Bishop receives grant for sabbatical, encourages pastors to take time for study and spiritual growth


The Sabbath Leave Program, based at the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Samford University and funded by the Lilly Endowment, has just awarded Bishop Willimon funds to assist him in a two month sabbatical this summer. Bishops are granted three months Renewal Leave every four years. Bishop Willimon plans to use his leave for study, writing, rest and recreation.

“The Sabbath Leave Program is a great resource for our clergy. I am honored to be selected for this grant. Unfortunately, even though many grants have been awarded to clergy in our area for sabbaticals, only a few of our United Methodist clergy have taken advantage of this,” said Bishop Willimon, “I would love to see more of our clergy apply for these grants.”

“Our own Denise Morgan Mullaney serves on the selection committee, and even though we have encouraged our clergy to take leaves for study and for spiritual rejuvenation, I’ve been disappointed that few of our pastors have taken a break from their ministry,” Bishop Willimon noted. “I helped Dr.Mark Lacey win a grant from Lilly a couple of years ago and, during a six months sabbatical, Mark engaged in a wonderful study of sanctification. I encourage all of our full time pastors to consider contacting the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Samford and plan now for a time away for spiritual growth.” (, Michael Wilson, Director- 205-726-4064).

The United Methodist Discipline ( ¶ 351) encourages all pastors to be involved in Continuing Education and Spiritual Growth: “A clergy member's continuing education and spiritual growth program should include such leaves at least one week each year and at least one month during one year of every quadrennium. Such leaves shall not be considered as past of the minister's vacations and shall be planned in consultation with their charges or other agencies to which they are appointed as well as the bishop, district superintendent…. A clergy member may request a formational and spiritual growth leave of up to six months while continuing to hold an appointment in the local church. Such leaves are available to clergy members who have held full-time appointments for at least six years.”

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