What is a Sabbatical?
The word “Sabbatical” comes from the Greek and literally means, “Of the Sabbath.” A ministry sabbatical is a period of time allowed by a church for their pastor to experience Sabbath renewal, rest, and extended study time away.
Why is a Sabbatical necessary?
Many people think “sabbatical” is just another word for vacation; that is not an accurate description. While vacation time is important, a sabbatical is something very different. There are unique challenges in leading a large congregation, including incredible time demands on the pastor and family, and the sense that the pastor is “on call” 24/7. A sabbatical can help meet these challenges by giving the pastor a chance to reflect, rest, renew, and do research over an extended period of time.
How did the idea for Central to offer a ministry sabbatical come about?
The United Methodist Church encourages its pastors to engage in a spiritual growth and renewal program every seven years. Knowing this, last year the Staff-Parish Relations Committee proposed, and the Church Council approved, a Senior Pastor Sabbatical Program. This program provides for an initial 6-week, fully funded sabbatical in 2016 followed by a two-week fully funded renewal in each of the following six years. The cycle then repeats itself in 2023. Carness’ sabbatical will be from June 17th-July 31st.
What are the main benefits for the pastor of this sabbatical?
The main benefits for the pastor are renewal, rest, and study. Specifically, it will allow Carness a chance to have some extended time away to recharge, renew, reflect and pray for the coming years of ministry here at Central. This time of renewal is also beneficial for the pastor’s family, as they get some extended time together.
What will Carness be doing on his sabbatical?
For Carness, the ministry sabbatical will include time for him and his family to get away, to have some rest and renewal, and for him to do research. Carness’ focus will be on our Methodist heritage and Wesleyan theology, taking him to England, the home of Methodism and its founder, John Wesley.
What are the main benefits for the church of this sabbatical?
Research across all denominations has proven that a ministry sabbatical contributes to continued growth, increased productivity and spiritual vitality of a church. Central has such outstanding lay leadership, in addition to our quality pastors and staff, that we are confident in our ability to not miss a beat. In addition, the return of the Senior Pastor following a sabbatical (Carness will return on August 1st) brings a renewed sense of passion, energy, and readiness to lead the church in the years to follow in ways that could never have been achieved without it.
How is the Sabbatical paid for?
The Church Council is committed to having a fully-funded Senior Pastor Sabbatical program. A portion of the cost for 2016 is in this year’s SPR budget and a portion has been gifted by individuals within the congregation.
What will happen at Central while Carness is gone?
Here at Central we have an outstanding group of pastors and staff who, along with our Church Council, will provide leadership while Carness is on his sabbatical. On Sunday mornings the pastors will be leading us in a sermon series and church- wide study about our Methodist heritage and beliefs, giving us an opportunity to “follow along” as it were with Carness and his studies. At any point during the sabbatical if you find yourself in need of pastoral care, one of our other pastors or Congregational Care leaders will be available to provide it for you.
What Can I Do to Help?
As Carness and the church prepare for this journey, you are invited to join in a time of prayer. Pray that Carness and his family will experience a season of renewal and refreshment; that he will discover new insights into our Methodist Heritage and our Wesleyan theology; and that he will return to lead us forward in our mission of Connecting People to Christ. Pray that Central will remain focused in his absence, and that you will remain active in your faith and your attendance.
If I have any further questions about the sabbatical, who should I talk to?
Feel free to call our Church Administrator Tami Stewart (636-1630), Church Council Chair Dennis Reaves (464-4485) or any of our SPR Church Council representatives (Molly Pickering, Chair; Mark Secker, Vice-Chair; Carole Baker, Lay Leader; George Rhoads, Janna Gartman, Sara Heck, Greg Spencer, Dave Wicklund, David York) with any questions.