In less than four months, I will embark on a much-anticipated sabbatical. While I provided the following information in our recent Annual Report, I want to include it here so that everyone has an opportunity to be informed. I would be delighted to discuss this sabbatical plan in further detail, should you wish to know more. I am deeply grateful for this purposeful time to step back from the daily demands of ministry in order to reflect and write.
2019 Sabbatical Plan
Theme: The theme of this sabbatical is one of spiritual discernment: both vocational and personal. I intend for this sabbatical to allow me to further discern God’s leading and direction in my calling as senior pastor and in my calling as a supportive spouse to Naomi. A major activity will include the writing of a personal reflection on loving and serving Naomi on her prolonged journey of Alzheimer’s Disease, while at the same time loving and serving the St. Mark community on our exciting journey of renewal and growth. Specifically, I will reflect on the unique roles that our Christian faith and eschatology play in shaping our personal and communal hopes/expectations.
Rationale: I have given this sabbatical much thought and prayer. As a pastor and a husband, I strive to find and maintain a healthy balance of these two enormous responsibilities. This time away from the rigors of daily pastoral ministry will provide the space and time to engage the Spirit in further discernment of our past, present, and future together. I also plan to read a limited number of books, but to do so with a light hand so as not to overshadow the other goals of my sabbatical, which include time away from the perpetual demands of ministry for the sake of renewal.
Plan: Spiritual discernment will be the underlying activity that provides the crucial rhythm of balance in my work and my rest, my thoughts and my prayers, my time alone and my time with others. I will provide for this discernment process by setting aside twelve weeks from my pastoral duties. I will begin by traveling west to Holden Village, a renowned Christian retreat center in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. I will also stop in Seattle to visit our oldest son, Brett, as well as numerous pastoral colleagues and friends in the Puget Sound area. I also plan to set aside time for motorcycling and camping to refresh my inner child. The final portion of my sabbatical will be spent in southwest Colorado. Throughout this time, I look forward to exploring new opportunities for worship, prayer, and faith conversations. Each of these endeavors will provide a distinctive setting to read, write my reflections, and to engage in the discernment process with trusted family, friends, and colleagues.
Benefit: I pray that the writing of my personal and theological reflections would provide confidence and hope to others in some vital way, especially to those who share in the difficult journey of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease. This sabbatical will provide an extended opportunity to discern afresh God’s grace-filled presence and leading in the personal and vocational dimensions of my life…providing renewal for the significant work of our shared ministry ahead. I also look forward to exploring new opportunities for worship and prayer, conversation, recreation and travel...as well as coveted time among dear family and friends.
Timeline: St. Mark provides twelve weeks for pastoral sabbaticals. The schedule for my sabbatical is July through September, 2019.
Walking this journey of faith with you,