What Does “Sabbatical” Mean for Joy Reigns?

By Jen Mabe, in News

The word “Sabbatical” draws from the Sabbath concept in scripture. The idea is a part of all our lives, on a small scale, as we use our weekends to do a different kind of work and to renew and prepare ourselves to plunge back into our Monday thru Friday lives. It’s a period of renewal before getting on with the business at hand. Sabbaticals are important to help ensure growth and renewal for the pastor, and thus also the ongoing health of the entire church and congregation.

It’s not a vacation from “being a pastor”; it’s a time for devotional, theological, pastoral, and personal reflection and renewal. It’s an intentional, planned time of doing, not escaping.

Various studies have given us some important statistics that support the need for pastoral sabbaticals, and the ELCA recommends them for each Pastor. Here are just a few of the statistics:

  • An ELCA study of active pastors a few years ago found 69% were overweight; 64% had high blood pressure; 13% were taking anti-depressants (a higher rate than the population at large, at the time of the study);
  • In general: 33% of ministers report burnout within their first 5 years; 52% say they/their spouses believe being in ministry is hazardous to their family’s health and well-being; 90% work more than 50 hours per week.

It’s for these and other reasons that a sabbatical is part of Pastor Sara’s contract.

Out of many possible questions congregations can have, a couple of initial ones have likely already occurred to you. They’re pretty basic and are probably typical of all of us:

What will Sundays be like? Who will I call in an emergency? What will we do “without a pastor”?

Please know—we will not be without a pastoral presence!

In faithful covenant with the Bishop and Clergy, as well as in faithful covenant with each other and with God, we can trust that we will never be alone.

Even though we’re very early in the process (the Sabbatical period won’t begin until 2019), we know this: The pastoral needs of Joy Reigns will be met fully and professionally, with love, care, and intentionality. Our congregational council, Pr. Sara, and this Sabbatical Team, along with the Synod, will see to it that resources are identified and plans made…we believe this may include some combination of both nearby and/or various retired clergy, as well as lay assistance. Joy Reigns—all of you—all of US—will be well cared for.

How are costs covered? Can we afford it?

We are applying for a Lily Grant, and so costs to Joy Reigns should be minimal if any at all. The grant will not only cover most of the costs, it will also provide up to $15K to the congregation to defray the cost of pastoral coverage. (We will continue to maintain Pr. Sara’s contracted compensation package, but that’s, of course, part of our ongoing expenses with or without the sabbatical.)

So in summary, we don’t believe Joy Reigns’ costs should increase, but we will need to welcome other pastoral care and coverage during the sabbatical period.

This is very early in the process—the grant application is due this April, but it will be a number of months before we know if the application has been approved—and the sabbatical won’t begin until Fall 2019.

As we move through the grant application and the planning processes, you’ll have questions. You’re encouraged to contact any member of the Council or the Sabbatical Team who are Monica Bramelish, Mike Walker and John Williams, as well as Pastor Sara, to share your questions.

As plans proceed, we’ll keep you informed! A successful sabbatical is a joint effort between all of us and results in healthy pastoral leadership and a healthy congregation.

Memorable Christmas Worship

By Jen Mabe, in News


What a blessing it is to celebrate the Newborn King! May you keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart all year long. Visit our Facebook page to enjoy memories of this year’s Christmas services and to learn more about what is new at Joy Reigns!




Message from Pastor Sara

By Jen Mabe, in In the World

MIT Vigil for OrlandoSanctuary, by definition, is a place of refuge or safety. Some of us call the room that we worship in our “sanctuary.” This makes sense to me as it is one of the places we can go to be reminded that we seek refuge and safety in God amidst the chaos of life.

In Orlando and across the country, the LGBTQ community feels like they have lost one of their sanctuaries, after being attacked in a nightclub. The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued a letter in response to the June 12th shooting which states, “We must speak peace and reconciliation into the cacophony of hatred and division. We must live the truth that all people are created in God’s image.”

This Sunday at the end of worship, after we have been singing and praying and filled with God’s Word, we will leave our sanctuary and go out into the world. Before you leave Joy Reigns, you will be invited to place one (or more) of 50 pride flags in the front yard to be a visual remembrance of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and also as a sign to the LGBTQ community that Joy Reigns is a sanctuary where everyone is welcome.

We will have time to lament and pray and also to be filled with hope. Please join me.

God’s Peace, Pastor Sara

Sign Up for Service Day – Sept. 13th!

By Jen Mabe, in Uncategorized

The 2015 Service Day is fast approaching! Please help us get ready by filling out this SUPER simple survey.

Don’t forget to wear your yellow God’s Work. Our Hands. shirt on Sunday, September 13th. Extras are available if you need one for a suggested donation of $10. Please contact the office if you would like one, and thank you in advance. This is going to be a great day!

Faith 5 Journal 8/19 – 8/25

By Jen Mabe, in Uncategorized






Here’s this week’s journal! Please feel free to print this so you can write down your thoughts, observations or simply your musings!

Faith5_Journal_Summer 9

Faith 5 Journal 8/12 – 8/18

By Jen Mabe, in Uncategorized






Here’s this week’s journal! Please feel free to print this so you can write down your thoughts, observations or simply your musings!

Faith5_Journal_Summer 8

In the World – listen

By Jen Mabe, in In the World



By Jenny Corkill, Guest Blogger

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” ~ James 1:19

Today I will do my best to turn off the distractions, be present and listen. Listen, not just with my ears but with my heart wide open!

As I listen, I know that I will not always have the answer or know the right thing to say and that is OK. Sometimes the empty spaces between the words can mean more than anything spoken. A smile, a hug, a pat on the back or a simple nod can say so much.

Today I will do my best to not only listen to the many people I encounter but to listen to the quiet whisper. Listen to the always present voice inside, my guide, my friend, my God. I will look to God for guidance as I make my way through the day. When I am feeling short tempered, tired or cranky I will turn toward that quiet voice and listen, asking for guidance, as I place my trust in God.

Today I will listen!

Faith 5 Journal 8/5 – 8/11

By Jen Mabe, in Uncategorized






Here’s this week’s journal! Please feel free to print this so you can write down your thoughts, observations or simply your musings!

Faith5_Journal_Summer 7

In the World – judgments

By Jen Mabe, in In the World


And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” Revelation 16:7

Lady Justice: She is typically portrayed as blind-folded because “justice is blind.” All too often in today’s world, though, we see that she is not. How could she be? Justice here on Earth is handed down by men and women who, while they do their best to be impartial, are still exactly that—human.

Here, though, Revelation reminds us that God’s justice is blind. True and just are God’s judgments, so while injustice may prevail in this world, be mindful that it will not in the eyes of God.

Until next time…

Faith 5 Journal 7/29 – 8/4

By Jen Mabe, in Uncategorized






Here’s this week’s journal! Please feel free to print this so you can write down your thoughts, observations or simply your musings!

Faith5_Journal_Summer 6