Articles on Clergy Sabbaticals

  • 1. The Louisville Institute: Sabbatical Grants for Pastoral Leaders Program 1994-2011

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 17 Jul 2012
    Don C. Richter
    Louisville Institute, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
    This brief report offers a retrospective on the Sabbatical Grants for Pastoral Leaders program, describing its genesis and evolution, it accomplishments and discoveries, and staff recommendations for pastors on “How to Have a Good Sabbatical.
  • 2. Weaving the Fabric of Our Faith

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 21 Nov 2011
    Glyn L. Ruppe-Melnyk
    St. Francis-in-the-Fields, Malvern, PA
    Glyn Ruppe-Melnyk describes through the metaphor of weaving how she and her congregation formulated a parallel sabbatical experience where she focused on the baptismal covenant of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer while her congregation sought a deeper understanding of personal and corporate prayer.
  • 3. Beyond the Howl of Coyotes: Reflections on a Good Sabbatical

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 21 Oct 2011
    William G. Carter
    First Presbyterian Church, Clarks Summit, PA
    Focusing his sabbatical project around studying and praying the Psalms, Bill Carter looked to two quite different sites both of which take the psalms seriously - a Benedictine monastery where the entire Psalter is chanted each week and a Free Church congregation in Scotland where unaccompanied psalm singing is the only form of congregational music. He describes helpful information about the challenges of preparing to go on a sabbatical and of reentry.
  • 4. O Taste and See that the Lord is Good!

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 03 Sep 2011
    Kurt M. Billings
    St. James Lutheran Church, Verona, WI
    Taking two areas of great interest to him seriously – the renewal of the Sabbath and the Slow Food movement – Kurt Billings fashioned a sabbatical that allowed him to discover that Sabbath rest is different from simply collapsing after a long work week. He describes how his sabbatical refocused the emphasis of his ministry on the deep need and hunger in our world for community and relationship with Christ and one another.
  • 5. An Invitation to Rest: What a Clergy Renewal Grant Can Do for You

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 19 Apr 2011
    Allen Burris
    Mitchell Church of Christ, Mitchell, IN
    Allen Burris describes his pastoral sabbatical as a "gift that keeps on giving." Yet he remembers how at first he doubted whether the Clergy Renewal Program was meant for those like him -- "unknown servants working with unknown churches."
  • 6. Opening the Door to Wonder: The Enduring Gift of Sabbatical

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 17 Apr 2011
    Edward Horstmann
    Senior Minister, Immanuel Congregational Church, Hartford, CT
    Edward Horstmann describes what he calls "certain fundamental shifts" that have taken place in the way that he regards and practices ministry, the most important of which is the restoration of a sense of wonder.
  • 7. “Hozho”: Finding Harmony to Walk in Beauty’s Way

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 21 Feb 2011
    Alison Halsey
    The First and Franklin St. Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
    Although she set out to explore the arts in relationship to spirituality, what Alison Halsey discovered during her sabbatical experience was the need to pursue “hozho,” a Navajo word best approximated in English by combining the meaning of order, beauty, balance and harmony. Her discovery brought her to understand how the creative arts might be helpful in restoring sanity and soul to the pastor and congregation and be instrumental in connection both to the “Ground of All Being.”
  • 8. The Postmodern Parish: New Ministry for a New Era

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 21 Feb 2011
    Gary Mathiesen
    Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church, Puyallup, WA
    Gary Mathieson recounts how he involved elders from his congregation in designing his sabbatical not for him alone but for both him and the congregation. His sabbatical sought to “recover and freshen” their passion for missions that had brought them together in ministry. On parallel pathways Mathieson and his congregation sought out mission experiences to broaden their horizons of how both needed to “adapt and respond” to their changing community and congregation. He then describes what those parallel pathways involved for both parties and the learnings he derived from the experiences during and after the sabbatical.
  • 9. Sabbath: Reflections on a New Beginning

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 08 Dec 2010
    Donald Gillett II
    East Second Street Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, Lexington, KY
    Don Gillett says that he needed time to "restore my soul, ... refresh my well, ... reconnect with family, friends and my first love -- God." Following the troubled pastorate of a former minister who had limited the congregation's vision of the possible, Gillett set about rebuilding and healing the congregation but at the expense of his own health and key relationships in his life. For Gillett, his sabbatical provided a sabbath for beginning anew with the help of a gathering of supportive clergy couples and in a retreat aimed specifically for ministers.
  • 10. Constellations of Meaning: Looking Beyond the Milky Way

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 20 Sep 2010
    Catherine MacLean
    St. Paul's United Church, Edmonton, Canada
    Taking the advice she gave to new ministers that they should "read everything, love wildly and have fun," Catherine MacLean found in her sabbatical that "carvying study time -- reading that doesn't have an immediate connection to Sunday -- bears fruit in the practice of ministry." But before she set out on her sabbatical, she and her congregation developed an innovative and worshipful way of keeping each other in mind and heart as well as before God.
  • 11. My Sabbatical and My Evolution as a Leader-Coach

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 13 Sep 2010
    Fred Nelson
    Redeemer Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, IL
    A second career pastor, Fred Nelson has experienced congregational life and pastoral ministry the way most people do -- from the "other side." Nelson notes how the development of five purpose-driven teams in his congregation during his sabbatical allowed for a new shared leadership relationship once he returned, and this transformed his vision of his own pastoral role to that of leader-coach.
  • 12. Falling in Love Again

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 11 Jun 2010
    Ross Goodman
    St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arlington, Massachusetts
    Quoting Ron Heifetz's dictum that leaders need to "get to the balcony" every once in a while to gain perspective, Ross Goodman found his sabbatical "balcony" allowed him to return to his congregation as a beloved community that previously had been "hidden in plain sight by weariness."
  • 13. Fully Alive?

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 07 May 2010
    Juliette Williams
    St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Altadena, California
    Juliette Marsh Williams recalls how her sabbatical unexpectedly drew her to look beyond the gift of an extended period of time away and reconsider day-to-day living as the real opportunity to be “fully alive.”
  • 14. Before and After: Sabbatical Reflections and Ministry

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 07 May 2010
    William Gaskill
    First Presbyterian Church of Merchantville, Merchantville, New Jersey
    William Gaskill recounts a sabbatical embedded within the context of grief and healing, a healing in which he experienced God “loving me forward.”
  • 15. What Difference does a Pastoral Sabbatical Make?: What Pastors and Their Congregations Have to Say

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 22 Dec 2009
    Sheldon Sorge
    Louisville Institute, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
    Sheldon Sorge, Associate Director of the Louisville Institute, reports on a study of the effects of pastoral sabbaticals on both the pastors who receive them and the congregations that they serve.
  • 16. Four Intersections: Family, Friends, Faith, and Culture

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 01 Dec 2009
    Robert Henderson
    Covenant Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, North Carolina
    Traveling from Kenya through Egypt to Bethlehem, Bob Henderson rediscovered the life-giving nature of friendships both in and out of the context of ministry and the surprising adaptability of the Christian faith in challenging cultural environments.
  • 17. Flight from Fear, Pathway to a New Song

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 11 Oct 2009
    Andrea Leininger
    Bethel United Methodist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
    Andra Leininger recognized that fear is the great enemy of faith until appreciated as an invitation from God to move beyond the distraction of fearing rejection, failure, change or death. So she employed a renewal blog during her sabbatical to maintain contact with her congregation and enliven planned experiences in this congregation to parallel her journey. In the process, she and her congregation recovered their sight of God’s living presence and their voice in song and action praising God’s daily activity in their midst.
  • 18. Finders Keepers

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 04 Sep 2009
    Mike Mather
    Broadway United Methodist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana
    Mike Mather recalls that his two sabbatical experiences in India, Bangladesh, South Africa and New Mexico allowed him the space in his life to search in the "unlooked for" where he found clear evidence of God's abundance in the most unlikely places and lessons in persistent faith despite what appeared to be intractable obstacles.
  • 19. Africa and New Sight

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 24 Aug 2009
    Malcolm Young
    Christ Episcopal Church, Los Altos, California
    Malcolm Young and his family expected their pilgrimage to Africa to help them build better neighbors, to understand their own faith and the conflicts within it. But what they could not have planned was the spirit's capacity to transform them by giving them new sight for their church and ministry.
  • 20. Prayers and Dreams: Answered and Experienced

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 02 Aug 2009
    Tom Hux
    Our Savior Lutheran Church, Salem, Oregon
    Tom Hux explores his opportunity to live a dream first conceived during his seminary days to visit a South African pastor who had taught him more about what it means to be a Christian than any other person that he had known. This, plus a side visit with the London founder of the Alpha Course, renewed his commitment to the gospel's dual call to evangelism and social service.
  • 21. Meeting the Weaver: Experiencing the Strands of Religious Diversity

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 02 Jul 2009
    Jim Papile
    St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Reston, VA
    Jim Papile wanted to travel to places where Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Eastern Orthodoxy and contemporary American culture were dominant in order to experience how the faithful expressed their religious beliefs in their day-to-day lives. His pilgrimage led him to the monastery of Shantivanum, to the Hindu Sivananda Ashram, to a silent retreat with Tibetan Buddhist teachings in Dharamsala in India and to Saint John’s monastery on Patmos in the Greek isles.
  • 22. The Power of Sacred Places and Practices

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 29 Jun 2009
    Joseph Phelps
    Highland Baptist Church, Louisville, KY
    Joseph Phelps was not burned out nor questioning his calling. Instead, he was excited about his church's future plans. But he sought through his sabbatical of travel to search for an integration of "message and medium, community and context, and spirit and space." This journey allowed him in the end to discover with new eyes his home congregation.
  • 23. Bread and Breath for the Breadth of the Journey: Reflections Three Years Out

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 09 Nov 2008
    Dorisanne Cooper
    Lake Shore Baptist Church, Waco, TX
    Dorisanne Cooper describes her exploration of spiritual and physical practices that would provide a nurturing rhythm to her ministry now and into the future.
  • 24. The Ministry of Mentoring in the 21st Century Church

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 27 Sep 2008
    Amy McCreath
    Episcopal Chaplain at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Amy McCreath considers the historic and present needs and challenges for Christian mentoring especially with what she calls the present “open source” generation in a post-modern society of increasing complexity. She also discusses the unique requirements of mentoring to the three particularly critical seasons of life, college/young adulthood, early professional life, and early retirement.
  • 25. Ministry Relearned

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 27 Sep 2008
    Robert Kyte
    Pastor, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Dalton, MA
    Faced with a group of potential members from a new generation who drifted away after finding the church wanting, Robert Kyte employed his time on sabbatical to ask whether there is a future for the traditional “name brand” (Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, UCC) American Protestant churches. What do adults aged 45 and under look for in a church? Do they look for a church at all? What are some mainline churches doing differently that causes them to thrive, and what do pastors need to learn and practice now?
  • 26. A Lifelong Pull into an Unlikely Dance

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 27 Sep 2008
    James E. Wolff
    Senior Pastor, Lawndale Christian Reformed Church, Chicago, IL
    James Wolff recounts a remarkable event when the Holy Spirit connected the “word read” with the “word lived” in the life of a man who drew Wolff himself into a dance set to the rhythms of grace.
  • 27. Dancing in the Sea

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 05 Sep 2008
    Janet Lilly Wanner
    Westlake Community Church of God, Indianapolis
    Janet Wanner describes how with the help of a group of writers she developed a plan for her sabbatical that allowed her to dance in a sea of practices beyond her “home” tradition and thereby enrich her relationship to God and her ministry in congregation and ecumenical settings.
  • 28. Reflections on Ministry

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 05 Sep 2008
    Virginia Herring
    Holy Trinity Church, Greensboro, North Carolina
    Virginia Herring recounts a pilgrimage with her daughters into Celtic spirituality that has taught her to “bless the more mundane parts of ordained life” as the ever new beginning of a desperately needed reconciling ministry.
  • 29. Brick by Brick, Sunday by Sunday: Creating God, Creating Still

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 13 Aug 2008
    Talitha Arnold
    The United Church of Santa Fe, NM
    Talitha Arnold considers the lessons that the church might well learn from Renaissance artists who persistently embraced creativity as a calling akin to that of the Creator despite the risk of failure and the inevitable imperfection of the works of human hands.
  • 30. A Pilgrimage through Latin America

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 13 Aug 2008
    Tom Smith
    St. Rita Catholic Church, Louisville, KY
    Tom Smith discovered the experience of a pilgrim as he traveled in various Latin American countries in order to understand better the cultures and religious practice of his Hispanic immigrant parishioners and why they have chosen to immigrate to the United States.
  • 31. It’s a Big Big Big Big Big Big Big World: Sacred Serendipities

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 16 Apr 2008
    Marion D. Aldridge
    Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina
    Marion Aldridge developed his sabbatical plans to ensure "scheduled shocks" that would help him attend to the voices of those in his church and culture that the Christian community has for too long ignored. In the process, he discovered a world beyond his comfort zone where the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit are blowing and Christians are called to minister.
  • 32. In Search of Sanctuary: A journey into silence finds God's peace

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 16 Apr 2008
    Linda Jo Peters
    Unity Presbyterian Church, Terre Haute, Indiana
    Linda Jo Peters discovers keys to becoming a source of peace in the disciplines of silence found in prayer, Sabbath taking and receiving blessings.
  • 33. Sabbatical As Fitting Room — A Pastoral Paradigm

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 16 Apr 2008
    James E. Lamkin
    Northside Drive Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
    After thirty-three years in the ordained ministry, James Lamkin offers three seminal pieces of his credo that can help other parish clergy pay attention to the emotional processes within their congregation.
  • 34. Reflections on a Broken Sabbatical

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 16 Apr 2008
    Walter Hermanns
    Holy Communion Lutheran Church, Racine, Wisconsin
    Walter Hermanns offers a refreshing draft of insights into the possibilities and locales for ministry that he discovered unexpectedly from the vantage point of a wheelchair during his sabbatical.
  • 35. Being Still: A Spiritual Gift for Ministry and Mission Effectiveness

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 16 Apr 2008
    Angelique Walker-Smith
    Church Federation of Greater Indianapolis, IN
    Angelique Walker-Smith recounts a sabbatical that underscored the importance of finding approaches that would more carefully define the difference between a focus on “the doing” of ministry tasks versus “the being” in ministry. Approaches that she calls “standing still” with God.
  • 36. Clergy Renewal Programs (Part II): Renewal is Key to Pastors' Sabbaticals

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 26 Sep 2005
    Tracy Schier
    Lilly Endowment & the Louisville Institute
    This is the second of two articles about grants to religious leaders that allow them to take time away from their demanding lives in order to renew themselves spiritually, physically, emotionally, intellectually and in their personal relationships. This article highlights the experiences of several pastoral leaders who experienced sabbaticals. For more information and applications for the program on the web, see <a href=http://www.clergyrenewal.org>National Clergy Renewal Program</a>
  • 37. Clergy Renewal Programs (Part I): Taking Time to Renew Ministerial Vocations

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 24 Sep 2005
    Tracy Schier
    Lilly Endowment & the Louisville Institute
    This is the first of two articles examining programs that provide grants to religious leaders, allowing them to take time away from their demanding lives in order to renew themselves spiritually, physically, emotionally, intellectually and in their personal relationships. This article will focus on what the sabbaticals and clergy renewal grants programs are meant to accomplish, what promise they hold for persons who receive grants in the programs, what pitfalls should be avoided and what expectations should be. See <a href=http://www.clergyrenewal.org>National Clergy Renewal Program</a>
  • 38. The Integration of Preaching & Transformational Leadership

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 11 Jun 2005
    Mariann Edgar Budde
    St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Minneapolis, MN
    Convinced that preaching is the primary spiritual discipline for parish leaders and yet must be connected to effective leadership in other dimensions of congregational life, Mariann Budde pursued two projects during her sabbatical. First she asked how preaching reflects the relationship between the congregation and preacher and can set a tone for spiritual exploration and adventure within the community. At the same time, she studied how large congregations are structured to encourage growth and transformation. Her discoveries, outlined in her reflections here, have led to an integration of her preaching with transformational leadership.
  • 39. A Clergy Sabbatical: God's 'Set Aside' for the Soul

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 11 Jun 2005
    Lawrence Pray
    First Congregational UCC, Big Timber, Montana
    Lawrence Pray compares his sabbatical experience as a “set-aside time” akin to the practice of farmers when they “set aside” certain parts of their acreage so that the earth can be renewed and provide in the future more plentiful harvests. He describes in detail the ways that he assisted his congregation in preparing for his departure and their assumption of full leadership in the congregation, and he offers an account of how the laity’s growth as spiritual leaders proved essential to the congregation and his own spiritual sustenance when upon his return from sabbatical he experienced a major stroke.
  • 40. Waiting on Both Halves of the Soul: Ministry as Prose and as Poetry

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 24 Apr 2005
    Vincent Rush
    Saint Hugh of Lincoln Roman Catholic Church
    Vincent Rush observes that the life and work of the minister necessarily involves skills in two domains -- the fixed and constant world in which outcomes are definable and more or less subject to control and a contrasting world of allusion, symbol, story, parable, ritual and directionless play where outcomes always come as a gift. He discussses how a period of sabbatical proved essential to rebalancing these two sides of ministry which he calls "the prose and the poetry" of ministry.
  • 41. The Decalogue and Leadership

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 24 Apr 2005
    Kevin Phillips
    Saint Timothy's Episcopal Church
    Kevin Phillips draws on the insights of Martin Buber, John Macmurray and Daniel Elazar in order to show how the ten commandments apply outside of a religious setting. He then outlines a typology of leadership based on five root values expressed in the decalogue that he suggests has direct application in the forming of leaders who can foster creative, high functioning organizations.
  • 42. Reshaping Ministry in Light of My Sabbatical Experience

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 01 Jan 2005
    Terrie Rae Anderson
    Family of Grace Lutheran Church
    Terrie Anderson notes that far too often we seek to give back to God a tithe of all we have while trying to make a difference in our world all by ourselves. But, she observes, it is only when we rest in God’s arms that we can fully experience the wonders of God moving in our lives.
  • 43. A Desert Experience

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 01 Jan 2005
    Ann E. Helmke
    The Peace Center, San Antonio, Texas
    Recounting the healing experience of her sabbatical, Ann Helmke asks, “When did much of the Church at-large abandon the sense and reality of Mystery? It is our heritage. Scripture is filled with countless accounts of ordinary people experiencing holy transformation and relationship in their lives. What are we afraid of? That others might call us fool?
  • 44. Ministry's Journey Toward Mission

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 10 Sep 2004
    Sherryl White
    Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania
    Sherryl White notes that “the challenge for ministerial health and holiness seems lightly tethered to a fragile equilibrium of intersecting orbits: (a) an attentive listening to what has been; (b) an active participation in the moment before me; and (c) a ready availability for what is yet to come.” But she asked: “How can I hold myself in a state of ready hope so as to be available to transformative invitations of future?” For her an answer came in “desert grace” during a sabbatical in the American southwest.
  • 45. Reshaping Ministry in the Light of a Pastors Working Group

    Grant Origin: Lilly Clergy Renewal GrantDate Published: 02 Jul 2004
    William F. Buchanan
    Fifteenth Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, TN
    From his experience over thirteen months with an ecumenical group of pastors, William Buchanan finds hope for the church's future in the notion of "ambiguous vision" and direction for ministry in the inculcation of Christian practices generally and hospitality in particular.
  • 46. A Joyful Calling: Mentoring Young Adults for the Ministry

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 06 May 2004
    Peter A. Luckey
    Plymouth Congregational Church, Lawrence, Kansas
    Recognizing that no one is called to ministry without first being called by God, Peter Luckey proposes practical means by which congregations and religious leaders can plan their essential role of confirming and nurturing those called to serve and guide the church in the future.
  • 47. Christian Unity: Local Movements & Congregational Implications

    Grant Origin: Louisville InstituteDate Published: 31 Mar 2004
    Paul E. Grabill
    State College Assembly of God, State College, PA
    Paul Grabill proposes that an emerging “City Church” movement may well bring about a “New Reformation” of American Protestantism by generating a transdenominational, relationally driven unity among Christian congregations at the local level.