A letter from Plymouth Council and Pastor Jo on Sabbatical

Dear Plymouth Church,

After nearly six years of ministry at Plymouth, Pastor Jo requested Sabbatical. According to our Call Agreement, Pastor Jo became eligible for up to 3 months of Sabbatical after 5 years of full-time ministry. Council unanimously approved this request.

Pastor Jo’s Sabbatical will begin on May 19 and conclude on September 15.
This time period exceeds three months because Council also approved Pastor Jo’s request to add several weeks of their vacation to the Sabbatical. You can read the details about Sabbatical in our Call Agreement here)

What Is Sabbatical?
A Sabbatical is not to be confused with a vacation or a leave of absence. Instead, it  is a significant time of rest, renewal and refreshment for pastors. According to the UCC, Sabbatical is a time for pastors to nourish their relationship with God, recommit to their call, and provide renewed vision and focus for ministry. Sabbatical leave may include study or a project, but its first goal is reconnecting with one’s sense of vocation through rest, reflection, and prayer.

What will the church do during the Sabbatical? (or Yikes, how are we going to manage without a pastor for several months?)
Council has convened a Sabbatical Task Force to plan for Pastor Jo’s absence. In addition to scheduling guest preachers, this group is working with Pastor Jo to ensure that pastoral care, staff supervision, and other day-to-day pastoral work is covered. The Sabbatical Task Force will also be identifying pastors to cover liturgical planning and crisis support, and reaching out to lay leaders to fill in in a variety of ways. Council will share more details in the coming weeks.

Still have questions?
Mark your calendars! All are encouraged to attend a Sabbatical Q&A Sunday, April 7 after morning worship. You may also reach out to Abigael Huitsing, Chair of Diaconate, with questions.

In the meantime, we encourage you to review this resource from the UCC on Sabbatical for Pastors & Congregations, which provides a helpful framework for the congregation to understand, set expectations, and begin discerning our role during the Sabbatical.
— Shannon White, Moderator

on behalf of Plymouth Church Council

A note from Pastor Jo

I would like to offer a big note of gratitude to everyone for making this sabbatical opportunity possible, especially the members of the sabbatical taskforce. Because a sabbatical is seen as an opportunity to renew the energy and mission of both the minister and the congregation, this will be an important opportunity for all of us to rest and renew. Thanks for making this experience possible, and know that I will miss you! I look forward to coming back to Plymouth on Rally Day, September 15.

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