With gratitude for the generosity and care of this church community, I am pleased to announce that I will be on an extended professional leave from September 16 – December 16, 2020 with approval from Personnel Council, Session, and the Presbytery of Detroit. Grosse Pointe Memorial Church’s extended professional leave policy allows for 12 weeks of leave for renewal and professional development after six years of full-time ministry, much like the sabbaticals offered by other institutions. Many members of GPMC’s full-time staff have received this leave in recent years. As I conclude my sixth year of ministry here, I am looking forward to this time of study and renewal.
I intend to treat my leave as a true sabbatical, or a sabbath-ical, as my husband likes to say. Indeed, the word “sabbatical” derives from the Biblical word “sabbath,” which means “rest.” We read in scripture that God ordained a pattern of work and rest that is holy, and is modeled after God’s own actions in the creation of the world when God rested on the seventh day. So in the seventh year of my ministry, I intend to participate in this holy pattern of life by resting from my work, reconnecting with God, and renewing my creative energies through engagement with arts and books in order to return to GPMC full of the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love with which I pledged to serve the church. Since the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue throughout the course my leave, I have not planned to travel, but my sabbatical will certainly include time for continuing education, through a conference (if possible), remote learning, or self-study. I look forward to sharing what I have learned about sabbath upon my return to work. This may take the form of curriculum, middle hour presentations, or a youth series.
While I am away, ministry will continue! GPMC is blessed with a faithful and hardworking staff, and with amazing and dedicated volunteers in the youth program. Rachel Bellovich, Camilla Davies, and Chelsea Gilbert have generously stepped forward to shepherd the youth program through this season, care for our young people, and communicate with youth, families, and staff. As September approaches, you can expect to hear more details about our plans for this program year.
I am truly grateful for this opportunity to be re-energized in my ministry and call. As I approach sabbatical leave, I would ask your prayers for me. Please pray that I would be spiritual renewed and receive fresh insight, wisdom, and perspective from God. And throughout my time away, I will also be praying for you: for your health and safety in this time of pandemic, for your leadership and ministry to continue to shine brightly as a light by the lakeshore, and for your own rest and renewal throughout the season.
Rev. Sarah Godbehere
Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families