Dear Members of CMPC,

As you may well be aware, the church has received a special Clergy Renewal Grant from Christian Theological Seminary (Funded by the Lilly Endowment) to support Pastor Hoffman taking a sabbatical this summer.  A congregational meeting was held regarding the grant application in March of last year.  The application was submitted in April and then, in August, we were delighted to receive word that CMPC has been awarded a grant—along with 150 other congregations around the country. 

Over the past few months we (and other leaders of the congregation) have received feedback and questions about the sabbatical and we thought it best to address the most frequently asked questions and possible misconceptions in this letter.  If any questions you have about the sabbatical are not answered here, we strongly encourage you to seek out one of the members of the personnel committee (listed below) and/or Pastor Hoffman and we would be more than happy to answer them for you.

Question: How long will Pastor Hoffman be on sabbatical?

Answer: The sabbatical begins on Monday, June 1st and ends on Wednesday, September 30th.  Thus, Pastor Hoffman’s last day before the sabbatical will be Sunday, May 31st and his first day back in the office will be Thursday, October 1st (with his first Sunday back in the pulpit being Sunday, October 4th)

Question: Who will preach and provide pastoral care while Pastor Hoffman is away?

Answer: In our original plan, we had hoped Rev. Bob Culp would be able to fill in while Scott is away. However, Bob has bowed out because of health considerations.  Thus, Scott (in coordination with the personnel committee, the worship and music committee, presbytery, and many others) will develop a pulpit supply and pastoral coverage schedule.  Though we are saddened that Rev. Culp is unable to fill the pulpit and provide pastoral coverage, having one person fill in for a solo pastor on sabbatical is very rare.  We will be addressing this situation the way most every church with a solo pastor handles it when that pastor is away on sabbatical.

Question: I have heard that Pastor Hoffman is just going away on an extended vacation.  Is this true?

Answer: While it is true that Pastor Hoffman will be using this time to rest from the rigors of pastoral ministry—as the grant is designed to support a respite from the daily demands placed on a pastor—it is also true that he will spend time focused on spiritual and vocational growth.  The official notification states the Clergy Renewal Grant provides “opportunities for pastors to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection”.

Specifically, the grant proposal includes time spent with an executive coach working on leadership and visioning as well as time meeting with three of Scott’s greatest preaching influences—Rev. Tom Long, Rev. Craig Barnes, and Rev. Will Willimon.  Additionally, the sabbatical will give Scott time to do some serious reading of books and articles that he scarcely has time to read in depth with his regular responsibilities. 

Also, at the conclusion of the sabbatical Scott plans to spend 3-4 days of personal retreat at Pine Springs Camp reflecting on the sabbatical time as well as making plans for his return to CMPC.  Additionally, Scott will spend time building a dining table for a family in need—inspired by mission work done by the church he attended while in college.  Generally speaking, the plan is for the first half of the sabbatical to be focused on rest and rejuvenation and for the second half to be focused on growth.

Additionally, the grant fully and generously supports the opportunity for Scott and his family (including extended family) to gather for a nice vacation at the beach for multiple weeks, free of all church concerns.  The grant also generously provides for an all-expenses paid trip during which Scott and Ashlee will visit Italy and Malta. 

The Clergy Renewal Grant approves and endorses these specific activities on the understanding that the sabbatical is designed, in part, to give the Hoffman family a chance to enjoy extended time together in a manner that would quite simply be unattainable on the basis of the Pastor’s normal schedule and salary. This is considered an essential part of the sabbatical—to not only contribute to rejuvenation of the spirit—but to be unencumbered and carefree for this portion of the sabbatical.

Question: Will Pastor Hoffman be taking other vacation time either before or after the sabbatical?

Answer: Scott does not plan to take vacation time before the sabbatical and only intends to take off the week between Christmas and New Years (as he has since he began his pastorate here) after the sabbatical.  Additionally, Scott plans to attend two continuing education events—one before the sabbatical and one after—neither of which include a Sunday. 

Question: What if Pastor Hoffman decides to leave CMPC after his sabbatical?

Answer: The intent of the Clergy Renewal Grant (which Scott understands and embraces fully) is to renew and reenergize pastors to serve the churches they are currently serving.  Indeed, to that end, the issuers of the grant make it very clear that pastors of churches who receive the funds should commit to serving in their current call for at least one year from the end of the sabbatical period.  Of course, the hope is that the call extends well beyond that year (or as long as God intends).  If anything, this sabbatical, funded by this grant, makes it even more likely that Scott will be with CMPC for the foreseeable future—of course, keeping in mind that Pastor Hoffman is ultimately committed to serving wherever God leads him. 

Question: What kind of funds is the grant providing for the church?

Answer: The grant is providing $12,000 for CMPC and the budget breakdown is as follows:

$6250 for pulpit supply and pastoral coverage

$2750 for activities related to Pastor Hoffman’s leave-taking (i.e.—receptions on his last Sunday before the start of the sabbatical and the first Sunday after the end of the sabbatical, as well as food for a special gathering entitled “Sabbatical: What to Expect”*)

$3000 for a church retreat focused on Sabbath

*The “Sabbatical: What to Expect” gathering will be an evening event at CMPC to which we will invite a pastor who has been on sabbatical, members of a church whose pastor has been on a sabbatical, and a representative from the Presbytery to share their experiences with sabbaticals.

Additionally the grant is providing around $37,000 to fund the activities and travel for Pastor Hoffman and his family mentioned above.

Question: What happens if a pastoral emergency arises while Pastor Hoffman is away?

Answer: The stipulations of the grant are very clear that there is to be minimal (if any) contact between Pastor Hoffman and the church during the sabbatical.  This is to ensure that Scott will be able to take full advantage of this opportunity to rest, reflect, and grow.  Generally speaking, those who agree to provide pastoral coverage during the sabbatical will be trusted and empowered to do so.  However, the personnel committee will work with Scott to establish guidelines for when and how he should be contacted and consulted should an emergency arise. 

We hope this helps address some of the main questions we have heard over the past few months.  Please feel free to reach out to the members of the Personnel Committee and/or Pastor Hoffman with any other questions you may have. 

Because this is something CMPC has never done before and there is some anxiety about it we do strongly encourage everyone to discuss any questions or concerns with those “in the know” so as to avoid any misconceptions.

Grace and Peace,

CMPC Personnel Committee

Phil Henderson, Chair

Leta Loring

Don Mitchell