We have been travelling together for the past five years, and I am so grateful for all that I have learned and the people in this community that I have served in ministry beside. We have been through so much together and learned about love, care, worship, intention, transition, change, grief, celebration. I will be taking a pause from all of this to pray, rest, reset and renew my commitment to God, the church and my call. I cannot thank you enough for your support.
Setting Out on the Road: An Excerpt
‘Setting out is not covering miles of land or sea, or travelling faster than the speed of sound. It is first and foremost opening ourselves to other people, trying to get to know them, going out to meet them.
Opening ourselves to ideas, including those with which we disagree, this is what the good traveller should do. Happy are they who understand the words, ‘If you disagree with me, you have something to give me.’
If those who are with you always agree with you before you open your mouth, they are not companions but shadows. When disagreement is not a form of systematic blocking, when it rises from a different vision, it can only enrich us.
It is possible to travel alone, but the good traveller knows that the journey is human life and life needs company. ‘Companion’ means one who eats the same bread. Happy are they who feel they are always on the road and that everyone they meet is their chosen companion. Good travellers take care of their weary companions. They guess when they lose heart. They take them as they find them, listen to them. Intelligently, gently, above all lovingly, they encourage them to go on and recover their joy of the journey.”
Dom Helder Camara, The Desert is Fertile (1974. p.15).
Some of you may be wondering what this journey looks like for you while I’m on my three-month sabbatical beginning January 24. Rest assured we have a detailed plan for coverage and support:
James Aitchison will move to 40 hours/week as the primary lead on Worship and Pastoral Care.
Jason Locke will serve on the Emergency Response Team.
Don Hunter will be Acting Chair of Trustees.
Amy Crawford (VAM) has been designated to attend council meetings representing the denomination during the sabbatical.
M&P approved supervision changes during my sabbatical:
James Aitchison – accountable to M&P, working closely with congregation
Jason Locke – accountable to M&P, working closely with council
Laurie Lyle – supervises Leslee Armstrong, Lorraine Fait and Randee Marquez
Cynthia Smithers – accountable to M&P, weekly faith formation supervision by Amy Crawford
Role of M&P
While I am away, M&P representatives will be checking in regularly with their designated staff member(s) at designated times:
Dave Allen – Laurie Lyle
Joan Cotton – Jason Locke
John Page – Lorraine Fait and Rev. Maya Landell
Beth Pollock – James Aitchison and Cynthia Smithers
United Church of Canada Policy on Sabbatical Leave
Here are pieces of the United Church of Canada policy that may be of interest:
When ministry personnel take a sabbatical, communities of faith benefit from the opportunity to reflect on their mission and ministry and experience different gifts of lay leadership. The sabbatical offers the community of faith a minister who returns with new energy and clarity about the tasks at hand.
1.The United Church of Canada policy stipulates that every pastoral charge provide a paid sabbatical of at least three months to members of the order of ministry and recognized designated lay ministers of The United Church of Canada who have completed at least five years of service in one call or appointment.
2. Provision for a sabbatical is to be included in the terms of the call or appointment.
3. The sabbatical is in addition to the minister’s vacation time and regular study leave for the year in which the sabbatical is taken.
4. Sabbatical leave may be taken in conjunction with the vacation time, continuing education, or additional unpaid leave of absence.
10. After the sabbatical, the ministry personnel must provide brief written and/or oral reports to the Ministry and Personnel Committee and to the governing body.
11. Ministry personnel taking a sabbatical and the pastoral charge are expected to continue their pastoral relationship for at least one year following the conclusion of the sabbatical.
12. During the sabbatical time, the pastoral charge pays the ministry personnel’s regular salary (or provides the use of a manse) and makes the regular payments to The United Church of Canada for health and pension plans, the Employee Assistance Program, and Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance, as of the day before the start of the sabbatical.
Things will be different when I’m away and when I return. We both will be changed. I am intentionally returning at the start of the Week of Guided Prayer, which is themed “Living in God’s Time.” I invite you to join James and me in a week of prayer together as a community as we begin our next chapter of ministry. Mark it in your calendar now: May 1 to 7, 2022.
Between now and then, listen for God’s call, make room for Sabbath rest, hold the journey and each other in Christ’s light.
Blessings and peace,
P.S. I will see you for one more Sunday and communion.
Even a frozen river has a pathway and a destination.