Sabbatical

Sabbatical

A message from Board chair Richard Rolke:

It will catch some of you by surprise, as it did me, but we have an important passage in Trinity’s history to acknowledge.

It has been five years since Jeff joined us as our minister. Through his leadership, our congregation has tackled some significant issues and looked positively towards the future, while he has also led us on an evolving and fulfilling faith journey.

On behalf of the board and congregation, I would like to thank Jeff, and Don, for their contributions to the life of Trinity.

Now under United Church of Canada policy, ministers who have served a charge for five years are eligible for sabbatical. Ministers also have time designated for ongoing education.

As a result, four months are being set aside for Jeff’s sabbatical and education. His last service will be May 22 and he will return at the end of September. Much of the sabbatical period will be dedicated to Jeff’s education and specifically his thesis.

There may be some anxiety about us being without Jeff for four months, but please be assured that significant planning has gone into ensuring a smooth transition and a continuation of activities here. These efforts have also been reflected in the 2016 budget.

Specifically, John Burton will take on the role of minister during the four months. He will lead us in worship, provide a presence in the office and take part in governance. As John is no stranger to us, I am very confident in the leadership he will provide.

On a day-to-day basis, administrative assistant Jillian Thompson will be responsible for many of the administrative duties, including staff support. Once again, I have the utmost confidence in Jillian’s ability to take on this role.

It should also be noted that your board will continue to meet and address matters of interest to all of us. I will make myself available to anyone wanting to reach out.

More information on the sabbatical process is available in a hand-out.

In closing, I want to thank Jeff again for his leadership over the past five years and all of us wish you well on the educational adventure that awaits you over those four months. We look forward to reuniting with you in September.


Some frequently asked questions

What is a sabbatical?

The essence of sabbatical is rooted in the biblical practice of the Sabbath day described in the creation story. Jesus kept this practice when he took time in his ministry for renewal.

In the context of ministry, sabbatical time is for learning through reflection, revitalization, and recreation. It may include study, spiritual retreat, and rest. When ministry personnel take a sabbatical, congregations benefit from the opportunity to reflect on their mission and ministry and experience different gifts of leadership. The sabbatical offers the congregation a minister who returns with new energy and clarity about the tasks at hand.

In the United Church, sabbatical leave is a paid leave of absence for at least three consecutive months. It is available to ministry personnel each time they have completed five years of continuous service in the same pastoral relationship. Continuing education leave and/or vacation leave may be combined with sabbatical leave.

What are the dates for Jeff’s sabbatical?

Jeff’s sabbatical will begin Sunday, May 29th. His last Sunday leading worship will be Sunday, May 22nd. Jeff will combine some continuing education time with the sabbatical leave, for a total leave period of four months. Jeff is scheduled to return to his normal duties at Trinity in late September.

Will Jeff attend worship at Trinity during the sabbatical?

No. In order for the sabbatical to be effective, it’s important for the minister and the congregation to disengage for the period of the sabbatical leave. Jeff will keep the congregation in his prayers, and asks that we keep him in ours.

Who will fill in for our Lead Minister during the sabbatical?

The Board has put together a plan for coverage during Jeff’s absence. Here is a list of key roles and responsibilities, and who will cover them:

  • John Burton will serve as ministry personnel during the sabbatical, jointly providing approximately half-time coverage of Jeff’s workload. John will lead worship each week, maintain some office hours, and attend meetings as needed.
  • Jillian Thompson, our Administrative Assistant, will be responsible for Jeff’s day-to-day administrative duties. Jillian will work the equivalent of one extra day a week. Jillian will be responsible for all of Jeff’s correspondence and messages. She will be the central communication hub between the congregation, teams, committees, and the Board, and our sabbatical ministers, John and Heather Burton. If you have a question, ask Jillian!
  • Richard Rolke and the Trinity Board will continue their important leadership role throughout the sabbatical. Richard and the Board continue to be available to answer questions and provide guidance, and to ensure that the ministry of Trinity continues to hum along during the sabbatical period.

Other questions?

If you have any other questions about the sabbatical, please contact Jillian in the Church Office.