Letter to Congregation, April 2010


The following letter was mailed to Church of the Hills members and friends:

April 21, 2010

Dear COTH member/friend, 

“The Sabbath was made for humankind and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28 NRSV

The Sabbath reminds us that life must be renewed.  From the beginning of creation God established times for us to cease our striving and set aside our work in order to renew and recenter our lives.  These times, whether a night of rest, a day of worship each week, or a fallow time every few years, are called sabbaticals. 

The Presbytery of Denver Committee on Ministry endorses and encourages the concept and practice of sabbatical leave for our pastors.  The Personnel Team is pleased to announce that our Session approved a Sabbatical Leave Policy for Pastor Dee during their March meeting.  Dee’s Terms of Call specify a three month sabbatical to be taken during her 5th year at Church of the Hills.  This sabbatical is currently scheduled for the summer of 2011. In preparation for and in support of Dee’s sabbatical, the Personnel Team has commissioned a Sabbatical Support Team which will work with Dee, Session, and the Congregation in planning this important phase in our church life.

The Sabbatical Leave Policy specifies that a sabbatical is a carefully planned period of time in which a pastor is granted leave away from his or her normal ministerial responsibilities in order to spend an extended period of time in study and reflection. Sabbatical leave is not vacation, nor is it only continuing education. A sabbatical can be a needed break from the long hours, high pressure, personal sacrifice, and 24 hour a day, seven day a week nature of pastoral ministry.  Sabbaticals enable the pastor to return to the responsibilities of the parish with new energy, spiritual vision and effectiveness.

Pastor Dee is in the process of planning the topic and scope of her sabbatical time.  She and the Sabbatical Support Team are also in the process of applying for several grants which could provide financial assistance for Dee’s sabbatical and to help cover some expenses for Church of the Hills which may be incurred during Dee’s time away.  Grant award decisions will be made near the end of 2010.

The Sabbatical Support Team, the Personnel Team and Session are beginning to explore exciting options for how worship, pastoral care, education and all church business will be managed while Dee is gone.  This sabbatical will provide a unique opportunity for member and community involvement.  Watch for more information on Dee’s sabbatical in the coming months and find out how you can be involved. 

Please feel free to contact members of the Sabbatical Support Team with any questions.

In Christ’s Name,

The Sabbatical Team       

“Sabbatical leaves provide an extended time of renewal that is not possible through vacations or continuing education events.  Personally, I found a sabbatical leave essential to serving the congregation more creatively and completely.”  Rev. Tom Sheffield, Presbytery Pastor, Denver Presbytery