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What is Renewal Leave, and why take one?

In general, the role of a pastor is one of the most challenging and stressful jobs out there. And while there is much joy in ministering to people in a local church, there is much challenge as well. The depth of relationships that a pastor experiences with their people is unmatched in any other vocation. The challenge is that it can be consuming in its satisfaction.

With the special calling of Christian leaders, comes the challenge of hearing God’s voice, individually and corporately, through a cacophony of other voices clamoring for attention. The concepts of rest and renewal are foundational to healthy pastors and congregations. Ministers need sabbatical/renewal rests so they can minister with new freshness and new vitality. And scheduled sabbatical/renewal leave time serves as a sort of detoxification from endless to-do lists, committee meetings, and demands of pastoral care.

The very idea of sabbatical time is God’s idea and comes from the word shabbat, or sabbath. “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest.” Exodus 34:21 And in Leviticus 25:4 it says, “But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.” In God’s economy not only does He want people to rest, He even has in mind that the land should rest.

Extended rest is the secret to longevity in ministry and maintaining spiritual and mental health. Unlike any other vocation, it is the Christian leader who is in many ways the message and model for the broader Body. If the leader is tired, exhausted, or weary, it is the congregation that stands to suffer. So, in order to provide this rest, congregations are encouraged, with God’s help, to rally together to take care of things while their leader rests, reflects, and refocuses.

The role of the pastor is under pressure from all sides, probably more so now than in any time in history. The stress that accompanies a call to ministry can be debilitating. On average, forty percent of all pastors report experiencing high stress levels at least once a week. Twelve percent report it almost every day. And certainly with the last year and a half related to the pandemic and all that it came with, stress levels have indeed been high.

Renewal Leaves offer pastors a change of pace, a chance to slow their activity, and rest long enough to be strengthened and healed. This is what we hope for, for Pastor Dave – time away to regroup, rest, and refocus.

Specifically, Pastor Dave’s time off in the months of September, October, and November, will be referred to and thought of as Renewal Leave. Why? Because more than anything else, Pastor Dave senses that he needs to be renewed – in relationship with God, himself, and in his role.

The key to this Renewal Leave will be everyone in the congregation working together to continue to grow and strengthen our church.

In spite of all the challenges of the last several year, Wilson is growing and adding to its numbers. As we step toward Pastor Dave’s time away, it is critical that the people of Wilson lean in and commit themselves to handling all that is required to run and grow the church –

reminding ourselves that this is not the role of our pastor, or even just the staff. As Pastor Dave has frequently preached, these are all responsibilities for those in the Body, Christ’s Church.

So, in this way, we are going to encourage everyone at Wilson to collaborate to provide a life-giving and vocation-strengthening gift of three months given to rest, renewal, and refocusing.

Is sabbatical or renewal leave common for pastors to take?

In the United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline, sabbatical leave is recommended for those who’ve served 6 consecutive years at a local church to take up to six months of sabbatical or renewal leave. It is also stated that appointed clergy take one week a year, each year, for study and reflection.

Pastor Dave has been at Wilson UMC now for nine consecutive years. And, during these nine years, Pastor Dave has not taken the yearly study/reflection time. In lieu of his nine years with Wilson, and his need to pause to rest and reflect, Wilson’s Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) has recommended that Pastor Dave take the months of September, October, and November and use them for rest, renewal, and reflection.

Is a Renewal Leave considered a vacation?

While Renewal Leave time is indeed time off, it is not considered vacation time and still allows the same amount of vacation days for the year.

Will Pastor Dave be paid during this time?

Yes he will. As stated in a previous question, sabbatical/renewal leaves are part of the United Methodist Church’s rhythm of care and nurture for their clergy.

It is also worth mentioning that SPRC intends to bless and compensate those who’ve agreed to preach as a way of saying “thank you” for their hard work and preparation.

How long with Pastor Dave be out?

Pastor Dave will be out the months of September, October, and November.

What will Pastor Dave be doing during his renewal leave?

Pastor Dave has submitted a Renewal Leave plan to the Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) that has been approved by both Church Council and the Conference (via the Rev. Tezenlo Thong – District Superintendent of the Peaks/Pikes Peak District of the Mountain Sky Conference).

Aside from his plan to rest and renew, Pastor Dave has a list of books he’d like to read and will also audit a leadership class through Asbury Theological Seminary (they have a satellite campus here in Colorado Springs). He will also meet bi-weekly with his spiritual advisor, and monthly with his Renewal Leave coach.

Who will cover responsibilities during his absence?

The SPRC Committee has coordinated the following in order to cover general operations at Wilson:

Renewal Leave planning team: Courtney Arnstein, Tom Yeakley, Pit Martin, and Richard Beckham will collaborate with the following leaders to cover regular operations of the church:

Dan Usiak – Church Council Chair. Church Council, chaired by Dan Usiak, will handle any strategic or operational issues that require a decision. Generally speaking, Wilson plans to maintain normal operations until Pastor Dave returns.

Jim Harberson – Trustees Chair. Wilson’s Board of Trustees is prepared to address any problems related to the real property of the church. If anything breaks or needs fixing, please contact Jim Harberson.

Courtney Arnstein – SPRC Chair. The Staff Parish Relations Committee will provide staff-related guidance and decision-making and work with staff to ensure they are supported in their work.

Renewal Leave Coach – Cynthia Hagen will be Pastor Dave’s Renewal Leave coach. Cynthia’s role is to check in with Pastor Dave monthly to make sure that the goals of his leave (rest, renewal, refocusing, and reflection) are indeed happening. Cynthia will report monthly to SPRC at their regularly scheduled meetings.

Pastoral Care – Richard and Jennifer Beckham’s. Richard and Jennifer Beckham will be making themselves available to meet with anyone regarding spiritual matters, or if there is an issue of congregational care that needs to be addressed. If for any reason you feel that you need to speak with someone about spiritual matters, please feel free to contact them.

Congregational Events – Pit Martin, Mike Somerville, and Scott Pepi (it’s still possible that we might have a Trunk-or-Treat event)

Finances – Megan Harmon, Finance Chair and Finance Committee members Joanna Harberson and Pamela Flowers. If you have a financial matter that needs addressing, please contact Megan Harmon.

Starting Point Meetings – Lea Ann Brookens. Lea Ann will be conducting our Starting Point (new member class) the first Sunday of each month.

Illnesses and other emergencies – Beckham’s and Mike Somerville. In the event of illness, hospitalization, or death, Rev. Mike Somerville, and the Beckham’s, will be available to respond.

Building & Grounds Needs – as stated above, any issues related to the real property of the church will be handled by The Board of Trustees (contact Jim Harberson)

What happens if a special service needs to be planned?

In the event of illness, hospitalization, or death, Rev. Mike Somerville, and the Beckham’s, will be available to respond.

Who will be preaching while Pastor Dave is on Leave?

September – Tom Yeakley

• September 5 – Engaging with Jesus – The New Life

• September 12 – Established in Our Faith – The Changed Life

• September 19 – Equipped to Serve Others – The Sacrificial Life

• September 26 – Sent into the World – The Missional Life

October

• October 3 – Jason Baxter, Associate Pastor TriLakes UMC

• October 1- Jason Baxter, Associate Pastor TriLakes UMC

• October 10 – Jason Baxter, Associate Pastor TriLakes UMC

• October 24 – Daniel Hiester

• October 31 – Cynthia Hagen

November

• November 7 – Daniel Hiester

• November 14 – Mike Somerville

• November 21 – Mike Somerville

• November 28 – Mike Somerville

Who do I contact for prayer requests?

We will continue to utilize the same email prayer chain system that we’ve been using. If you have a prayer request, email: imartin@wilsonumc.org

Will anyone be in the office if I have questions?

Our volunteer administrative staff will hold the following office schedule:

Monday – no office hours

Tuesday – 9:00 – 12:00 Pamela Flowers

Wednesday – 9:00 – 12:00 Pamela Flowers

Thursday – 9:00 – 12:00 Anna Sanders

Friday – no office hours

What if I want to speak to someone about spiritual matters?

Richard and Jennifer Beckham will be making themselves available to meet with anyone regarding spiritual matters, or if there is an issue of congregational care that needs to be addressed. If for any reason you feel that you need to speak with someone about spiritual matters, please feel free to contact them.

What will communication with Pastor Dave look like during his renewal leave?

We’re asking everyone to refrain from calling, texting, emailing, or any other form of communication (including FaceBook & Instagram messaging), during this time. It will require a team effort from everyone at Wilson, but we want to give him the time he needs for rest and renewal.

What are Tracy’s plans during this time?

For obvious reasons, Pastor Dave will not be worshipping at Wilson during his renewal leave. And, on occasion Tracy will accompany him wherever it is he’s worshipping. Having said that, Tracy will continue to handle her Sunday Children’s Ministry responsibilities, and will be in worship at Wilson when their son, Daniel, is preaching.

SPRC asks that members not ask to have messages or questions passed to Pastor Dave through Tracy.

When is Pastor Dave’s first Sunday back from his leave?

Pastor Dave’s first day back from leave will be Wednesday, December 1. His first Sunday back will be December 5th

How can I help/pitch in while Pastor Dave is on Leave and who do I contact if I want to help?

Wilson UMC
6460 Flying W Ranch Rd
Colorado Springs, CO 80919
Office: 719-598-0407