Clergy Renewal - Sabbatical Information
Clergy Renewal Information
On October 9, 2019, Senior Warden Traci Precht sent a message out to the parish announcing that St. Margaret's received a grant to allow Father Tommy to participate in the National Clergy Renewal Program during the summer of 2020. It was postponed one year due to the COVID 19 pandemic. St. Margaret's is one of 150 congregations across the United States, and the only one congregation in Louisiana selected to participate in this competitive grant program, that has been fully funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.
The Clergy Renewal Planning Team has put together some material that you might find helpful about the upcoming Sabbath time for Fr Tommy.
What is a Ministry Sabbatical?
A ministry sabbatical is a time, usually, three months, when ministry leaders and congregations set aside the leader's normal responsibilities for the purpose of rest and renewal toward sustained excellence in ministry. A ministry sabbatical is not an extended vacation, nor is it an academic sabbatical that usually involves extensive study. It is a release from the routine of the call for the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual well-being of the ministry leader.
A Biblical Perspective on Sabbaticals
The word sabbatical is drawn from Sabbath. The Hebrew word for Sabbath means to "close or rest" and is connected with the last day of Creation when God rested. (Genesis 2:3) God both models and commands Sabbath rest for his people. "Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11) Jesus affirmed the importance of rest, saying, "The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27-28) The biblical example of Jesus' own frequent withdrawal to a quiet place to meditate, pray, and be renewed is a model. In His ministry, the constant demands of people led Jesus to step away regularly. See also: Genesis 1 and 2; Exodus 20:8-11; 23:10-12; Leviticus 25:1-7 (Sabbatical Year); 24:8-25 (Year of Jubilee); Psalm 23; and Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
Why is a Sabbatical Important?
Roy M. Oswald, a senior consultant with the Alban Institute, suggests that the rapid change and complexity of congregational life and ministry raises the need for three months of sabbatical rest and renewal every four to seven years. He believes that 20% to 30% of ministry leaders he speaks to are in a state of severe burnout. Another 20% of the same audience is on the way to severe burnout. In 2021 it will have been ten years since Fr Tommy's last sabbatical and his 21st year in ministry. It is also his fifth year at St. Margaret's and sabbatical time is built in his Letter of Agreement when called as our Rector.
Richard Bullock and Bruesehoff in Clergy Renewal: The Alban Guide to Sabbatical Planning suggests the following motivations for considering a ministry sabbatical:
- Continual spiritual growth facilitated by periods of rest and renewal is vital toward being an effective minister.
- Pastoral responsibilities are not contained within normal office hours and regularly involve weekends.
- Rapid changes in parish ministry can increase the likelihood of burnout without periods of rest and renewal.
- Burnout makes ministry and the minister dull, hollow, and uninteresting.
- Clergy renewal also provides the opportunity for congregations to examine their dependency on the ministry leader and to consider expanding the roles of lay leaders.
As part of Fr Tommy's Clergy Renewal from June 1 – August 31, 2021, he will travel to Mexico, San Francisco, and Greece for relaxation, study, and prayer. He will visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the magnificent ruins of the civilization of Teotihuacan, Grace Cathedral and natural wonders in the San Francisco Bay Area (where he lived for nine years), sites in and around Greece, and finish at the home of Mary in Ephesus in Turkey. During his travels, he will be joined by clergy colleagues, friends and family, and will pursue spiritual direction, Spanish enrichment, and discernment.
We will have opportunities to discuss this more in the future before the renewal time starts. During his clergy renewal, you can see Fr Tommy's posts via his Professional Facebook page.
Please let us know if you have any questions about the Clergy Renewal time in 2021.
St Margaret's Clergy Renewal Planning Team
Julie Parrish, Chair
Character & Purpose of the Renewal Program
Sacred Journeying with Mary
“The end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time.” -T.S. Eliot
Life is a sacred and awe-inspiring journey. Connections between the sacred, secular, and natural worlds exist everywhere, if we have the eyes to see. Even if we never leave the same city, we are never in the same place—we are always changing/evolving. It is important to see even familiar places and faces with new eyes.
However, as the poet David Whyte put it, “When your eyes are tired, the world is tired also.”
The parish of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge has been on a journey, for sure. The past three years represent a period of unprecedented growth as we have reoriented to a posture of warm welcome and inclusion, following the way of love, and there is no sign of slowdown. The next few years will be a period of sustained outreach. At the same time, it will be a season of inward focus and restructuring, to enable us to meet our growing mission, as we shift from a family-size church to a pastoral-sized church and beyond. And to be sustainable, we must be able to find portals to stillness and renewal even as we continue moving.
The clergy and congregation renewal program is designed to reflect this movement. Fr Tommy will journey to places that have been important and even sacred in his life, to see them with new eyes, and to find moments of stillness, rest, and centering.
The renewal period will also give the congregation a chance to take a pause from the flurry of activity and the changes (and struggles) of growth that have characterized the past three years. The hope is that the Rector and congregation can meet each other with new eyes and rested and renewed hearts for the mission ahead.
On this journey, Mary will serve as a symbol, guide, and inspiration, in her role as the one who carried the Christ within her on a sacred journey that led to the renewal of the world. The beautiful hymn "Santa María del Camino" ("Come with us to walk the journey, Santa María, come") will be the melody and touchstone of this pilgrimage--sung at the beginning, during, and at the end of the renewal time by the entire congregation.
Who will be our priest and provide pastoral care during the Clergy Renewal time?
The Very Rev. Ron Clingenpeel has agreed to provide pastoral oversight during Fr Tommy's Clergy Renewal. Ron's time will include Sunday services every week with two days of pastoral work weekly. This time will consist of office hours, pastoral care, Wednesday evening services, and meetings with groups (as appropriate, but not Vestry).
A native Nebraskan, Dean Clingenpeel has lived in Louisiana most of his life.After serving churches and campus ministries in Nebraska, Montana and Kansas, Clingenpeel came to New Orleans in 1987 to be the chaplain at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, which serves Tulane and Loyola universities.In 1998, Bishop Charles Jenkins called him to be Canon to the Ordinary, (the assistant to the bishop).In 2002, he was called to be Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Mo.He retired from that position in 2009.
Clingenpeel spent 20 years in ministry to campuses.In 1996, Bishop Brown asked him to take on some other part-time duties helping with the deployment of clergy in the diocese.Since 1998, he as been a consultant for the election of bishops in the Episcopal Church.In retirement he has served as an interim rector, interim camp and conference center director and transitions consultant.
A musician, his band, Father Ron and Friends, have produced two albums in the American folk tradition.They have twice played concerts at St. Margaret’s.He continues to write music, play in the band, and support other musicians.He can sometimes be heard as a DJ on WWOZ radio in New Orleans.He also works for WWOZ at the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Mostly he just enjoys people, hanging about, and playing music.