When is it? Pastor Meggan’s send-off Sunday will be June 30. She will return to the office Oct. 7 and to worship Oct. 13.
Who will preach and preside and care for the congregation? Vicar Mia Crosthwaite will be with us through July. Retired Pastor John Hergert will be with us every Sunday and one other day each week August through Oct. 6. Vicar Mia and Pastor John will of course both be on call for pastoral emergencies, hospital visits, and funerals.
How is this being paid for? Vicar Mia’s internship is being covered by a Synod Share Fund Grant, a gift from Luther Seminary, and monthly contributions from her home congregation, Shepherd of the Valley, Boise. Pastor John’s compensation, funds for Pastor Meggan’s travel, and honorariums for the congregational renewal activities will be paid for by a grant from the Lilly Foundation.
Why a sabbatical? From the Eastern WA-ID Synod’s compensation guidelines workbook: This time away from the congregation is to renew a pastor’s energies and vision. It is an excellent investment in the congregation’s future. In a sabbatical, the congregation gets many of the benefits of a fresh start without the additional expenses of a new call process and lost momentum frequently experienced in calling a new pastor. It also provides the benefits of a longer-term pastorate in the parish, since studies show that a sabbatical often extends a pastor’s stay within a parish. Usually this time away is after a pastor has been in the parish for four years or longer. By advance budgeting, monies are set aside each year to cover the expenses. During a sabbatical leave, the congregation pays full salary and benefits to the pastor on sabbatical, plus the expense of pastoral supply during the period. Our Synod has a sabbatical policy and our staff will be happy to help you set up a sabbatical policy for your congregation.You may not realize it, but the vacation and sabbatical packages are powerful symbols of love and respect for a pastor and these offerings are well noted during the process of calling a new pastor. They are also powerful symbols of health and vitality for a congregation. Both congregation and pastor benefit by the use of renewal and recreation time.
So Pastor Meggan is not discerning a new call? No! I, Pastor Meggan, love this congregation and want to continue serving in this place. I have several friends in our synod and around the country who were able to stay in their calls longer because of the new energy gained during their sabbaticals.
More questions? I will try to answer them in future Sabbatical Columns.