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FAQ’s for Grace Renewal Project (sabbatical)

February 28, 2019

What is a Sabbatical?

  • It is an extended time away from all parish duties to renew, reconnect, and refresh.
  • It is very common for priests to have a sabbatical after having served at least 7 years in ordained ministry and having served at least 5 years in the congregation granting the sabbatical.
  • In granting a sabbatical, the congregation is insisting that their priest, stop, rest & keep the Sabbath holy.
  • The Diocese of West Texas clergy, who have gone on sabbatical, consistently report that not only did they come back healthier and stronger, but they found their congregations that way, too.
  • Instead of calling it a sabbatical, we want to focus on it being called “Renewal Support”.
  • These 4R’s are not for Jay only, but for Grace Church too.

History of sabbatical

  • Rest, renewal, and reconnection are essential parts of our lives. Their importance is modeled by God in the creation story when He took the seventh day to rest. This importance was later emphasized in its inclusion within the Ten Commandments: remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. The tradition of setting the Sabbath apart and having a day set aside from being productive is at odds with our culture, and is largely ignored. The true cost of doing so is not that God has been robbed of some worship He is owed, but rather a pervasive and growing sense of exhaustion and disconnection as our own essential needs are left unmet.
  • Priests and several other professions do not take Sundays off, and because of the 24-7 nature of their roles, their job concerns intrude and chip into any day during the week that they set aside.
  • The practice of the sabbatical evolved in the 1800’s inspired by a passage in Leviticus 25 – in short, every seventh year, the field you are farming gets a full year off – the basics of crop rotation. This extended period of being at rest from work is extended most often to college professors and to priests to help make up for the Sabbath time they miss out in their daily lives. It is no coincidence that the Diocese wishes its priests to go on Sabbatical and take this time of renewal every seven years. Its purpose is not to reward clergy but to take care of their essential needs.

How will the church pay for the sabbatical?

  • Currently, the sabbatical committee is in the process of applying for an endowment grant to assist with paying for the sabbatical.
  • Is there a commitment that Jay will stay with Grace for a period of time post sabbatical? Yes, Jay and Jamie are committed to Grace Church.  A requirement of the Lilly Grant is that the priest agrees to continue his service and ministry at the church.

Is it a vacation?

  • NO, this is not a vacation. THIS IS A GIFT!  This is time for many things to occur involving the 4Rs.  It is also to prevent burn out and promote healthy physical and mental lifestyles.
  • Reconnect: For Jay, Jamie and the George family to reconnect with each other as a whole family.  Time for Jay to reconnect with God on a personal basis.
  • Rest: To quiet his mind of daily pastoral concerns and disconnect from the outside world.
  • Renewal: To renew his ministry, renew his relationship with God
  • Refresh/Revitalize: To grow in his spiritual journey

Are there any expectations?

  • Grace Church has expectations of Jay and Jay has expectations of Grace Church during the sabbatical time.

Will I be able to contact Jay?

  • This is time for Jay to rest and reconnect with himself and with God for his ministry and for his spiritual journey. There will be a team to contact if an emergency arises.

Who will be leading church services?

  • The sabbatical committee is working with Jay on supplying coverage for church services during his time away on sabbatical.

Who will make final church decisions when Jay is on sabbatical?

  • The church will look to the vestry committee, senior and junior wardens, and various ministry leaders to make church decisions that may arise.

How and who will complete church duties?

  • All of us!
  • This sabbatical is not only a gift to Jay, but to Grace Church as well. This will allow leaders of Grace Church to rise up to handle jobs that Jay no longer needs to be concerned with on a daily/weekly basis.  Parishioners will take on more responsibility for the life and ministries of the church and are reminded that everything does not require the priest to be present.

What does this mean for Grace Church?

  • This is a chance for Grace Church to grow and become stronger with members of the church stepping up to complete tasks and giving back to God through the work.
  • New leaders will emerge.
  • Rely on each other to complete tasks in the church instead of relying on Jay after his return to Grace, post sabbatical.
  • Again….we GROW and become STRONGER!

Sabbatical length of Time?

  • 4 months (Spring/Summer 2020)

What do you think?

Please keep your comments polite and on-topic.

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