Back in February, at our annual meeting, Pastor Mike Woods from Prince of Peace, La Crescent, shared some reflections about how his congregation ‘survived’ the two sabbaticals he has received since beginning his years of service there as pastor. To the surprise of many, their giving and attendance increased, their teams functioned well, and although everyone was very happy for his return, they had thrived in his absence because they understood they all would need to step up in his absence. During Pastor Stanton’s absence, there will be no full-time temporary pastor brought in to do his work. Instead, over the twelve Sundays & Wednesdays Pastor Stanton is gone, various supply pastors will be brought in to preach and lead worship with Pastor Karyn. The confirmation classes, faith building blocks and small groups Pastor Stanton teaches will be taught by our own members, all of which have been arranged. Supervision of staff and their day-to-day functions will be covered by the Vision & Leadership team. If the congregation requires an extraordinary amount of visitation or funeral ministry, we have identified and have contingency plans in place with local clergy including hospital chaplain Pastor Mark Carr (our former associate interim in 2011) and diaconal minister Tara Shilts who happens to be a new member here as of this fall! We also have capable Stephen Ministers and companion ministers who stay in touch with those who require special attention in times of crisis or because they are unable to join us at worship.
Sabbatical is a time we provide for our pastors to rest in Christ and be renewed for further ministry here. It is also a time for our congregation to step into the open spaces.
This is the first time First Lutheran has planned for a time of sabbatical, and we hope to clarify any concerns. Keep the questions coming! Feel free to contact any of us on the sabbatical team or, of course, send a note to Pastor Stanton.
Sabbatical Team: Aaron McDonald, Sue Peterson and Chad Schultz