With our (very) short spring it seems like summer should be a long time away. But, summer is almost upon us and the life is all around us, providing verdant colors and warm nights. I hope that you have time, a special place, or a special trip planned to soak in these coming summer months and be renewed amidst the flourishing creation all around us. Speaking of being renewed, I will be taking the next few months away from church for my very first sabbatical. I will be here for Service Sunday, then I will be gone June 4-August 26. At FCUCC, in the seventh year of service, a pastor becomes eligible to take a Sabbatical of three months in length. Our Employee Handbook defines the purpose of this time away as “a leave of absence for further training to pursue special research or study, engage in writing and travel, or do other activities, which will prepare the pastor for more effective ministry.” Sabbaticals are a time of renewal meant to prepare us Pastors for another season of ministry.
My sabbatical has been designed around re-connecting with God in creation and sharing this love with my family. I have a variety of experiences, which will aid me in meditating, learning, and growing in my awareness of God’s majesty in nature. Additionally, my time away will be to “scout” locations for our new outdoor and wilderness ministry. Another pastor and myself will spend a week in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area canoeing, my family and I will enjoy the Sylvania Wilderness, Amanda and I will backpack the Porcupine Mountains, and my family will live around Park Falls for a number of weeks on a small northern lake. Through these experiences, the purpose of this time is to reconnect and enrich my spiritual life anticipating the output the coming years will require. In order to honor the intention of my sabbatical, I will be disconnecting from FCUCC entirely for these three months. I will not be available or reachable. If you do have a need, we have two gifted and loving pastors to fill this role and an excellent CYF staff to answer questions. If you see me out in public, don’t shy away, but just be aware that in order to honor my sabbatical commitments I will not engage in discussions about church life, no matter how exciting they might be.
I praise God for the exciting and enriching years we have spent in ministry together and look forward to the years that are to come. May God deeply bless your summer and provide for your renewal and the spiritual sustenance needed to carry on in the mission of discipleship.
Grace and Peace, Pastor Nick