According to Evergreen SGV’s policy and procedures handbook, the purpose of a sabbatical study leave is for
1) Rest and relaxation from the rigors of ministry, 2) Spiritual renewal and replenishment,
3) Growth in specific areas of life and ministry and 4) Time to visit and learn from other churches and ministries.
On March 1st, I will begin my first ever three-month sabbatical as a pastor at Evergreen SGV. When I was youth pastor from 1991 to 1997, I left ministry the same year I was eligible for a sabbatical study leave. At Evergreen SGV, a pastor is granted a three-month sabbatical after five years of pastoral ministry. However, I was so burnt out after five plus years of working with teens like Paul Moy, Carly Yoshitani, Adam Noritake and Bethany Chang that I just had to leave ministry in order to retain my sanity. Bahaha!
After leaving, I worked at a homeless shelter for one and a half years and then for 11 ½ years I was self-employed working in the data communications field. In 2009, God called me back to pastoral ministry and I returned on January 1st, 2010. It’s hard to believe but this past January 1st marked my 6th year back in full-time ministry! It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been six years at all. It only feels like 5 years, 11 months and 29 days. He-he. I would have taken a sabbatical after five years but I honestly did not feel like I needed it and there were also some ministry scheduling conflicts.
For my sabbatical, I will be sticking around and will only leave the SGV when I go on a seven-day solitude retreat to Waikiki in Hawaii. That was a joke. It will only be a two-day solitude retreat and I’ll probably go to a site near Mount Hermon. My goals are mainly to study Scripture (I will be focusing in depth on some of the Psalms since I’m already reading through them for 2016), write out my philosophy of ministry, finish reading a list of books on grieving and discipleship, and plow through one major tome (1,200 pages) by John M. Frame. It’s a systematic theology book that I’ve wanted to read for the past two years but have not made it a priority to work my way through it. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “Hmm, that sounds pretty boring.” Or you’re thinking, “What? Kenny reads books?” Ha!
I’ll also be visiting a variety of churches and ministries in the SGV in order to get a better idea of what’s happening in Christian-dom throughout the SGV. If there is a specific church that you’d recommend I attend on a Sunday morning, please email me your suggestion.
So, beginning on March 1st, I won’t be around on Sunday mornings or at the church office during the week until June. I think it’s going to be a little weird for me because for pastors, our work community is also our church community. Therefore, as I leave my work, I also leave my church.
Since I see most of you at church, I probably won’t see a lot of you guys for the next three months. However, if you shop at the Azusa Costco or at the Sam’s Club in El Monte, then there’s a very high possibility I’ll see you. I buy pretty much everything from those two stores: Milk, fruit, bread, veggies, paper goods, meats, office supplies, cleaning supplies, medicines, electronics and pretty much all my clothes. Seriously though, thank you for the opportunity to go on sabbatical and I will miss you guys. God bless and see you three months!