Sabbatical Leave Policy


The following policy was approved by The Session, Church of Hills, at their March 2010 meeting:

Church of the Hills Sabbatical Leave Policy


Sabbatical leave 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. Sabbatical leave 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.

Sabbatical leave can be a time of prayer, rest, study and travel, either at home or abroad. It can provide the needed change of scenery and pace that can help prevent burnout for the pastor of a congregation. Sabbatical leave can also be beneficial for the congregation in that the pastor should  return to the responsibilities of the parish with new energy, spiritual vision and rediscovered zeal for ministry.

Sabbatical Leave is an extension of the Biblical concept of a Sabbath day and a Sabbath period of time for renewal. It is both an act of faith that God will sustain the Pastor through a period of reflection and changed activity and an occasion for recovery and renewal of vital energies.

The Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery of Denver states:

The Committee on Ministry, Presbytery of Denver endorses the concept and practice of sabbatical leave for pastors. The Committee on Ministry highly recommends and encourages each Session and church to establish a Sabbatical Leave Policy for pastors.

Planning and Implementation of the Sabbatical Leave

Personnel Team Responsibilities

The Personnel Team shall form a Sabbatical Support Team made up of interested congregants and the Pastor. The purpose of this team is to:

  • Provide advice and support the Pastor as the sabbatical plan is formulated, communicated to Session and the congregation, and executed.
  • Develop and implement a strategy to communicate to the congregation the nature of the sabbatical, the benefits of the sabbatical to the Pastor and Church of the Hills, and how church affairs will be covered during the Pastor’s absence.
  • Develop a strategy for the Pastor to communicate with the congregation during the sabbatical.
  • Provide advice and support the Pastor after the conclusion of the sabbatical as the Pastor shares details of the leave as well as reflections on its value and benefit with the congregation.

Pastor Responsibilities

  • Develop a plan for the sabbatical in consultation with the Sabbatical Support Team, the Committee on Ministry, and other interested pastors. This program of activity and meditation shall include a detailed description of the plan, the goals to be achieved and the expected outcome(s), together with a personal statement as to why this sabbatical leave would be valuable for both the pastor and the church.
  • Submit the plan to Session at least 6 months prior to the planned commencement of the sabbatical.
  • Seek out grant moneys to assist in funding the sabbatical and the ongoing church activities during the sabbatical.
  • Submit the sabbatical plan at the appropriate time as required by the Committee on Ministry.
  • Assure the Session and the congregation of intent to continue service to the church following the conclusion of the sabbatical.
  • After the conclusion of the sabbatical, share the details and insights discovered during the sabbatical with the congregation.

Session Responsibilities

  • Receive “for review and approval” the Pastor’s proposal for a sabbatical, at least six (6) months in advance of the intended commencement of the sabbatical.
  • Continue terms of call commitments to the minister during sabbatical leave.
  • Consult with and guide other church committees and staff members in providing all church functions during the absence of the Pastor.

Congregation Responsibilities

  • Become informed about the nature and purpose of the sabbatical leave and how both the Pastor and congregation will benefit from it.
  • Engage in prayer for the success of the sabbatical leave, and the well being of the Pastor and the church during the sabbatical time.
  • Enthusiastically support the church by engaging and participating in church activities in preparation for and during the sabbatical leave period.
  • Offer encouragement by word and deed to those who lead the church in the Pastor’s absence.

 Approved by Session March, 2010