Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sabbatical

Sabbatical Leave—A sabbatical leave should be allowed for a program of study or travel approved by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Associate members or clergy members in full connection who have been serving in a full-time appointment for six consecutive years, or in a less than full-time appointment equivalent to six consecutive full-time years, from the time of their reception into full or associate membership may be granted a sabbatical leave for up to one year...The appointment to sabbatical leave is to be made by the bishop holding the conference, upon the vote of the annual conference after recommendation by the Board of Ordained Ministry.
                          United Methodist Discipline, par. 351

I am now officially on Sabbatical. 

I am no longer the Senior Pastor of Main Street United Methodist Church, Kernersville. That honor has now been given to my colleague, the Rev. Dr. Mike Gehring. 

So, what am I doing? Just lying around, right?


 By no means! Here's what I've been up to so far: 
  • Preparing to teach theology students at Wesley College in Mwanza, Tanzania. I'm teaching two 30-hour, college-level classes in two weeks. That means teaching 6 hours a day for ten days. The classes I'm teaching are New Testament 1 (Gospels & Acts) and Wesleyan Theology. The challenges of preparing for these classes include...
    • Making sure I'm covering the most important aspects of each topic
    • Making sure I'm covering what the faculty at Wesley College want me to cover
    • Figuring out how to teach all of this in an intensive two-week format
    • Figuring out how to schedule exams and papers in this two-week format
    • Planning learning activities (in addition to my lectures) that will keep students engaged for six whole hours! 
  • Taking extra time to pray.
  • Renewing friendships with old friends who live at Lake Junaluska.
  • Attending worship at Lake J.
  • Spending time with my daughter Mary, who has moved back from Chicago and is working with Lorie's business
  • Spending time with David, Lauren, and James (son, daughter-in-law, and grandson), who live in Asheville.  

In addition, I made a trip to Greensboro to help get my Dad settled in to Camden Place Health and Rehabilitation. 
 
Dad's 90th birthday last year.  Making our grandson wear a Dook T-shirt was one of his gifts.


We're all sad that we've had to take this step with Dad. I personally am sad that it took place right after I moved to Lake Junaluska, three hours away from Greensboro. That being said, the good news about being on Sabbatical is that my schedule is much more flexible. When I lived in Kernersville, 20 minutes away from Mom and Dad, I still didn't see them as often as I would have liked. With this move I have traded geographic proximity for a more flexible schedule, and I hope that will turn out to be a good trade.


The idea was to get a picture of Dad & James wearing those matching T-shirts, but James is not one to sit still.
One more thing I've been up to: cooking and cleaning! Not that I never cooked or cleaned before. And not that I was a sexist, chauvinist husband who looked at certain chores and said, "That's women's work!" But it is true that over my 29 years of pastoral ministry, I was usually out and about all day and most evenings, and Lorie did most of the meal planning and cooking, not because she's female, but because she was the one who worked from home. (As her business grew, we were able to hire a cleaning service to take care of the house.) 

In planning for this Sabbatical, Lorie and I agreed that I would be the chief cook so that she can focus on her work--and hopefully rest a little more--and that we would work together on keeping the house clean. 

And so far, I am really enjoying this! Planning meals, going to the grocery store, serving delicious food to my wife and daughter ...cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping the floor, vacuuming the carpet, etc. After 29 years of pastoral ministry, where the results of what you do are so often unseen and intangible--it's really nice to look at a stack of washed dishes, or a clean floor, or a plate of cooked food and actually see the result of your efforts. 

Several folks have asked me if I'm going to keep updating this blog during my trips to Tanzania and Cambodia.  I will do my best. When I went to Tanzania in late 2013, I managed to post updates fairly regularly. (If you would like to read those, go here and then keep clicking on "Newer Post" down at the bottom.) On this trip, with a heavier load of teaching responsibilities, it might be harder to find time to blog. But I promise I'll try.  And when I do post something, I'll send it out on Twitter, which will also link to my Facebook page.

(By the way, I don't check Facebook on any kind of regular basis, so don't use that to try and get hold of me. Or at least, be prepared to wait before I see your message.)

OK, a few last things...
  • I preached a sermon entitled, "Missionary Dreams" on April 8, which I posted here, that answers a lot of practical questions about what I'm doing. It describes the trips I'm taking, explains my reasons for taking a year off, and lays a biblical foundation for my passion for missions. If you just want answers to the questions, scroll to the bottom. But I hope you'll read the whole thing. 
  • Here's an article about the importance of Sabbath and Sabbaticals. The situation of the pastor who wrote it is a little different from mine, but his theological/biblical points are spot on.  
Thanks to so many of you who have been so supportive as Lorie and I have moved into this new adventure. I am truly grateful for your love and encouragement.

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