Dear Members and Friends,
As I’m sure you are aware by now, I will be going on sabbatical directly after Easter and returning just in time for Vacation Bible School in July. Please know that, while our Presbytery “strongly recommends” churches to allow pastors to take a sabbatical during their seventh year of service to a particular church, few churches are as encouraging and empowering as you all are. Many of you have stepped up to make sure that while the pastor is on sabbatical, the church isn’t. The ministries of our church will not only continue, they will flourish.
This sabbatical will not only be a time of renewal for me, but for our church as well. I believe many of you will discover gifts and talents you never even knew you had.
We are blessed to have Rev. Marie Mainard O’Connel on board part-time to help lead worship, moderate session, preside over communion and be a pastoral presence during this time. Marie will also be preaching, as will several members of our congregation who have agreed to fill the pulpit on occasion.
Our worship, Christian education, Seventh Street food pantry, Bible study and all current ministries of the church will continue. There will even be some NEW ministries launched in my time away. Very exciting!
While I am looking forward to this time of rest and renewal, it will be difficult to stay away and let things go on without me. To not check in and make sure everything and everyone is alright. To miss out on all the growing our kids will do in my absence. To be gone for Pentecost and the 4th of July–two of our biggest celebrations. But I truly believe that this time away is crucial to the successful continuation of our ministry together. When I return, you will have a better pastor and a better church. A pastor rested and renewed and a church re-engaged in ministry.
I am thankful for your love, your support, your commitment and your example, and I look forward to returning and continuing the journey with you all.
Rev. Anne Russ