I can still remember sitting in the backseat of my family’s blue caravan, driving home from Sunday service, declaring that being a pastor must be the world’s easiest job as he only has to work one day a week – a few hours at that.
Looking back, I now realize how misguided my ten-year-old self’s logic was! So much of a pastor’s work happens beyond the pulpit, and certainly outside of a typical 9-5 work day. Be it a call at midnight about a child injured in an accident, a couple in crisis, or a loved one on their deathbed, a shepherd will always tend to the flock, day or night.
This was certainly the case for me nearly a decade ago, when I confided in Pastor Peter about my struggle with obsessive-compulsive thoughts and fears. Pastor Peter invested himself fully into helping me unpack some of the underlying heart-issues (sin), and equipped me to combat them with biblical truths. He played a key role in getting me through my first pregnancy, where near-paralyzing fears plagued my mind every day. More recently, he helped my husband and I talk through some effective parenting strategies for our two boys.
Yet I am only one of over 500 congregants whom Pastor Peter has committed himself to shepherding — not for selfish gain, but for the heart he has to love God’s people well. Add to that the day-to-day business of running a church, weekday evenings and weekends for leadership meetings, counseling sessions, and trainings…the “TGIF” mentality never really comes into play. I’ll never forget when he shared in an emotional moment several years ago, that his family typically gets his “leftovers”; all of the time and energy poured into GRC and its congregation has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is often time away from his own family. We are incredibly blessed by this dedication, but it’s important to realize that our church’s health is only as healthy as the health of our pastors, and that health requires adequate rest and rejuvenation.
This year, we have a unique opportunity to present a grant application to the Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program, which “seeks to strengthen Christian congregations by providing opportunities for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection. Renewal periods are not vacations, but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for regaining the enthusiasm and creativity for ministry, for discovering what will make the pastor’s heart sing.” Based on GRC’s long-standing pastoral sabbatical policy, Pastor Peter will be eligible for a sabbatical next year, in the summer of 2021. During this time of spiritual, emotional, and physical restoration, Pastor Peter will re-learn the goodness of the Sabbath, taking time to reconnect with his family, and reading and studying God’s words deeply.
We would like to invite you to join us for a town hall meeting this Sunday, 3/15 at 10 am, in the sanctuary. During this gathering, we’ll talk more about Pastor Peter’s anticipated sabbatical and answer any questions you may have about potential funding through the Lilly Endowment.
In the meantime, we ask that Grace Redeemer Church keep this grant application in prayer; God knows what Pastor Peter as well as the GRC community needs, and He is, has been, and will continue to be faithful to His people.
Katelyn has been a member of GRC since 2012.