Dear Covenant family,
Beginning July 1, I will begin a three-month sabbatical, a request Covenant’s Session graciously approved at the end of 2018. I have been curious about the possibility of a sabbatical for some time but the timing has not been right for me personally or professionally. With Session’s blessing, I will soon step into the generous gift of sabbatical.
The last twelve years at Covenant have been an amazingly rich time of ministry and shared life. The idea of Sabbath – time set aside for restoration – is important in scripture. In Genesis, we read of God resting in the creation story. God instructed the Israelites to observe one day a week for rest and even prescribed a one-year Sabbath for the land during a seven-year agricultural cycle. We also see in the gospels how Jesus regularly took time apart from his active ministry for prayer and renewal.
Following Jesus’ example, a clergy sabbatical is an intentional time away from usual work responsibilities for spiritual renewal and reflection. A sabbatical is a commonplace event in the career of a tenured pastor and a supported practice in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Renewal periods are not vacations but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry. The sabbatical time is not just for the pastor, but it also serves the congregation as it offers the opportunity for the congregation to grow and serve in a new way. I’m excited to see how my sabbatical will contribute toward the Covenant family growing in faith and formation.
I will be disconnected from email and away from Covenant’s campus during these three months. You will be pastored well and cared for by my amazing colleagues, Thomas and Jon, as well as our gifted church staff and Congregational Care team. I sure will miss being with you and will hold the Covenant family in prayer throughout these three months. I trust that you will do the same with me.
I will be away from Austin much of my sabbatical. The focus of my time will be fourfold:
- Rest and prayer, including meeting monthly with a spiritual director;
- Build key relationships and rejuvenate significant relationships, embracing time with family and meeting with three key mentors;
- Study and read broadly in order to invest in intellectual and spiritual development, including attending a Doctor of Ministry class on CS Lewis: Model and Mentor in Oxford, England, in September;
- Travel in order to see how God is working outside my cultural context, incorporating time with Irish missionaries and spiritual pilgrimage in Scotland.
I am deeply grateful to you for the approaching gift of a sabbatical. I know that God will lead us through this time – and beyond – into God’s good purposes for us. And I look forward to returning to Covenant renewed for our next season of life and mission together!
With you on the journey,