Home | Pathways to Ministry | 2021 Policy Updates to Clergy Vacation and Time Away Policy
PATHWAYS TO MINISTRY
By Rev. Jonathan Priebe*
I would like to thank the Annual Conference for approving our initial updates to our clergy vacation and time away policy proposed by our Board of Ministry and the Bishop’s Cabinet. One very important step we took was bringing local pastors onto equal ground with ordained clergy with their time away from work. This ensures that local pastors have time away for their education as well as adequate time for rest, family, and spiritual renewal. This is not “how things used to be” but it is a more fair policy.
We also increased the minimum number of vacation Sundays for full-time clergy from four to five. This is in addition to two Sundays for continuing education and renewal leave. This means that a clergyperson who is responsible for a pulpit should preach no more than 45 Sundays per year plus special services and holidays. Adequate days are enumerated in the policy so that clergy have the entire week off when they take a Sunday of vacation.
Because the phrase “six-day work week” could be misconstrued, we wanted to clarify what we mean regarding a clergy work week. Prior to the 2021 Annual Conference, the conference policy “encouraged” clergy to take a regular day off. At the 2021 Annual Conference, we approved language that “expects” all clergy to take a weekly Sabbath day on which they are unavailable for church work. This day should be clearly communicated to the congregation and should be reserved for the clergyperson’s rest, renewal, and family time. Many clergy take Monday or Friday as Sabbath.
In addition, clergy should have a day that is generally reserved for home and family work, but on which they may occasionally do some church work: finishing a sermon, responding to a pastoral emergency, officiating a wedding or funeral, etc. When this happens, the clergyperson is encouraged to adjust the rest of their work week to make up those downtime hours and keep their schedule healthy and manageable.
If you are reading this and you are a member of a local church or PPR committee, please encourage your clergyperson to take their needed and necessary time away. There is far too much burnout among clergy that causes them to leave the ministry early or make poor ethical decisions. These changes help us ensure that our current pastors are healthy while also signaling to those who may be hearing a call to ministry that the Church is serious about their health and their family’s health should they respond to God’s call through the East Ohio Conference. Thank you again, on behalf of your Board of Ministry.
*Rev. Jonathan Priebe is chair of the East Ohio Conference Board of Ministry and lead pastor of Cuyahoga Falls First UMC.
Rev. Jon Priebe
Chair, Board of Ministry
Rev. Cindy Patterson
Board of Ministry
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