Sabbaticals: Periodic Sabbath Rest  – A sabbatical is a period of rest with a purpose.  Rooted in the Old Testament is a command for rest in a pattern of sevens:  work six days, rest on the seventh; work the land six years, allow it to rest in the seventh, etc.  During the Middle Ages, schools of higher education began to grant their instructors leave of absence every seven years to help them renew their passion for their subject.  The pattern of work-rest is as important now as it was then and it is within this context that the pastor sabbatical was created.

It has been found that a sabbatical strengthens and further develops a pastor’s ability to serve the church.  Pastors typically gain new perspectives, deepening their own insight and positively affecting their preaching and service.  Pastors become renewed spiritually through rest and education and typically come away from sabbaticals with renewed passion and vision.  At the Annual Meeting in November, the Congregational Council reported that, in accordance with the Guidelines for Sabbatical Leave of the Lower Susquehanna Synod (every seven years) and in recognition of the toll that our renovation project has taken on him, Pastor Reep has been granted his second sabbatical at St. Paul’s.  Some of you may not remember Pastor Reep’s first Sabbatical 8 years ago, granted well past the first seven years of his ministry with us!  He enjoyed time painting in Italy, visiting family across the U.S., learning at Chautauqua Institute in N.Y., and relaxing with friends at the lake. He returned with a passion and vision for St. Paul’s that brought our building into the 21st century, opening up ministry potential for us to live into our mission, “To teach the world that God is love”.

A subcommittee has been appointed to work with the Bishop and Pastor Reep in this process.  It is the plan for Pastor Reep to enjoy a sabbatical in the summer of 2022 (yes, that would be 9 years but he’s been rather busy and the Covid virus has delayed his plans for a year!).  The subcommittee will update the congregation with every step of the planning process and share more information about sabbaticals over the next year.  Look for the special “Sabbatical Box” in the upcoming newsletters, bulletins, and easel boards.  Questions can be addressed to the sub-committee members:  Harold Sargeant, Rhada Hartmann, and Joe Kinkella.  Please pray for the subcommittee as it works towards a plan for a much needed and deserved Sabbath rest for Pastor Reep and the church.

The Pastoral Sabbatical

Pastors serve a variety of roles in their privileged position at the center of congregational life: preacher, teacher, spiritual guide, pastoral visitor, friend, and confidante.Pastoral responsibilities are 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.  The pace and demands of parish life are relentless, often leaving even the most dedicated pastors recognizing the need to replenish their own spiritual reservoirs; to regain energy and strength for their ministry.  Sabbaticals are typically those periods of time in which a pastor further develops his ability to serve his church.  Pastors typically gain new perspectives, deepen their own insight, and positively affect their preaching and service. Pastors become renewed spiritually through rest and education; and, typically come away from sabbaticals with renewed passion and vision. We are in the early phase of planning for this time of intentional exploration and reflection for Pastor Reep.  The planning for and execution of the sabbatical requires all of our prayers.  We are grateful for the opportunity for him to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and engage in a period of renewal and reflection.  We pray that the time provided will give him renewed enthusiasm and creativity for ministry at St. Paul’s.  We pray that the congregation will look upon this time as one of opportunity for us all as we move from our renovation project into realizing the ministries made possible by that renovation.

How can a Sabbatical be of benefit to and enrich the life of the congregation? One of our purposes for the sabbatical is renewal, which provides our Pastor time away from the intense demands of daily ministry.   Sabbaticals are typically periods of “rest with a purpose”.   Sabbaticals “strengthen and further develop a pastor’s ability to further serve the church”. Pastors typically “gain new perspectives, deepening their own insight and positively affecting their preaching and service”.  Pastors become “renewed spiritually through rest and education and typically come away from sabbaticals with renewed passion and vision”.   A second purpose of the sabbatical is to prepare for the future of St. Paul’s Church. The sabbatical will provide the time and energy for Pastor Reep and the congregation to find new and dynamic ways to achieve our mission: “To show the world that God is love.” Our intent is to arrange a time of retreat, reflection and revitalization for the work that lies ahead of us and a time of re-connection with those things that make us who we are.  By providing a time of renewal for our Pastor, our church will benefit in several ways. Of course, spiritual, emotional, and physical rejuvenation will lead to increased energy and enthusiasm for his pastoral work. Intensive theological and spiritual education will nurture creativity, novel approaches to present and future needs, and inspiration to provide ongoing education and pastoral care for our church family. Pastor Reep’s sabbatical will support us in our shared work of planning for our next quarter century of ministry. His renewal will energize us to live out our mission “To show the world that God is love.” Hopefully Pastor Reep will also experience a practical appreciation for the seemingly thankless hours spent on our behalf, and have time to dream and envision new approaches for mission and ministry in the 21st Century.   If you have any questions, concerns or comments about the Sabbatical planning process, please see Harold Sargeant, Rhada Hartmann, or Joe Kinkella.