What is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a designated “time away” from regular work responsibilities. A sabbatical requires a specific plan of study, rest, discernment, skill building, reading, prayer and play.

A sabbatical for UCC pastors is a customary benefit; grounded in Christian scripture and practice. The word sabbatical, comes from the Greek word sabatikos, which means “of the Sabbath,” the day of rest that happens every seventh day. Regular worship on Sundays is one way of keeping the Sabbath.

The book of Genesis makes clear that God values rest – not just inactivity, but special set aside time intended for spiritual, emotional, and physical renewal. Jesus frequently took time away to rest, and invited his disciples to join him.

Sabbatical leave time is often confused with vacation leave. Vacation leave is time off to do whatever the pastor wants to do for several weeks each year. Sabbatical leave is very different.

A sabbatical provides time for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God's life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry. Sabbaticals are connected with the pastor’s sense of call, and vision for the congregation she or he is serving. Sabbaticals are granted after a pastor has served between 5 and 7 years, for a period of 3 to 6 months. A pastor is expected to return for at least one full year of service after completing a sabbatical.

Pastor David will celebrate his 15th anniversary of service with Bethel September 1, 2018. He qualifies for a second sabbatical in 2019. Watch for additional update next week on an exciting opportunity David is exploring with help from the Personnel committee and the Bethel Board.