One year ago, the Emmanuel family voted to approve a recommendation for me to apply for a sabbatical grant through the Lilly Foundation. Having received full funding for this program through the grant, I wanted to let the church family know a little more about what the sabbatical involves for all of us this summer.
First of all, I want to say again how grateful I am that you have so enthusiastically supported this opportunity. It truly shows your commitment to your pastor’s professional growth and spiritual renewal. While many of our fellow CBF congregations have a sabbatical policy, I realize that this opportunity is not common in every church. Thank you for making this a priority.
The purpose of a sabbatical is to be a season of renewal for both the pastor and the congregation. In keeping with the strict guidelines of the grant, I was required to develop the program around a central theme. I chose the theme of wonder. I realize that the craft and cultivation of preaching, teaching, and leading worship require a continuous stream of creativity and imagination. This creativity needs to be stoked occasionally to prevent it from growing stale. The various elements of the approved program all have a common purpose of renewing this sense of wonder for me.
Similarly, our church family is body of vibrant creativity. This is part of our witness in the community. With this in mind, the staff is developing some Wednesday night programs in July for the congregation to explore and cultivate the sense of wonder so important to our ministry together.
My last Sunday prior to taking leave will be May 17, the morning we recognize our high school seniors in worship. My first Sunday back in the pulpit will be August 23. During that time we will be led by our faithful ministerial staff and lay leaders. We will also host some very gifted preachers who will challenge and inspire us from the pulpit.
In the upcoming weeks, I will write another Emmanuel Life article answering some of the questions I’ve been asked about the sabbatical program. Thank you again for all your support in this venture.