A Sabbatical for Pastor Andrew Conrad in 2016
If you were in church Sunday, then you heard Elder Bill Detwiler make this announcement. Here is the text of his announcement:
“Nine years ago, a small group of people started to meet in a house that soon became Spring Run Presbyterian Church. Now we are meeting in our own building with about 250-300 of us together. God has blessed this congregation greatly. Pastor Conrad, better known to us as Pastor Andrew, has been leading our church for every one of those years. In March 2016, Spring Run will celebrate its 10th anniversary. By then Pastor Andrew will have been in full-time ministry for 19 years. He has never had a sabbatical. The Elders have been talking about a sabbatical policy for a while and a Sabbatical was recently approved as part of our Personnel Policy. The Elders have also approved a sabbatical for Pastor Andrew during the summer of 2016.
So, you may ask, What is a Sabbatical? It is not simply vacation, although it certainly involves rest. The word sabbatical is derived from the biblical word that means “to cease”. We are instructed to cease weekly and observe the Sabbath day keeping it holy. In the Old Testament there were other times of ceasing every seven years. In the same vein, being an effective pastor involves continued spiritual growth and therefore requires time to cease for rest and renewal. It involves rediscovering spiritual disciplines of prayer, solitude, bible reading, and reflection on the vocation of a pastor. It is an opportunity to think about refocusing or retooling ministry in the church. So it involves aspects of rest, reflection, and renewal for ministry.
Why is a sabbatical a healthy practice? Because it benefits both the pastor and the church. Sabbaticals are also of great benefit to the pastor in renewing them physically, spiritually, and vocationally. Churches, Universities, and even more businesses are seeing the benefits of sabbaticals. But Sabbaticals are also healthy for the congregation. Members may find new ways to serve and utilize their spiritual gifts in serving each other. And by investing in their pastor for the long haul it promotes a healthy and stable congregation and prevents pastoral turnover due to burnout.
So, what is next? We are forming a Sabbatical Committee to help plan the details so that it benefits both Pastor Andrew and the congregation. The committee will consist of Elder Ken Edwards as the chairman), Pastor Andrew, Deacon Gary Huff, and 3-4 members of the congregation. If you have experience specifically in grant writing we could use your assistance. If you are interested in serving on this committee please talk to Ken Edwards or Pastor Andrew.”
We have had several volunteers to serve on this committee which will begin working very soon. We realize you have lots of questions and we want to be transparent and have open lines of communication with the congregation. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions, but if you have any other questions please talk to Elder Ken Edwards, Pastor Andrew, or another member of the committee.
When will the Sabbatical be? Sometime during the summer of 2016.
How long will the Sabbatical be? The church’s policy allows for a sabbatical between 2 and 4 months. Pastor Andrew would like to take a 3 month Sabbatical.
Will Pastor Andrew be paid during this time? Yes. The church will continue pay and benefits.
Does this mean Pastor Andrew is leaving the church? No. The purpose of a Sabbatical is not for pastoral transition to another job, but for rest and renewal. Sabbaticals tend to make the relationships of pastor and congregation healthier, more sustainable and more fruitful.
What will the Sabbatical Committee do? It will plan the details of what the Sabbatical will include for both Pastor Andrew and the Congregation. The sabbatical will include time simply to rest (to cease is the Biblical meaning of Sabbath), time for family renewal, and time for professional revitalization. During this time the congregation will have a sabbatical from Pastor Andrew which will allow for members and staff to explore their gifts in new ways. It will also be a time of celebration of the 10th anniversary of our church beginning. As part of this process, the committee will apply for a grant to help fund the Sabbatical. The application for the grant is due in April 2015.