That’s the question many people ask when they hear that I shall be taking one over these next three months (March, April and May).
As you might guess, the word is derived from ‘Sabbath’, with its background of one period in every seven as a time of rest. The modern idea of a sabbatical began in the Middle Ages when the doctors of the church, who were the university professors, needed one year in every seven to become students again and so refresh their spiritual calling. The idea that the teacher needs to become a student again and that ministers once again need to become simply worshippers is still sound. So a sabbatical is simply a time given every seven years during which the minister is required to become a student and worshipper for the purpose of refreshing spiritual life and calling, and refining and updating professional skills.
A sabbatical is not a holiday, but a time for personal renewal, for formal or informal study, and for professional development. It can provide the needed change of scenery and pace which can help prevent burnout for the pastor of a congregation. The variety of information and skills that the modern minister is required to master or possess in some measure needs periodic updating, and this can best be done away from normal ministerial responsibilities and in a manner that is not possible during the busyness of a typical work year.
I will be around in Faversham for much of the period, but not involved in the day-to-day life of FBC. Instead, I plan to take the opportunity to visit other churches on Sundays to participate in their worship and see what differences there are! I am therefore immensely grateful to all who have expressed their readiness to look after the Sunday services and other responsibilities during the next three months. During this time, any matters should be referred to our Church Secretary or one of the Deacons.
See you in June!