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About Pastor Louisa’s Sabbatical

May 17 – August 15 2021

In 2020, our Session approved a 12-week sabbatical for Associate Pastor Louisa Umphres, a well-earned period of rest and reinvigoration. The onset of Covid-19 delayed that sabbatical, which Louisa now will take from May 17 to August 15, 2021. The PC(USA) General Assembly recommends a three-month sabbatical for teaching elders who have served a congregation for six years. After being blessed with Louisa’s ministry for almost nine years, we join Louisa in viewing her sabbatical as an amazing opportunity for spiritual renewal and growth.

Louisa, Will, Hugh and Pip will be away from our Congregation during her sabbatical. Her  plans include:

  • Book-ending her sabbatical with retreats at at “The Springs”  in Indiana
  • A weeklong art and spirituality workshop at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico
  • Intentional study and writing time
  • Regular spiritual direction
  • Traveling with her family through Texas, New Mexico and Colorado

We have been through a lot together during the last 15 months. The demands and restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic have forced us to work together to find new ways to worship, learn and serve. Louisa has been at the center of those plans, and she has done an amazing job. We are delighted that she still has this opportunity and are committed to supporting her in any way we can.

Sabbatical FAQs 

What is the purpose of a sabbatical? Louisa will use the time to rest, write, renew and recharge her spiritual batteries. As a congregation, we will take the opportunity to reflect on Louisa’s responsibilities, take stock of the scope of her job and discover opportunities to contribute to Lakeside’s mission. This is shared work that will yield shared benefits. 

What is the financial impact of a sabbatical? There is minimal financial impact. Louisa will be paid during her sabbatical, as specified by General Assembly guidelines, and her benefits will continue. We will incur some minor costs for additional help to manage pulpit supply. We do not anticipate a substantial impact on the 2021 budget.    

What is the benefit to Lakeside of Louisa’s sabbatical? The entire church community will benefit from a teaching elder who has taken time to reflect on her ministry. Nancy and various church committees are considering ways that Lakeside’s congregation could undergo a similar reflection during the sabbatical period. We will learn more about ourselves and how we can spread the love of Jesus throughout our congregation and our community, as well as how much we value Louisa’s thoughtful and energetic ministry at Lakeside.

How will we cover Louisa’s responsibilities during her sabbatical? We are fortunate that the sabbatical will come during the summer months, where there is less active programming. We will continue to navigate what church activity looks like as we emerge from pandemic restrictions. Through Louisa’s advanced planning and leadership, existing staff, members of various committees and partner churches will cover nearly all of Louisa’s responsibilities during the summer months.

Has Pastor Nancy Ross-Zimmerman taken a sabbatical? Nancy has taken two sabbaticals during her career in ministry.

Is there a provision for sabbaticals in Lakeside’s Personnel Policies? Not currently. A provision for a sabbatical every seven years was negotiated into Nancy’s agreement when she was called to Lakeside. We are currently revising our Personnel Policies to allow for sabbaticals every seven years for teaching elders. This follows the recommendation of the PC(USA) and the practice of most Presbyterian churches our size. 

What will be Louisa’s main activities during her sabbatical? Louisa is completing a doctoral degree in Ministry at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is looking forward to time dedicated to reading and reflection. There is no formal tracking of Louisa’s activities during the sabbatical. The Session is supportive of these efforts because it can reinvigorate both Louisa and the congregation. 

Will Louisa return to Lakeside after the sabbatical? Yes. Sabbatical guidelines call for teaching elders to return to their congregations for a period of at least four times the tenure of the sabbatical. Louisa has every intention of returning to Lakeside and using the sabbatical to inform and enhance her ministry.

Will Louisa’s family plan to be active at Lakeside during her sabbatical? This sabbatical will be for the Umphres family as a whole. They will spend much of their time out of the area and look forward to the opportunity to embrace different rhythms together. Even so, don’t be surprised if you see them pop up here or there. Raising two children takes a community, after all, and they’ve been starved of their village for most of the past 15 months!

Will Louisa produce a report on her sabbatical for the Session when she returns? The guidelines are clear that teaching elders on sabbatical are not required to “produce” anything from their time away. However, Louisa is looking forward to sharing her ideas and insights with the church family on her return, and we look forward to sharing in her progress. 

Who will preach for Louisa during her sabbatical? Nancy will cover the bulk of preaching responsibilities during the sabbatical period. She has also arranged the help of some colleagues in the area to fill the pulpit – a great opportunity to hear new voices!

Are sabbaticals for teaching elders common in the Presbyterian Church (USA)? Yes, they are becoming common practice among PC (USA) congregations, particularly those of similar size to Lakeside. During the search that resulted in Nancy’s call to Lakeside, the Pastor Nominating Committee discovered that nearly every candidate had taken sabbaticals or had access to sabbaticals in other congregations.

Will Session be tracking Louisa’s progress during the sabbatical? No. There is no requirement to track Louisa’s regular activity during the sabbatical. We do not anticipate being in regular contact with Louisa during the summer. Of course, we look forward to sharing in Louisa’s learning when she returns.

Is the sabbatical an indication that Lakeside is a healthy congregation? Yes. Our ability to offer Louisa a sabbatical and our willingness to share in her rest and reinvigoration is something that healthy congregations share. We have been through a significant transition during the last several years and have adjusted on the fly to Covid-19, but we are not standing still. We are supporting both of our teaching elders as they continue to learn and enhance their own ministries. The sabbatical is a good thing for Louisa – and for us.

Will Lakeside offer group opportunities to reflect and renew ourselves during the sabbatical? Yes. Nancy is developing plans for group reflections to read or reflect on our own ministry and how we can more completely reflect the love of Jesus to our own membership, in our community and beyond.

Will we get a chance to wish Louisa well on her sabbatical? Yes. At the 11:00 service on Sunday, May 16, we will commission Louisa and offer our blessings for her recharge and renewal. This is an important moment to share our hopes and dreams, both for the next several months and the future of our ministry together. We hope you will join us, either in person or online.

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