In our January leadership team meeting, the leadership team proposed that I be given a sabbatical as soon as possible and that, with the help of our human resources team, that we add a sabbatical policy to our employee handbook. Both of the those initiatives were worked on and approved in our April leadership team meeting.
So I will be gone on a sabbatical this summer. My last Sunday will be May 18th and I will resume my UBC duties on August 17th.
I'm very excited.
Since I began this job in 2007 a lot has changed. Two community pastors have left and two more have been hired. A social worker left. Two office managers have come and gone. Our worship and arts pastor transitioned and we are also on our second children's pastor.
In that time we have also written and adopted new bylaws (thanks Craig), changed the leadership structure of the organization, formed a human resources team, and forged a new mission statement. We've renovated two rooms ... demanded by the ever growing children's ministry and we have asked good and important questions about identity.
That's a lot for seven years.
My friend Burt has given me language to understand what has/is happening. He tells me that every new movement eventually becomes an institution and then new movements pop up in their place.
UBC will be 20 in January and the last 7 years have been about the growing pains of transition of movement to institution.
I will be the first one in line to tell you how fantastic and truly unique I think UBC is. And to get that uniqueness you really have to commit to being in the life of the community. It's an ethos and those can't be explained, it's experienced. I have endured the difficulties of this job with ease because I'm feel so incredibly blessed and privileged to have this job. This job is a lot of work, but it is meaningful work. It is good work.
But i have to confess something.
I've noticed a change in myself this year. It has been a good year, but it has been a hard year. I suspect that some of that change is chemical and has to do with aging. Some of it has to do with the structure change that was implemented last year and the steep learning curve that came with it. But I think a lot of it has to do with this type of work. I want to humbly suggest that pastoring demands a different part of the self than most jobs. It's not the hardest job, but it is what it is and after 7 years this August, it has caught up with me.
I always try and be careful when I talk about providence ... but I feel God's grace and timing in this.
I thought I would take some time to answer a few questions that you might be asking.
What is a sabbatical?
This from Eugene Peterson's Contemplative Pastor:
"Sabbatical years are the biblically based provision for restoration. When the farmer's field is depleted, it is given a sabbatical -- after six years of planting and harvesting, it is left alone for a year so that the nutrients can build up in it. When people in ministry are depleted, they also are given a sabbatical -- time apart for recovery of spiritual and creative energies."
I'd also like to include this video featuring Truett's Robert Creech, that David Wilhite prepared for the leadership team when they were in the discerning process.
What will you do?
The title of my sabbatical proposal is "A Geography of Faith." This summer I will be doing a good deal of traveling. The theme that emerged as I was preparing was "place." I will be spending time in Montana, Canada, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Italy, Germany, and Ireland.
The stated purpose of my sabbatical is: "The purpose of this sabbatical is to use my time for rest, formation, and planning."
These three words were shaped by research that the leadership team did on sabbatical. Angela Reed is Truett's spiritual formation director. She did her research on sabbaticals at Princeton. She suggests that a healthy sabbatical be a minimum of three months. One month to decompress. One month for formation. One month for reentry.
Thus my summer will be used in such fashion. In my proposal I have listed specific goals and learning competencies that will shape how I use the time I have been gifted by our community.
Who is going to do your job while you are gone?
Because the pastoral role is a unique it is impossible to cover every aspect of someone’s job in his/her absence. That being said a lot can be covered.
Here is how my responsibilities will be divided up in my absence.
Toph: staff meetings, July leadership team meeting, and pastoral counseling.
Craig: newsletter and discerning theological responses as needed.
Tye: Worship planning as it relates to the homiletical moment, managing the shut down teams on Sunday mornings and closing the building.
Michelle: All office related functions, Work is Worship.
Emily: Ministering to new families.
I've filled eleven of the thirteen weeks in the preaching schedule. I will publish those names when it is finalized.
Who is paying for all of this?
I will continue to paid my normal UBC salary while I'm gone. Because of UBC's current financial position and because this moment is a impromptu, sabbatical is not in the annual budget. I will be paying for the costs associated with my travel expenses.
I'm incredibly grateful for this opportunity and would ask that if you feel compelled, that you would support me and my family by praying for us this summer.
Here are some of our prayer needs:
- Traveling Mercies
- For Lindsay who will have all the kids for four of the weeks while I travel internationally
- For unique opportunities to be surprised by God and other people
- For UBC, that it would thrive in my absence and that I would not worry about church stuff while i'm gone
- For renewal of my soul so that I will have new and fresh energy to give to our community when I get back
- For a deepening in my own formation and discipleship
Grateful for all of you,
A note from Craig: There will be a special opportunity this Sunday, May 4, for the UBC community to contribute to the financial needs associated with his Sabbatical. It is our desire that we can be as generous to Josh during this time as he has been to us. Any contributions to this offering should be seen as something above and beyond your normal tithe.
Study Hall Days
It is that time of year again, and the church will be open from 10am-midnight on Monday and Tuesday (May 5th and 6th) for you to study. We will have snacks and drinks set up in the backside, and our traditional late night pancakes will be at 10pm on Tuesday night. Good luck on finals everyone!
Singo de Mayo
Join us May 5th for a concert featuring soon to be famous Waco band Cheifly Palomino. The show is sure to be awesome and keeping with tradition, Tye will be making tacos! See you there!
Work is Worship 5-2-14
Coffee Makers: Austin Tiffany & Marshall Hinders
Coffee Cleaner Upers: Sarah Joyave & Vince Cooley
Greeters: Jack & Jana Parker
Shut Down Team: Girls
- Sermon: this Sundays sermon will be brought to you by Toph and Mr. Rogers.
- Sunday School: Come check out one of our participatory Easter Sunday School classes
- Senior Sunday if you are graduate of any sort (PhD, masters, bachelor) and have not contacted firstname.lastname@example.org ... please do. we'd like to recognize you Sunday as part of the service.
- Dos de Mayo date night, TONIGHT. 6-9 PM. If you are interested email Michelle@ubcwaco.org
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