We have been blessed for nearly seven years to have Pastor Jon Heeringa ministering in our midst, equipping us for ministry through preaching, leadership, teaching and pastoral care. Week in and week out, he gives his time and energy to helping us become a vibrantly growing church mobilized for ministry.
Being a pastor comes with particular challenges, especially emotionally and spiritually, and so it is good for those in ministry to take periods of intentional rest every so often. Fortunately, our denomination and our church value rest for our pastors, and enable clergy to take sabbaticals. Sabbatical leave is included in our pastors’ terms of call, as required by our denomination, ECO. Pastors at First Presbyterian Church can take a sabbatical after six years of ministry and then every seven years thereafter by our own policy.
Jon is now beyond that six-year mark, and so Session has urged him to engage in a sabbatical. During the months of May, June and July, Jon will do just that.
What will Jon do while he’s away?
Jon’s sabbatical will serve as a time of spiritual rejuvenation through Bible study, prayer and reflection. It will provide a break from the continuous responsibilities of a full-time pastor who is often called upon at all hours to deal with difficult issues. It will also allow for the opportunity to incorporate educational activities that cannot fit into a normal work schedule.
Most importantly, perhaps, Jon’s sabbatical will allow him focused time with Pam and the boys. Jon’s ministry sometimes means missing out on family time, so we see this sabbatical as a gift to his family, as well.
A rest and a reward
During the past seven years of ministry, Jon has helped our church navigate its gracious dismissal from our previous denomination and our entrance into ECO, our new denomination; he has helped us develop our mission and vision statements; he has managed a number of staff changes; and of course he has been our primary preacher of the word, no small task in itself. Jon’s sabbatical, then, is also our way to reward his faithful service among us and give him energy for a vibrant future.
Filling in while Jon is gone
Jon and Session have developed a plan for his sabbatical so that preaching, leadership and pastoral care are covered during his absence. Our associate pastors and commissioned lay pastors will help fill in some of the gaps. And you, our covenant partners, also are part of this plan: We are all the church, and it’s up to all of us – not just our pastors – to do the work of ministry.
How you can show your love for Jon
Another way covenant partners can be part of Jon’s sabbatical is through making a special offering to fund some of Jon’s intended travels, trips that will provide missions work, spiritual enrichment and time with Pam, Ian and Eric. You can show your love and appreciation to Jon by making a donation toward this use by marking “sabbatical fund” on your check. To help Jon prepare, it would be helpful to have donations toward this use turned in to the church by March 1.