dan Carlson spent the bulk of 2016 preaching through the Book of Romans.  So Randy is looking forward to learning and growing as he and Carrie encounter the City of Rome.  Randy is a history buff and he loves to travel and experience different cultures: “I find it relaxing because it is so different from what I do in my professional life,” he has said.

Randy and Carrie will also travel to Switzerland, Germany and Sweden, they anticipate a time of visiting Reformation history sites, reflection journaling and prayer. Randy and Carrie will worship at the All Souls Protestant Church in St. Gallen, Switzerland which is pastored by the Rev. Scotty Williams, an ECO pastor. to learn from their congregation how our closest theological partners are meeting the challenges of ministry in Post-Christian Europe, and what lessons they can teach us about our own missional context.    Randy will bracket the time in Europe by spending the remainder of his Sabbatical in the U.S. visiting four churches which are thriving in their urban/university setting.  Each of the churches will be chosen based on their commitment to multi-ethnic ministry, a strong focus on lay ministry and success in reaching the millennial generation.  By observing these congregations and learning from them, Randy will be able to share with us after his return and lead us in the next steps of ministry renewal.

At the conclusion of his Sabbatical, Randy will synthesize his thoughts and experiences to prepare for facilitated congregational meetings where we will mutually share our insights and experiences from this renewal period. Finally, he will prepare himself for re-entry into the congregation.”

I am looking forward to the remainder of 2017 as we experience this adventure together. Pray for me and for Carrie and we will hold you in our thoughts and prayers as well!