Pastor's monthly newsletter article for August, 2011 One of the first commandments God gave was to honor the Sabbath. In the first chapter of Genesis God even modeled the importance of Sabbath time by taking a day for rest, after six days of creation. Our Discipleship Habit of weekly worship with God’s people is one of the ways we seek to honor Sabbath at Saint Peter.
Saint Peter also honors God’s call to Sabbath time with a long-standing commitment to provide Sabbatical leave for its Pastors. I was honored to be granted a three-month leave in 1996, and will take a second one this coming Fall (my current letter of call provides for three months every four years).
I will be away from September 1, 2011 through November 30, 2011. My focus during these three months will be on the four Rs: research, reflection, recreation and rest. I’ll be studying a movement of Christians on the east coast who are seeking to experience a faith that is centered around making a difference in the communities where they live (the “Q” movement: www.qideas.com). I will be looking at new models for a staff review process that include not just the staff member, but his or her entire working environment, including institutional support and volunteer participation. And I have some personal goals as well, including banjo lessons, a bit of fishing, and a family trip to Maui to celebrate our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary (we honeymooned in Kauai).
Pastor Dan Hays has agreed to serve as Pastor in my absence. He comes to us, highly recommended by Bishop Bjornberg, and has recently had two very positive calls as Pastor at Victory Lutheran Church and Interim Pastor at the CU Campus Ministry in Boulder. He will lead worship on Sunday mornings, meet regularly with our staff and elected leaders, lead the Wednesday mid-day Bible study, and be available for pastoral support to all of our members. He will be with us approximately half-time, and you’ll be able to find him in the office most Tuesday mornings. You will enjoy meeting and ministering with Pastor Hays, and he is excited to be working with you this Fall.
One of the primary concerns when a Pastor takes a Sabbatical leave is how the congregation will respond in situations that call for pastoral support. We are fortunate at Saint Peter to have a strong group of Stephen Ministers. If you or someone you know should end up in the hospital, or experience a time when it would be helpful to have someone visit with you and pray for you, our Stephen Ministers are ready and willing to do that. Simply call Lynn Sherpe at the Saint Peter office, and she will arrange for someone to meet with you. Pastor Hays will also be available, and I know you will value the support he is able to share with you.
As always, I am grateful to be serving a congregation that understands how helpful Sabbatical leave can be for a pastor’s ministry, and for a congregation’s strength. I returned in the summer of 2006 with a renewed commitment to Saint Peter and a deepened sense of purpose and meaning in my calling. I expect that to happen this year as well.
I hope my time away will also inspire you to discover how to be more intentional about Sabbath time in your own lives. God calls us to this faithfulness, and it can be a great source of strength for us all.
God’s peace to you all,
David J. Risendal, Pastor