Sumner Summer Sabbatical
May 3, 2017 | by Ron Zacharias
Back at our Vision Night in Nov of 2016, the elders team announced that Pastor Brad Sumner and his family are scheduled for a sabbatical from May 15 thru to August 15, 2017. The Sumners have been in full-time ministry for 18 years, 12 of them as the planting pastoral couple here at Jericho Ridge. This summer, they are going to be spending 3 months away from regular ministry responsibilities listening to God about what lies ahead for JRCC.
Why a Sabbatical?
The purpose of a sabbatical is to provide a unique and extended opportunity for rest, renewal, and retooling to full-time pastors at JRCC. The church’s expectation is that sabbaticals will bring direct benefit to the congregation by increasing the effectiveness and longevity of its pastoral staff.
What is Brad doing on Sabbatical?
- Together with one of our elders and ministry leaders, he is doing some academic writing and presenting a paper at an Anabaptist-Mennonite Theology Conference in early June at TWU's Humanitas Centre.
- Meg will continue taking graduate theological education courses at Carey as she works at her MA in Spiritual Formation.
- The main component of this sabbatical will be a month of equipping ministry to local pastors and Under The Same Sun staff in Tanzania, East Africa. This will strengthen & deepen JRCC's ministry partnership with UTSS.
- Brad will also be speaking at one of our BCMB Camps, Camp Bob, on Vancouver Island.
The desired outcome of any sabbatical is that our pastor will experience personal and family refreshing for the season of ministry that lies ahead. Similar to sabbaticals in a university setting, both research and experience shows us that this outcome occurs most effectively when we provide pastors with the gift of time for reflection and integration.
- Pastor Wally will provide point leadership to the church and staff team in Brad’s absence.
- The Elders Board will continue to meet and provide spiritual, financial and shepherding oversight.
- At the guidance of our BCMB provincial Conference, sabbaticals typically last 3 months and full salary and benefits are provided during the sabbatical period.
- Sabbaticals are typically given after 7 years of full time pastoral service. In this case, Brad and Meg missed a sabbatical in 2005 by planting JRCC and had their first one in 2011. So while 2017 is one year “early”, this would be just their second sabbatical in 18 years of ministry. The plan would be move back to the suggested rhythm of 3 months after 7 years of service.
- When the Sumners are in town, they will be around JRCC – a sabbatical is not an excuse to skip church or disengage relationally from JRCC.
We are well aware that the frequent narrative around pastoral sabbaticals is that when leaders come back, they plan an exit from the congregation. As elders, we feel that the church should benefit from the sabbatical and the refreshed leadership of their leader and not simply have that person go off to another location. Our denominational recommendation is that the pastoral leader would stay in place for a minimum of 12 months following a 3-month sabbatical. Brad is fully confident that this agreement of continuation of service would be surpassed and we anticipate many more fruitful years of ministry with the Sumners at Jericho as a result of taking a healthy sabbatical leave.
We invite you to join us at - Ron