Sabbatical: A Time for Congregation and Clergy Renewal

It is the custom and practice for Episcopal Churches to offer their clergy an opportunity for sabbatical (usually 3-4 months) every 6-7 years. Sabbaticals provide a time of renewal not only for the clergy person but also for the congregation. The brief break allows the priest a chance to focus on things that strengthen his or her ministry–and provides a space for exploring, discovering, and rekindling passions for ministry. Parishes that prepare for this time apart often find it to be a time of renewal and sabbath for them as well.
Clergy serve a variety of roles in their position at the center of congregational life: preacher, teacher, spiritual guide, pastoral visitor, friend, confidant. The responsibilities are continual, and the pace and demands of parish life can be relentless, often leaving even the most dedicated pastors recognizing the need to replenish their own spiritual reservoirs to regain energy and strength for their ministry.
Life-giving experiences—strengthening relationships, renewing a sense of call, meeting and serving the neighbor in a new way, finding joy and purpose in a simplified life, traveling to new lands and unfamiliar territories, creating opportunities where members of the congregation can exercise their gifts for ministry—are common themes of a sabbatical. Profound discoveries that pastors and their congregations describe as “life-changing events” occur.
This May marks 6 years of ministry at St. John’s for our rector, the Reverend Jered Weber-Johnson. With the oversight of the vestry, Jered and a “Sabbatical Planning Team” of St. John’s parishioners have been working on a grant application that if awarded, would provide opportunities for both the clergy and congregation to dream and imagine how they might use the sabbatical to edify and inspire their ministry together in the years to come.
Join us in the Fireside Room in the coming weeks for the following discussions:
March 19, 9:00AM – Sabbatical Part I: A vision for Congregational Renewal
Parishioner the Reverend Ernie Ashcroft and members of the sabbatical planning team will present a forum on the ways in which sabbatical can deepen and inspire ministry in the congregation.Come hear about sabbatical and the benefits it can provide congregations such as ours. Bring your ideas of ways we might use that to strengthen and refresh our partnership in ministry with Jered. How can we deepen our connections to one another? Where in our life as a community do we need refreshing, inspiring, or growth?
March 26, 9:00 AM – Sabbatical Part II: A vision for Clergy Renewal
Having heard about the benefit to the congregation, and explored ideas for how we might use a grant such as this at St. John’s, come back for a vision for how Jered will be spending his time away and explore further how we might bring our ideas and Jered’s together for a sabbatical that will inspire us for the years ahead.

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