2017 Sabbatical Planned

by anonymous on March 3, 2016
In collaboration with the Vestry and a newly-formed Sabbatical Committee, the Reverend Mary Vano is planning a sabbatical for the summer of 2017.  The "Frequently Asked Questions" below provide answers from the Sabbatical Committee to help you be informed:
What is a sabbatical?
The word sabbatical has its roots in the biblical concept of Sabbath (“to rest” or “to cease”).  Sabbath keeping is setting aside time that God consecrates and makes holy.

Sabbatical leave is a time for our pastor to shift gears in order to rest, disengage, study, reflect, and travel in order to return to minister among us refreshed and renewed in body, mind, and spirit. (It is not a time for routine work, mid-career assessment, job search, retirement planning, or terminal leave.)
Mary’s letter of agreement with St. Margaret’s specifies that she will take a sabbatical every three to six years.  In June of 2017, Mary will begin her seventh year serving with us.

Sabbatical is more than a vacation from meetings, budgets, sermons, and people in need.  It is a time for Mary to receive spiritual nourishment and a change in perspective, to deepen her relationship with God, herself, and her family – a season of spiritual growth.  This special time will also be a season of growth for the entire congregation.

Do other clergy go on sabbatical?
Yes.  Indeed, Bishop Benfield has strongly encouraged congregations in our diocese to provide full-time priests with regular sabbatical leave.  Locally, the Rev. Scott Walters of Christ Church and the Rev. Danny Schieffler of St. Mark’s have taken sabbaticals in recent years.  They have returned refreshed and revitalized, and these continue to be thriving parishes in our city.

How long will Mary be gone?
The tentative dates have Mary leaving on Monday, May 1st 2017, and returning on August 7th.  Her first Sunday back will be August 13.  She will be gone approximately 14 weeks: 12 weeks of sabbatical and 2 weeks of vacation.

What will Mary be doing on her sabbatical?
Mary is currently discerning a plan for her sabbatical that will include study of the sacred art of the Renaissance, photography lessons, and travel with her family.  She will also spend time in quiet retreat.  With the help of this sabbatical committee, we are in the process of applying for a grant from the Lilly Foundation that may fund some of the classes and travel that will enrich Mary’s experience.

Who will cover Mary’s responsibilities during her absence?
The Rev. Ragan Sutterfield will join the staff of St. Margaret’s as a Curate and assisting priest on July 1st, 2016.  While Mary is away, Ragan will assume pastoral and liturgical leadership, with the help of the vestry and staff.

Who do I call if I have a family or personal crisis?
The Rev. Ragan Sutterfield and our deacon, the Rev. Cindy Fribourgh are available to provide pastoral counseling, to visit the sick and homebound, and to plan for weddings, baptisms, and funerals as needed.  Ragan and Cindy will also utilize our many lay leaders who exercise ministry at St. Margaret’s.

Who will pay for the sabbatical?
We are currently applying for a grant from the Lilly Endowment’s National Clergy Renewal Program.  Otherwise, Mary and Stephen will fund any special activities. Mary will continue to receive her salary from St. Margaret’s during the sabbatical.

Will the parish budget incur any extra expenses for the sabbatical?

Who will administer the parish in Mary’s absence?
Our Senior and Junior Wardens will work closely with the Rev. Ragan Sutterfield and the parish staff to oversee finances, use of the parish facilities, and other ministries and activities.

What if a question/concern arises while Mary is gone?
The vestry will exercise authority to resolve all issues concerning parish life.

Will the church just be in a “holding pattern” while Mary is away?
All of our ministries will continue to flourish while Mary is away, and perhaps new ones will be formed.  Also, it is important to remember that the sabbatical is a two-way process: while Mary is on her journey of renewal, refreshment, and reflection, we will embark on a journey as well.  Mary will provide us with ways that we can join her in her studies for the benefit of our ministry.

Will Mary be in contact with St. Margaret’s during her sabbatical?
An important part of a sabbatical is to make a complete break from things.  In the unlikely event that some extraordinary news absolutely must be communicated to Mary, the Senior Warden and Curate will be able to notify her.

Will Mary’s family go with her?
Mary has set the dates of her sabbatical to begin while Stephen and the boys are still in school, but with the bulk of the time continuing during the summer vacation.  This will allow Mary some time for her individual study and prayer, before embarking on a summer in which she can really focus on and enjoy her family.

How will we get “reacquainted” when Mary returns?
Mary’s first Sunday back will include a brief “welcome back” liturgy during worship, followed by a reception in the Welcome Center.  The sabbatical planning committee will design an opportunity for the sharing of experiences (both Mary’s and the congregation’s), as well as some evaluation.  The Annual Parish Retreat will then be a full day to renew our relationships while Mary shares some of what she learned on sabbatical.

How can I learn more about Mary’s sabbatical?
Please speak with any member of the sabbatical planning committee if you have questions or concerns:
Mr. Rod Toulson
Mr. Skip Cochran
Mr. Al Eckert
Mrs. Jo Gibbons