In September 2017, we adopted the Design for the Christian Church of Villa Park. In this document we affirmed a deeply spiritual and relational way we would minister together. One part of our renewed understanding of ministry was affirming that God asks us to take times of rest from our work to concentrate more fully on God and to hear God’s voice anew. We ask leaders to take a sabbatical. To date, four of our leaders have completed a sabbatical and I see how refreshed and renewed for ministry they are when they return.
Beginning April 24, I will join these leaders in experiencing what it is to take a rest, a sabbatical, from the work of the church. I will spend three months resting, reflecting, praying, and learning. Unlike our church leaders, I will be gone from worship as well as resting from my leadership roles. My family and I will be taking time to visit other congregations and travel on the weekends. I know we will miss worshiping with you while we are gone, but I am also sure that we will return open to you and the Spirit in new ways.
During my sabbatical I will travel and enjoy unstructured time around home. Early in my time I will be attending my last Bethany Fellows retreat. This program has mentored me for the last 4 years, has helped me grow as a pastor and a person. It given me space for rest and rejuvenation in a life of pastoring and raising a small child. It seems appropriate that my last Bethany Fellows will be part of moving deeply into my sabbatical.
I also intend to take time to do a lot of reading. Much of it will just be for the joy I have in reading, but I will also focus on some learning that will speak to our shared life of faith.
While I am away, we will be joined by wonderful preachers. On April 28, Amanda Prorak will bring her music and message to us. Calvin Bloesch will worship us May 5 through June 9. Jerrianne Iseley will worship with us June 16 through July 21. Our congregation’s leaders will be stepping up to do most of the things that I do on a regular basis. The elders will be present for pastoral care needs. Others will handle communicating with you and the broader community as well as less visible tasks. We are the body of Christ together and that continues even when one of us steps away for a time. You are all ministers together.