This past week I made the first attempt at explaining my sabbatical plan in the church newsletter. There will of course be more of them as things develop and solidify. I am finding that there is a great deal of explaining that needs to be done for a variety of reasons. One reason is simply that most people don't have jobs that take sabbaticals (which is too bad, more should). Another is that usually among professions where there are sabbaticals, people travel. While the "staybbatical" is becoming more common (this will be my second) it is still less the norm. The concept of "away but not away"naturally requires some processing. Anyway, here's the first go.
The new year has begun! We started off well at church with the baptism and communion for our first service of 2016. Soon we will be having our Annual Meeting and then it will be Lent and Easter. Of course, there is that little problem of winter to get through as well. This will be a busy and fun year at church, and I hope that you are all looking forward to it as much as I am.
One thing that will be different this year is that I will be going on sabbatical from mid-summer to late fall. I will return on the first Sunday in Advent. During that time I will be undertaking a variety of projects. When someone serves a church for a long time it is important to adapt to the constantly changing dynamic in the culture of that religious community. This is why ministers and congregations in our tradition take a break for a few months every 5 to 7 years. It enables us to step back and look at the church without having to worry about the day-to-day challenges of serving.
Of course, Eliot will continue to do what it does during my brief absence. By the time sabbatical begins, Shane will be all trained up and will have graduated with his Master of Divinity degree. He will take my place in the first few months of the fall. Since we all know him and he knows us we can expect things to move as smoothly as ever. I will be around from time to time in any case. After all, Eliot is also my family's congregation, and we don't expect to be traveling anywhere.
For me, sabbatical means thinking about what comes next at Eliot. I have already begun thinking about areas of ministry such as technology, music, and worship. And there are other topics I hope to learn more about. One question I will focus on is, how do we continue to move forward in our community life without tiring everyone out? My goal is to return refreshed and ready for the next chapter.
Of course, we have a lot of time before sabbatical begins. However, one thing that I have already begun working on is a new personal webpage and home for my weblog. If you have any interest in seeing how things are developing, feel free to check it out! It can be found at
So, Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing you in the next few weeks and months in church and elsewhere.