Ministry Leader Sabbatical

Re-Create and Renew!

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In the beginning, God created.  And it was good.  As Christians, we have been called to be co-creators in God's dynamic and life-giving work that continues every day.  I am grateful to be the Senior Pastor at Oak Knoll Lutheran Church, a member of the ELCA, and for the wonderful ways we have and continue to partner in God's life-giving mission.  

We also know from the creation story, that God gave the gift of Sabbath--a time to rest, renew, and re-create.  Sabbath is where the practice of sabbatical comes from.  A sabbatical is a time to stop, cease from the normal day to day, to give space for renewal, new growth, and rejuvenation.

 I am so excited to have this sabbatical opportunity; to grow in new ways, deepen my family relationships, and experience new sights and cultures.  Such is the recipe for new life!

 During my sabbatical, my family will travel to Greece to see where the Apostle Paul preached and where the early church took root and grew. We will also visit London on the way there, seeing Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, and St. Paul's Cathedral.  

 In July, I will travel with my two sons to Montana and to Alberta, Canada, to enjoy the goodness of the northern Rocky Mountains while hiking, camping, and fishing for trout in some of the grandest natural cathedrals that God has created.  In Minnesota, I will visit with other clergy about their ministry and their hopes for the future church at large, to glean best practices, and gain insights that can help us in our ministry at Oak Knoll.  

 Worshipping as a parishioner, focusing on sabbath with my spiritual director, and making the "Christ Walk" (see below reference) a part of my time away will nourish my spirit.  I also plan to spend some time in "cabin country" to experience what so many of my parishioners do each summer.

 Funds raised through WeRaise will go toward my family travels to London, Greece, Montana, and Banff.  If I reach my stretch goal, I will use these funds for a marriage enrichment weekend, a retreat with my spiritual director, and enhanced experiences while in Greece.

 

Big Changes

A clergy sabbatical differs from an academic sabbatical in that its focus is not on research but on the biblical model of Sabbath.  Sabbath is a ceasing from the norm and an attention to one’s relationship with God in all aspects of life.  

As such, it is an opportunity for me to pursue opportunities that will fill me, or fuel me, for the present and future.   It will benefit the congregation by providing me experiences from which new ideas and perspectives can take root, re-energizing me so that I can continue to serve with vitality and vision.

While I am away, Oak Knoll will focus on biblical texts in worship that relate to my travels--the book of Acts, Paul's letters to Greek churches, Creation texts, and Sabbath texts from scripture.

In addition, I invite you to join me in the "Christ Walk, A Spiritual Fitness Program", written by Anna Fitch Courie.  Her book is designed to help individuals improve their physical health while also engaging in spiritual and mental reflection and growth.  For forty days, participants will choose a biblical walking route/challenge that was traveled by a biblical figure. I'm aiming for the Damascus to Caesarea Challenge.

Possibilities include:

  1. The Nazareth Challenge-walking 1.6 miles/day for 40 days.  This is the distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem.
  2. The Jerusalem to Damascus route--walking 3.75 miles/day for 40 days, the same distance Paul walked on his conversion.
  3. The Jerusalem Challenge--2.2 miles/day marking Holy Week, and Jesus journey to the cross.
  4. The Damascus to Caesarea Journey--5 miles/day representing the walks that the disciples took on their missionary journeys.
  5. The Exodus Challenge--9.4 miles/day totaling 375 miles, the distance the Hebrews traveled to the Holy Land.
  • During each walk you will also have a devotion to lead you in reflection and prayer. 
  • Books will be available for purchase before I depart on sabbatical.

 

In September, I will return with new insights, well-rested, and spiritually energized-- ready for the next chapter of our life together at Oak Knoll, seeing that our Lord continues to create and re-create, making all things new!

Timeline

June through August 2017—Ongoing

  • Utilizing the book, “Christ Walk, A 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Program” as a spiritual discipline, I will devote time each day working on mind, body, and spiritual exercises as a daily devotion, taking literal steps to become a healthier person.  I intend to focus on fitness and diet along with contempletive prayer to become a healthier person.
  • Meeting monthly with my spiritual director, I will reflect on the theme "re-create and renew" in prayerful reflection of my sabbatical experience. 
  • Worshiping in other settings, I will both experience worship as a parishioner and also for gain exposure to new forms of worship that may be transferable or adaptable to Oak Knoll.
  • Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It, writes, “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
    In that spirit, I intend to teach my sons to fly fish, using Tenkara fly rods, on Wisconsin, SE Minnesota, Montana, and Canadian trout streams, while immersing ourselves in the natural beauty and grace of God's creation.
  • Reading for pleasure, I will complete at least one book of fiction and two non-fiction books.
  • Visiting with four area pastors about their ministry challenges (what is the cultural landscape?), I will seek to understand how they are working to address challenges to more effectively minister as a church.

 June 2016

Ancient Corinth

  • Travel to London and to Greece with my family.  We will visit historical sites with an eye toward their theological impact on the development and the formation of the Christian faith.  In London we will visit Westminster Abbey, St. Pauls' Cathedral, and the British Museum.  While in Greece, I will explore the origins and impact of Greek thought on the Apostle Paul and the early Christians.  The Greek empire has been a life- long interest of mine and I look forward to growing my knowledge and seeing antiquities and geography of that region of our world.  I also look forward to experiencing Greek culture and a Mediterranean diet.  Sites include Athens, Crete, Corinth, Mycenae, Nafplio, and Delphi.

 

July 2016

Lake Louise

  • My main focus for July is to nurture my father and son relationships with Noah and Sam through a western road trip.

As a pastor working weekends and nights, trips away with my sons have been an infrequent occurence.  By exploring the natural landscapes of our western states with Noah and Sam, we will together experience a setting that connects with, “In the beginning…” .  We plan to camp in Glacier and Banff for two weeks, to see the northern Rockies and to witness the signs of God's creative hand in the dramatic peaks, pristine lakes, glaciers, and cool streams.

Psalm 90:2 "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."

 

August 2016

  • Explore Northern Minnesota with family:  plan to spend time up north, to experience cabin culture and see where many of my parishioners spend their summers.  Whether this means borrowing a friend's cabin or renting one, I'm eager to see what makes MN/WI cabin culture uniquely upper midwest?  Where does faith and spirituality enter into this experience?  What is it like to be "the church" in cabin country?

Stretch Goals

Stretch Goal #1 $9,000

I'd like to hire guides at sites of Greek antiquity.  The stretch goal funding would allow that.

A weekend retreat away with Suzanne to focus on marriage enrichment.

A retreat with my spiritual director, praying, reflecting, and discerning God's movement through the sabbatical experience.

I'd also like to purchase a sport watch to track my fitness for the Christ Walk.

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