April 10, 2023
Dear Parallel Church Family,
It is an absolute honor to serve as your pastor! I desire to lead and pastor out of a place of rest and refreshment, and I want to continue to be a pastor that serves out of a “full tank.” Therefore, Joy-Lynn and I will be taking a sabbatical from April 10 – September 3, 2023. Many have asked about this, and so I’m writing to let you know why we are doing this and what a Sabbatical is all about.
What Is a Sabbatical or Pastoral Spiritual Renewal?
First of all, the word “sabbatical” comes from the biblical word, “Sabbath.” The keeping of the Sabbath originates in God Himself. “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done” (Genesis 2:2-3).
The word Sabbath means “to cease” or “to rest.” The Bible lists three Sabbath-keeping practices:
- The Sabbath Day, as a weekly observance, is set aside as a day of rest in order to renew people in body, mind and spirit. (Exodus 20:8-10)
- The Sabbath Year occurs every seven years when all crop-bearing land would be allowed to lie fallow so the earth could rest and be replenished for future harvests. (Exodus 23:10-11)
- The Year of Jubilee to be celebrated every 50 years with no harvest or rent, but instead, debt forgiveness, restoration and the making of offerings.
So the keeping of Sabbath – ceasing and resting, renewing and refilling – are part of the Christian rhythm of work and play, of production and reflection, of giving out and taking in.
Jesus taught these rhythms to His disciples: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:28-30 Msg)
The writer of Hebrews made it clear that the Sabbath, even though it was part of the fulfilled law, was to continue as a practice for the New Testament believers: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11)
CEASING AND RESTING
What Does a Sabbatical Look Like?
A sabbatical rest will be a time for Joy-Lynn and myself to disengage from 26 years of senior pastoral ministry, (12 years in Lethbridge) to cease from the usual routine of sermon preparation and preaching, meetings, counseling, weddings, funerals, the administration of day to day church affairs and the daily shepherding of people.
It is a time for:
- Rest, reflection, and evaluation.
- Getting recharged by quality time in God’s Word and other inspirational reading.
- Renewed focus and vision for Parallel Church.
- Dreaming dreams and receiving vision from God.
It is NOT considered to be a time of…
- Extended vacation.
- Sick leave.
- Doing things that distract from the central purpose of rest and renewal.
RENEWING AND REFILLING
What are our goals for this time?
- REST: To get away, disconnect and rest from ministry for a period of time.
- RECONNECT: To go to another level of intentional spiritual formation through reading, prayer and seeking spiritual direction.
- REFRESH: To consider what expanded ministry might look like for Parallel Church.
QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE…
Where did this idea come from?
In the summer of 2022, I came back from vacation without feeling refreshed. I shared my concern over this strange occurrence with my wife, who suggested I should talk to a pastor/mentor about it to see if I had any reason to be concerned. My pastor friend recommended I meet with a counselor who focuses on church leaders. He gave me her name and I began seeing her in the fall of 2022. She was the first to bring up the idea of a sabbatical. To be honest, my first response was very negative. I had never seen any pastor do a sabbatical well and its effects, in my mind, were only negative. My counselor challenged me to begin researching Sabbath and Sabbaticals more thoroughly. And so I did. I was very surprised to receive so much revelation about Sabbath and Sabbaticals. I realized I had no idea what it really meant and even though I didn’t feel a desperate need to take one, I began to feel a strong pull from God, almost as an invitation, to set aside a period of time to focus on deepening my relationship with Him and with my family.
So, I approached our Board of Directors with the idea in January of 2023. They were very supportive and encouraging and unanimously approved of me and Joy-Lynn taking a Sabbatical.
Besides the Lord bringing this revelation to us at this time, the Board and I feel that our church has never been stronger than we are right now. I read a quote from some of my research that said, “Sabbaticals are for healthy pastors and healthy churches.” The Board and I feel that there is a broad enough ministry team to sustain and actually thrive while Joy-Lynn and I are gone. We feel our church is primed and ready for this season and we feel God’s pull to deepen our relationship with Him. We also feel that after 26 years of continual service as Lead Pastors of local churches, that the timing is perfect for this Sabbatical.
How long will we be gone?
April 10th to September 3rd.
Will Joy-Lynn be on Sabbatical with Pastor Kelly?
Who will cover Pastor’s responsibilities?
Preaching – We will have a mix of our Campus Pastors and Teaching Team. We have already planned out the series and many of the creative elements and are excited about what is to come. We are putting intentional effort into making sure that you will receive quality preaching each and every week.
Day-to-Day Operations – Our Admin Team of Mitch Seeley, Pastor Geoff Heth, and Heidi Brotherston, along with our amazing Campus Pastors and church staff, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the church.
Pastoral Care – Pastor Ralph and Cindy Molyneux and our Parallel Care Team, along with our Campus Pastors, are already in place to do counseling, weddings, funerals, hospital visits, etc
The Board of Directors will continue to meet during our sabbatical and will provide governance oversight of all of our ministries: The Campuses; MyCityCare; Not4Sale; and Agape Daycare and ECS.
Will Parallel be in a “holding pattern” while we are away?
Absolutely Not! All of our ministries will continue as usual while we are away, and perhaps even new ones will begin! It is important to remember that the Pastoral Spiritual Renewal is a two-way process: while we are on our journey of sabbatical rest, renewal, discernment and reflection, Parallel will embark on a journey as well – embracing the occasion to strengthen the team and ministries as well.
Will Pastor Kelly and Joy-Lynn be in contact with us while they are on sabbatical?
An important part of this process is for Joy-Lynn and myself to extricate ourselves from the day-to-day operations of the church. If we are needed to be contacted for an extraordinary emergency, Mitch Seeley, on behalf of the staff, will be the one contacting us. We love you all, but we have been counseled, and believe it is wise to focus on rest and renewal in this season. We ask that you kindly honor this sabbatical rest. We are already excited and full of expectations of coming back and loving on all of you!
If you have any questions, concerns or words of encouragement, please email them to [email protected].
We are confident that Parallel Church will be stronger and healthier because of this sabbatical. It is an awesome opportunity for us as a body of believers to come alongside one another and our community.
We love you all!