It’s hard for me to believe that the start of this pastoral sabbatical is just around the corner. To the community of Memorial Baptist Church: thank you for the opportunity to step back from the regular work of ministry in order to have time for focused study and renewal. It’s an opportunity I take seriously, and which I pray will be a channel of blessing for my family, our church and our wider community.
The Sabbatical Focus:
As many of you will have heard, I will be seeking to learn about the journeys of people who would describe themselves as having no particular faith or religious identity, as well as those who grew up in a faith background and are no longer connected to that community or to seeing themselves as holding that faith. This of course, covers an amazingly broad spectrum of stories. My hope is to find ways we as followers of Jesus can encourage meaningful spiritual connections and community that addresses their concerns, questions and, indeed, often a sense of calling. I’ve assembled a list of books and an ever-growing list of people to interview along the way.
What I’m really excited about is that I’m not doing this alone. Seven others have agreed to participate in a learning group that will read some of the books on my list, then meet in July and August to share what we are learning, our reactions, and where we see God calling us to engage the people around us in new ways.
What it Means for the Church:
While I’m on Sabbatical – from May 30 through August 11 – the regular ministry and mission of the church continues as it always does during the summer.
The Diaconate will have rotating “on call” contact list in case of emergencies, questions, or to pass on information. If that person is unavailable, there will be another Deacon you can contact. Look on the bulletin board and in the worship bulletin for whom to contact during the week.
The Church office will be open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to noon, with Gabrielle in the office.
Sunday Morning Worship is covered with worship leaders from the church, and guest speakers from the church and the wider ABC family.
A Sabbatical means that I will not be taking on any ordinary pastoral responsibilities during this time; I won’t be in the office during the week, leading worship, attending meetings, making pastoral visits and so on. In the event of a crisis or emergency, the Diaconate will decide if and when to “bring me in” to a situation, as long as I am in town. That said, for much of the summer I will be in town, and you may see me here and there. If you’re doing something fun and want to invite us along, please feel free to do so – as long as I’m available and on track with my studies, we’re up for that kind of thing as we are throughout the year!
What I Ask from the Church Community:
First, simply your prayers. Please pray that God will use this time for the strengthening of His people and the ministry God wants to see unfold and grow in Fond du Lac. Pray that the Holy Spirit will be at work in our learning and listening, so that we can understand and respond in ways that are helpful and that stay centered in what God has done and is doing in Jesus. I will have a prayer sheet on the bulletin board for those who would like to pray more specifically for different parts of this sabbatical.
Second, your engagement. I am humbled and encouraged by how many folks are stepping up to lead and serve during my sabbatical, from Deacons to worship leaders and speakers, to the people who continue to do all the behind the scenes ministry, it is what really makes this possible and healthy for our church. But it really is a community effort – in the midst of all the normal summer activities, please continue to make being an active part of the life of Memorial a priority. Through worship support, participating in events and ministries, and financial stewardship, you all are the ones who will make this time a blessing in the life of the church.
I’ll be sharing updates on how things are going through the lamplighter, but for now, I’m signing off. God’s blessing be with you all as we share this journey of faith!