What is Sabbatical/Renewal Leave? The Pastor's Perspective As Rev. Reeda is planning to be on sabbatical beginning May 1, it is important for all of us to understand what a sabbatical is and what this time means for all of us.
Burn out for clergy tends to occur after 4 to 7 years. The Sabbatical/Renewal leave for clergy is designed to allow for the self-care necessary for a minister to continue ministry for years to come without facing burn out, resentment, or a lack of motivation.
The book, Clergy Renewal, by A. Richard Bullock and Richard J. Bruesehoff, gives us a beautiful description of what the Sabbatical/Renewal Leave is all about:
A sabbatical encourages us to step off the treadmill long enough to change old habits and with "holy hope." We can be renewed in vision and hope and connect with the roots of our soul and God. A sabbatical is more than just a vacation, a chance to recharge our batteries for another year or two. David Ellingson describes sabbatical as "a time to relearn and rehearse that critical capacity to reflect, which transforms dreams of vacation to new visions of vocation." "Just like the soil," he writes, "we humans need a sabbatical, a time to lie fallow. We require a time to receive rather than give, to get input rather than give output, to carefully nurture and cultivate our lives so that the soil of our spirits might be rid of weeds and have an opportunity to receive nourishment." A sabbatical is a life- and soul-changing time - a time when perspective and the Holy Spirit can come together.
Rev. Reeda needs this time of renewal in order to lead our congregation through the next part of our journey as we renew our sense of vision and mission, seek growth, and utilize our new-found assets for ministry in the community.
Rev. Reeda's plans for this time will include travel to Southeast Asia, immersion in the culture, and study of the Buddhist and Hindu practices of meditation and blessing. Believing that other faiths can teach us, Rev. Reeda's goal is to find connections with the people, the land, and the faith practices that will strengthen her own sense of faith in the God we worship and serve.
Rev. Reeda is already preparing for the time by reading books on the history of Southeast Asia as well as books that connect the Christian faith to Buddhism and other faiths. Here is her reading list (so far): Without Buddha I Could Not be a Christian by Paul F. Knitter The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus by His Holiness the Dalai Lama Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh Hinduism and Christianity by Swami Satprakashananda The Truth Within: A History of Inwardness in Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism by Gavin Flood A Traveler's History of Southeast Asia by J. M. Barwise
What is Sabbatical/Renewal Leave? The Congregation's Perspective Bad news: The Pastor's sabbatical/renewal leave is not an excuse to skip church a few Sundays. Nor is not a time to look and say, "Well, our leader is gone. There's nothing to do here until she gets back." While we may be taking time for the entire congregation to rest during Rev. Reeda's sabbatical and have no meetings or additional activities, our worship together on Sundays will still be crucial for our growth and building of community.
Good News: Rev. Brian Wright will be our interim minister while Rev. Reeda is away. He will be our pastor, so we should look forward to worshipping with him, getting to know him better, and having him minister to us during this time.
So what is the purpose of the sabbatical for the congregation? The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) guidelines for clergy Sabbatical/Renewal Leave has this to say about the benefits of the leave for the congregation: "When a minister takes a Sabbatical/Renewal Leave, the congregation will benefit from the opportunity to reflect on its mission and ministry, experience different gifts of leadership and perhaps discover their own uniquie areas of ministry." Just as Rev. Reeda is seeking to grow in this time apart, we should all be seeking ways that we can grow as well.
These benefits often come about through the expansion of lay involvment during the leave that can bring energy and creativity to our overall vision and goals. The time apart will force us to consider how we worship and do ministry and may help us to consider new ideas for our way forward.
With the sale of the church property just prior to the leave, this will be a great time for us to find rest, give thanks for God's blessings for us, and look to our worship together as a time to listen for God's direction for our future. What to Expect from the Upcoming Sabbatical Interim: Pastor Reeda will be on Sabbatical leave from May 1 through June 11. Here are the basics that you need to know:
Worship will take place weekly as usual at 9:30am.
Rev. Brian Wright, who has preached for us in the past, will be our interim minister while Rev. Reeda is away. He will be leading in worship, staying in touch through weekly emails, and stepping in when needed to provide pastoral care.
Wednesday Bible Study, leadership meetings, and all other activities will be suspended during the interim so that we can all enjoy a sense of rest, step back from our busyness at church, and seek God's guidance for our life together moving forward.
Deacons and elders will continue their regular duties during the interim and will be briefed on any other specific responsibilities they may need to take on.
Some responsibilities that Rev. Reeda usually covers will need to be taken on by other volunteers during this time. These include weekly cleanings during the month of May and Sunday morning hospitality. A sign up sheet is posted in the foyer at church. Please consider helping with one of these tasks.