Sabbatical this Summer

by Pastor Carol McEntyre on May 16, 2023

This summer, I will be on Sabbatical.
The word sabbatical has its roots in the biblical concept of Sabbath, which means to cease or rest. Sabbatical is when a pastor is granted leave away from the everyday
responsibilities of the church to rest, reflect, and spend time with God in spiritual renewal.
In a day, a pastor can deal with a death, someone seeking pastoral care, celebrating new members, or the joy of visiting someone with a new baby. The ups and downs of pastoral work are sometimes an emotional roller coaster and can be draining. In addition, because of cell phones and social media, pastors are often contacted in the evening and on weekends. Even vacations are rarely uninterrupted. So, Sabbatical is a welcome time to slow down and truly disconnect. Plus, for pastors, preaching every week is a gift, but also stressful. Without uninterrupted and extended time to read, study and think, the spiritual and intellectual well for sermon writing can run dry. Sabbaticals give pastors time to renew their well and energy for preaching.

Since 1994, the Louisville Institute has offered grants to pastors for Sabbatical. They have also done research on the effectiveness of Sabbaticals. They found that 80% of pastors who received one of their sabbatical grants reported that their sabbatical refreshed or re-energized them to a ‘great extent.’ 94% of congregational representatives indicated they perceived their pastor to have been refreshed or re-energized after the Sabbatical. In addition, 75% of congregations reported that the sabbatical tangibly benefited the life of the church. A sabbatical benefits the longevity and health of pastors and the congregation under their care.  

My covenant with the church provides a one-month Sabbatical for every five years of service, and I received an additional month off in honor of my tenth anniversary. I will also take a couple of weeks of vacation, as I typically do in the summer, and spend a week at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship annual meeting. Therefore, my Sabbatical will begin Monday, May 29, and conclude on August 13.
During my Sabbatical, I will seek to fully disengage from my church responsibilities. But don’t worry, the church will be in good hands. Our Pastors Michael McEntyre and Brittany McDonald Null are immensely capable and will take care of the day-to-day tasks, pastoral care, and worship leadership. In addition, I have already scheduled a fabulous group of preachers to fill in on Sundays I will be away.
My sabbatical plan includes a few weeks of travel for fun and to connect with my family. I am also taking intentional time for spiritual renewal. I am spending a week alone on a silent retreat at Pacem in Terris, a beautiful Catholic Retreat Center in Minnesota. I will have an additional week off the grid, without cell phone reception or internet, when my son Nate and I go on a canoeing camping trip in the Boundary Waters.    
 •     Come to worship regularly and faithfully like you would if I were here.
 •     Find ways to work some Sabbath rest into your own life this summer. We all need time to rest, disconnect,  
               and be with God in spiritually renewing ways.
I want you to know how grateful I am for First Baptist and the gift of a sabbatical. I appreciate how well you care for your pastoral staff.

-Pastor Carol McEntyre

Tags: sabbatical, time away

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