2021 Sabbatical

If you missed the presentation of information about Pastor Nate’s sabbatical this summer, you can review the PDF version here.


What is a sabbatical?
The word ‘sabbatical’ has its roots in the biblical concept of Sabbath (“to rest” or “to cease”). Sabbath keeping is setting aside time that God consecrates and makes holy. Sabbatical leave is a time for our pastor to shift gears in order to return among us refreshed and renewed in body, mind and spirit. It is more than an extended vacation from meetings, sermons, and shepherding the flock. It is a time for Pastor Nate to receive spiritual nourishment and a change in perspective, to deepen his relationship with God, himself, and his family. It is a season of spiritual growth.

Why do pastors take sabbaticals?
There are two main reasons pastors take sabbaticals. First, pastoral ministry is by its nature a 24/7 helping profession. A sabbatical provides the opportunity to “unplug” so as to rest and be restored physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As you might realize, the last several years of our church’s life have been rather stressful with a fair amount of that stress falling on Pastor Nate. This is on top of his presbytery responsibilities. It is hoped that a sabbatical will provide refreshment for him. Second, sabbaticals are designed to promote growth in the pastor so he can return spiritually refreshed and renewed for a new season of pastoral leadership. Pastors who have taken a sabbatical testify that they and their congregations have been blessed by a sabbatical and moved into new phases of ministry time and again. Understanding the benefits of sabbatical for the pastor and congregation, the last pastor search committee included a three-month sabbatical every seventh year in Pastor Nate’s original call to Calvary. Pastor Nate is seeking advice as to how to best shape his sabbatical so that the goals of refreshment and growth might be met.

How long will Pastor Nate be gone?
Pastor Nate will be on sabbatical for three months during this summer – June, July and August 2021. This interval and timing were chosen for the following reasons. First, as mentioned above, a three-month sabbatical
every seventh year is a commitment the congregation gave to Pastor Nate in his call to Calvary. Second, a three month sabbatical seems to be the right amount of timing for the goals of the sabbatical to be met. Third, the
timing works out well practically in terms of covering Pastor Nate’s responsibilities. Substitute preachers are widely available in the summer, which as it turns out is also typically a more “disrupted” time of congregational life due to people’s vacations. Thus, we hope the three months to end up benefiting both the pastor and the congregation.

Who will cover Pastor Nate’s responsibilities during his absence?
The ruling elders will cover all matters during Pastor Nate’s sabbatical. The shepherd elders will provide normal, day-to-day pastoral care. Several pastors within our presbytery have agreed to provide emergency pastoral care, as needed. Teaching elders in our presbytery will preach and administer the Lord’s Supper. We hope to have several pastors preach over multiple weeks, along with others who will preach one or two Sundays at different times during the summer. Hopefully this manner of preaching will provide some continuity during Pastor Nate’s absence from the pulpit.

Primary responsibility for the Sunday worship will be: Elder Paul Davis
Primary responsibility for our Life Groups will be: Elder Benton Hobgood
Primary responsibility for the office employees will be: Elder Tom Gyori

Whom do I call if I have a question or a personal or family crisis?
Please contact your shepherd elder or call our church office at 919-781-9015, and ask to be placed in contact with Elder Jeff Wiggs.

Will the church just be in a “holding pattern” while Pastor Nate is away?
No. It’s important to realize that a sabbatical is a two-way process. While Pastor Nate is on his journey of renewal, we will embark on a journey as well – reflecting on our walk with Christ, seeking renewal in His service, and discerning how God would use us as missionaries in our diverse community. It is expected that besides regularly attending Sunday worship, the congregation would continue various forms of relational engagement with those who don’t yet know Christ whether that be as individuals, couples, families, or as a Life Group.

Will Nate be in contact with the Calvary congregation during his sabbatical?
No. An important part of a sabbatical is to make a complete break from things. The only people from Calvary who will be in direct contact with Nate while he is away will be his family. In the event that some extraordinary event absolutely must be communicated to Nate, the Session will determine when and how that will be done.

How will we get “reacquainted” when Nate returns?
Pastor Nate will return to his normal duties on September 13, 2021 including preaching on Sunday, September 19. Plans for that first Sunday back have yet to be determined but we’re looking to have a special welcome, as circumstances allow. In addition, we’ll plan an event to allow an opportunity for Nate to share his experience and reconnect with us.