Today, September 14, marks my first day back after three months of sabbath. I want to take a bit of space here to offer abundant thanks for the privilege and deep blessing of that time away.
My goal for the sabbatical time was to “deepen connections”. The pandemic season of these last 2-1/2 years is one I experienced as difficult isolation at times. The strain of being unable to meaningfully connect with family and friends and places dear to my heart often drained my spirit. In this Sabbath time I wanted nothing more than to spend quality time with people I love in unrushed conversation and spaces, soaking up God’s goodness and rediscovering joy.
From Iowa to Connecticut and Maine to Mississippi, I lingered with loved ones, was awed by the beauty of God’s Creation, and reconnected with people who are integral to my faith journey. And at the close of it all, I attended the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany, where I had the amazing opportunity to observe the wideness of Christ’s global Church engaged in ecumenical ministry together. (More on that another time; it was fascinating!)
- To the Conference staff: the strength and dedication of our talented staff team allowed me to be confident that all would be well during my absence. Many thanks to them for their ongoing hard work and for picking up any ‘extras’ caused by my time away
- To Rev. Rick Wagner, who served as sabbatical supply Conference Minister during this time and provided the necessary glue and steady leadership to help things run smoothly
- To the Board of Directors, who never hesitated in its support of my sabbatical, urged good boundaries to allow for blessed rest, and made it possible for me to attend the World Council of Churches Assembly.
- To all of you for being a Conference that loves and supports its Conference staff and offers a generous sabbatical policy, and for your patience as you’ve awaited my return when questions or concerns arose.
The months ahead will be filled with good ministry and ample opportunities for all of us to deepen our own connections across the life of the Conference. I look forward to seeing or talking with you soon!
Rev. Shari Prestemon