I first formally announced my sabbatical time to this congregation in my August newsletter article. I think some people wonder if I am ever leaving … or if maybe I left and already came back! This time away has been discussed with various leadership teams since early 2015. There has been considerable planning and it is now time to go!
Sabbatical time is a wonderful gift. It is a time to renew both as a person and in my ministry. For me, and maybe you as well, it marks an end to the time of transition. When I return, Kirsten will be well established as your pastor having been here nearly 7 months at that point. She and I will be ready to plan our roles for our shared ministry. Things will likely be a bit different as we move into our future. My sabbatical time helps me take a break so I am ready to embrace the future. It helps you let go of the past and shift into a new phase of our ministry together. As one wise congregation said to their pastor when he returned; “We missed you, but we discovered we didn’t need you.” And that is an ideal outcome.
Your staff, council and I have anticipated these next months and a plan is in place to cover all tasks during the next few months. Some of the ministry I usually do will be handled by other staff members, some will be handled by leaders in this congregation, and some things will be paused until the spring. There may be things we haven’t anticipated that arise, but Pastor Kirsten is capable and will easily handle it! This is part of the gift of Sabbatical. You will grow to appreciate her, depend on her, call upon her and the rest of the staff. Talk to Pastor Kirsten, talk to Mollie and Shannon. Pastor Kirsten will have a team surrounding her to support her, Shannon and Mollie will be given a few extra hours to handle the increased work, leaders of this congregation are ready to step up!
While I will not be available until after Easter, I will continue to hold you in prayer. My time away will be a chance to spend more time listening to the Holy Spirit, and some of that listening will be lifting each of you up, individually, to God in prayer. I ask that you do the same for me while I am gone: pray for my rest, growth in spirituality, learning, and of course some fun!
When I was in Tanzania in 2009 I wrote a daily blog. This congregation knew more about my daily life than ever before or since! This time the circumstances are different. I won’t be looking at my emails and I am not keeping a blog. I will still receive the prayer chain and will pray for any special needs that occur. Our connection will be through the Holy Spirit. (I will know if we have 20 people finished with their Bible Scholar and what color hair I should return with … maybe purple? But there is also one red Sunday!
We have a few more days for questions, more planning, and final details – I leave town early on Christmas morning. And then I will see you after Easter! This time will be a great blessing for both me and for this congregation. Let us celebrate this gift!
Blessings to you!
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