I have enjoyed writing about sabbaticals in the Friday devotions. I hope that the devotions have expanded your understanding of sabbaticals (for all whether an extended time or a short laugh) and have led to prayer for Pr Peter and PoP. He will be concluding Phase 1 of his sabbatical this coming Wednesday. With this phase of his sabbatical ending, I recall similar experiences in parish ministry.
Pr Libby Howe, Wisconsin Council of Churches Congregational Support Coordinator for Peace & Justice Ministries, wrote a blog “Welcome Back from Sabbatical Pastor!” In her essay she shared that many of her colleagues are returning from sabbaticals, especially as many were delayed by the Covid pandemic. She wrote:
One of the most asked questions to pastors about sabbatical is “how was it?” Depending on the context of the question, the answer will vary. But it’s unlikely that the quick, casual going-through-the-line-after-worship moment will be able to support this conversation. A lot can happen… First there’s the normal life stuff like family transitions, health issues, and world events. Add to that the many “extras” that sabbatical allows–visits to faraway places, new experiences and cultures, time to read, pursue a physical challenge, meet new people and reconnect with friends and family from other life chapters. “How was sabbatical?” is a pretty loaded question. If you’re someone asking it, be ready for either a very long answer or a very short one until a pastor has a while to put that answer together.
Pr Libby’s sabbatical plans were scuttled by a medical emergency. You can read her essay at: Welcome Back From Sabbatical, Pastor! – Wisconsin Council of Churches (wichurches.org)
Pr Peter’s sabbatical is in two parts, with the first part concluding May 31. There will be time for sharing and processing his experience and all that has happened with PoP! We will also be able to bless the second part of his sabbatical that begins July 1st.
Pr Libby proposes a different question to ask a pastor returning from sabbatical:
Some better questions to ask a pastor when they return from sabbatical are “Tell me about Rest. What was rest like for you?” and “What do we need to do as a community to perpetuate a healthy rest ethic here, for everyone?” It just might be that the most transformative sabbatical experiences happen upon (the return of the pastor.)
Welcome back from “Part One” of your sabbatical, Pr Peter!