Greetings in Christ,
After May’s council meeting (specifically regarding our finances and the fact that we were just starting into the summer already dipping into our reserve funds), a curious thought rattled around in my brain. When I got home, I mentioned it to my wife, Danae, “What if I were to take some time off unpaid this summer.” I got thinking about the idea of suggesting an utterly self initiated voluntary furlough; though practically speaking, as far as my family is concerned, it really just amounts to “extra vacation time” to be taken during the summer of 2016, that comes with some particular side-effects, some of which happen to be beneficial to Cross of Hope’s 2016 budget. Let me be very clear that I don’t actually think this is a necessary action; this is not a fear-fill reactionary response to the church’s finances going into the summer. I’m sure we would be totally fine throughout the summer (albeit likely with some conversations about cutting back expenditures that we’ll probably still have either way). I also want to be clear that I don’t feel that the church’s finances are solely my burden, or my responsibility to solve. As with the whole ministry of the church, we’re all in this together, and we all have different ways we are able to support the church’s ministry. Generally speaking, I usually consider giving more time, presence, money, and energy to the church as the primary avenues of giving in the support of God’s ministry, but in this noteworthily calmer season in the church year, it occurred to me that taking some unpaid time off, could also be a creative way to give to the church, while simultaneously giving more of my time and presence to my family. In short, I see this idea as a mutually beneficial convergence of natural consequences.
So, what I ran by our church leadership (and was voted-on/approved at the June council meeting) was that I take an extra 3 weeks worth of time off this summer (unpaid). Some of this time off, Danae and I had already been planning to take by using some regular (paid) vacation time away this summer with our kids, but this simultaneously allows us to plan a bit more of that kind of time, as well as still having more vacation time left over for the fall/winter than I otherwise would. As you may or may not have noticed, some of this time I have already started taking, being out of town 2 Sundays in a row toward the beginning of the Summer.
To address a few potential questions/concerns: some of the time I will be taking off unpaid, I plan to be out of town with my family, and some of it we will be staying home. For the times when I am out of town (which are best not published so publicly), I will plan accordingly (just like I would for any regular vacation time when I am out of town) to have another local area pastor be “on call” for pastoral care needs that arise in the Cross of Hope community. We will also be calling on pulpit supply pastors to come on the Sundays I will be gone (just as usual), so that Cross of Hope can continue to engage in worship involving weekly word and sacrament. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this time off, please feel free to reach out to me: in person, over the phone, email, carrier pigeon, message in a bottle, or my personal favorite: post-it note.
This summer, may you find God in creation, be surrounded by family & friends, and filled with renewing peace; I know I will!