Friday, August 25, 2017

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Senior Minister's Sabbatical

A few weeks ago I wrote about the benefits of a sabbatical and thought I would add to those ideas some that I gleaned from my colleagues, particularly Rev. Dr. Petra Weldes and Rev. Dr. Edward Viljoen.

What is a sabbatical? Sabbatical leave for the Senior Minister of the Center for Spiritual Living Capistrano Valley is a planned time of rest and renewal to support future growth. Sabbatical leave follows precedents in the academic community and among a growing number of private sector groups. This "extended time" is qualitatively different from "vacation" or "days off." It is an opportunity for the individual to strategically disengage from regular normal tasks so that ministry may be viewed from a new perspective because of a planned time of rejuvenation. Sabbatical leave is an extension of the Biblical concept of a Sabbath day for renewal and also the direction that fields should be allowed to lie fallow every seventh year to regain strength and fertility. A sabbatical is paid time off during which no teaching, preaching, seminars or workshops take place inside or outside the Center by the minister.

When does the sabbatical take place and how long will it last? My sabbatical will begin September 1, 2017 and end November 30, 2017. I will be back in the pulpit in December 2017 and intend to take my usual vacation next year.

Why is there a sabbatical for the minister? The practice of a sabbatical every six years is common in many congregations. A sabbatical is an investment in the minister's vitality and longevity and in the congregations' autonomy and leadership. I have been in service here for 18 years and have never taken a sabbatical (Although several years ago I took 6 weeks off and called it a sabbatical. My colleagues lovingly informed me that that was a vacation.)

What will I do during her sabbatical? I  will maintain her position as Senior Minister but will undertake a program of spiritual reflection, study and some travel.

What will happen on Sundays during the sabbatical? Regular Sunday services and activities will continue as always. Assistant Ministers, Rev. Pattie Mercado and Rev. Judee Chapman, and guest speakers will lead services during this time. We have some amazing guest speakers lined up including my mentor, Rev. Richard Rogers, Gino Walker, Rev. Dr. Kathy Hearn, Rev. Dr. Harry Morgan Moses, and Rev. Dr. Maureen Hoyt. Some of them will also offer workshops after the Sunday service. Also stay tuned for some exciting classes and other activities.

Does my  taking a sabbatical mean I am thinking about leaving the Center for Spiritual Living? Not at all! In fact, I simply realized that I was overdue for some rest and renewal, a sabbatical is the best way to prevent burnout.

Can we contact you while you are  on sabbatical? In the case of extreme emergency I may be contacted through the Board President, Fred Mercado, or either of our Assistant Ministers, Rev. Pattie Mercado and Rev. Judee Chapman. (Of course, if you run into me at Ralphs, be sure to say hi!)

How does the congregation benefit from the sabbatical? You have the opportunity to realize you are an empowered community whose strengths include but are not limited to the Senior Minister. Guest speakers will offer different perspectives providing an exciting time of learning, experimentation and rejuvenation.