November 17, 2014
Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,
The Sabbatical is a common practice in both academia and in the Church. Sometime around the seventh year of service a professor or priest takes time away from normal teaching or work. In the Church priests are expected to make time for either formal or informal study, travel, and some recreation. It is appropriate in most instances for spouses and/or family to participate in some aspects of the Sabbatical. Most importantly the priest should experience something not possible when doing normal work.
Sabbaticals are intended to benefit not only the priest but also the congregation. Upon returning to work the priest will have gained insights of his or her past work. The Sabbatical encourages reflection by the priest regarding parish strengths and weaknesses. It is also important for the priest to consider where and how he or she could lead the congregation in the months and years to come. The priest’s being away also helps the parish consider what life is like without the priest. It is a time of adjustment, growing, and appreciating the person who is either rector or priest in charge. When the priest returns, I recommend a two way conversation of what being away from each other meant. This is an opportunity to develop a vision for future development.
Normally a priest who has served seven years takes a three month Sabbatical. The parish should fund at least half of the expenses. The priest and congregation should plan the Sabbatical a minimum of two years before beginning the time away. My hope is that every cleric serving as priest in charge or as rector will have the opportunity for a Sabbatical. It serves everyone well. With my love and best wishes, I am,
Your brother in Christ,