In agriculture, farmers will occasionally allow a field to lie fallow or go unplanted for a season. During this time the soil can “rest” and regain nutrients that will increase its fertility for future crops. In October, our District Superintendent, the Rev. Sherril Clontz and our Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, chaired by Rachel Townsend, approved a renewal leave for me. This is a time for my mind to lie fallow, for me to rest and regain some nutrients to continue my ministry appointment at WUMC. Our Book of Discipline allows for pastors to take such a leave after 6 years in an appointment. I’m in my 10th year at Woodlawn, and my 25th year of ordained ministry.
The renewal leave will be 5 weeks, January 17 – February 21st. During this time, life at WUMC will go on as usual, with a couple of exceptions. There will be different preachers in the pulpit – probably not a new one each week, but at least 3 different ones. This will give you the opportunity to hear a different voice who will bring a different perspective. There will also be some things here and there that will need to be done by you. The Church Council is encouraging this renewal leave; and has pledged their support. I feel the congregation of WUMC will make sure we are still giving our best to good – I certainly don’t control that.
On my leave, I will be reading, working on meditation skills and attending a leadership retreat. I’ll spend more time with Eliza who will graduate from high school in May. And I’ll be back before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I appreciate being at a church that cares about my self-care.
I hope you also will examine where you need to rest and care for your self better. Is there an activity that you need to (and can) lie fallow for a season? The past 18 months have been a doozie and we are still feeling the effects. In what part of your life do you need renewal?