A Pastor’s Perspective 05-31-2022

About 18 months ago it occurred to me that in my son Davis’s final summer before college, I would again be eligible for sabbatical leave. This prospect excited me: the opportunity to cherish and be fully present in those moments with him and with our family! Of course, I didn’t know then what role COVID would continue to play in our lives, but I began to pray for discernment. I also realized that COVID had hijacked Bruce’s first attempt to take a sabbatical. And then John retired. We were now a church in transition between Senior Pastors and still figuring out what church and life would look like on the other side of a pandemic. I continued to pray. Bruce put his sabbatical plans on hold again in order to provide vital leadership and care in absence of a Senior Pastor. I was praying but still felt like I was looking through a really dirty window. I’m eligible, yes, but “Is this the right time, a good time to take a sabbatical?” I kept asking myself. I raised these questions with John before his retirement and invited his prayers. I did the same with Bruce back in the fall.
With a growing “Yes” in my spirit, I brought that and all my questions to Bob Ervin and the Personnel Committee to engage their prayers, wisdom, and care for Snyder and its ministers. Through those conversations in January, with the broad outline of a Sabbatical Plan, and with their affirmation and encouragement, I will take a 9 week sabbatical this summer starting June 26.
I truly appreciate the 7 year rhythm Snyder adopted as part of its sabbatical leave policy. It is a tremendous investment in the life, health, and professional vitality of her ministers. As such, I will focus on family: on my Mom, Dad, my brothers and their families scattered from here to the northern tip of WVa; on soaking up time with Kelly, Sophie, and Davis. I will start with a personal retreat at Sabbath House in Bryson City and will seek other moments of solitude and reflection throughout the summer. I’m going to create…something. I don’t know what shape that will take yet, but I have songs and ideas, a notebook and a pen, and I plan to travel with equipment so that I can record and work on music wherever I am. I invite your prayers as this takes shape. I’d like to spend time with other worship leaders and pastors: iron sharpens iron.
Many thanks also to Will Phillips and Heather Sapp, veteran worship team members who will be serving as Worship Associates in my absence. I treasure your prayers as sabbatical unfolds for me this summer.
See you Sunday!