Hello Beloved Sanctuary – 

Grace and Peace to you from the Trinity of God our Father, Jesus our savior and Holy Spirit our counselor. I’m writing to share more details about the sabbatical experience for myself and provide a few invitations to the congregation. My sabbatical will begin Mon., June 5, and I will return Sun., Sept. 10, to worship with you!

This sabbatical is an opportunity to reflect and simply be renewed as a beloved disciple apart from the responsibilities of pastoral ministry. 

The word sabbatical comes from the root word sabbath, which is a day to stop, rest, play and delight in the goodness of God. My primary question is, “How can regular rhythms of sabbath restore my soul while serving in this pastoral work?” I’ve been reading several books on sabbath to stir my thinking. Eugene Peterson writes, 

“Sabbatical years are the biblically based provision for restoration. When a 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 are also given a sabbatical – time apart for the recovery of spiritual and creative energies.”

I’ve felt a need for a sabbatical for about five years now. I started full-time ministry in 2005 at Heritage Church in Westerville and then we started Sanctuary in 2011. The years of service were taking a toll on me. Sanctuary applied for the Lilly grant in 2018, but we were not awarded. Graciously, the elder team and the church provided me with six weeks of extended time away – we called it a sabitical because it was an itty bitty sabbatical. 

Since that time away, Sanctuary has moved into a more secure building location, added staff, navigated a global pandemic, and seen a significant increase in attendance. The Lord provided tremendous grace and energy to shepherd and lead through those changes, for which I am grateful.

But now there seems to be a low level of energy, creativity, and margin to joyfully and faithfully serve without a true sabbatical period. I sense the need to change the pace of ministry and to reconnect with God simply as a beloved son. 

I can’t even begin to describe the moment Shalla and I got the text from Jason Chang that simply said, “We got it!” followed by a clarification that we received the Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Foundation.

Sanctuary Columbus is just one of 168 churches across the country that was awarded this gift. The grant covers the cost of expenses for traveling and activities for my family, as well as activities and support for the church. My hope is that we will also discover new rhythms of sabbath.

Our staff and elder team will share more information about activities planned for the summer. I’d like to leave you with this invitation to do these three things this summer:

  1. Follow along with Sunday worship regularly to be filled with the presence of God and community with others.
  2. Serve just one Sunday in RCK or Connections to relieve some of our dedicated volunteers. 
  3. Invite someone new to coffee, share a meal, or go for walk to hear their God story. 

I will close with a few words from author Lisa Colón DeLay, who will preach at Sanctuary June 11 from her book, "The Wild Land Within."

She writes, “The practice of checking in with ourselves–regularly noticing how we feel–actually rewires our brains. This practice helps us reach a more thorough and regularly attuned form of consciousness and sensing. And a more neurologically integrated brain is more resilient.”

Sabbath is to the soul what water is to a dry and thirsty body – it is restoring. May we all learn the practice of regularly checking in with ourselves to build a resilient relationship with God, our connection with others and our vocations. 

Practicing a better way,