Sabbatical Leave


This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Sabbath… a break… time away… study… rest… prayer… travel… research… renewal… growth… reflection…

Sabbatical leave can be all of these things and more.  In fact, there are many passages in the Bible where sabbatical, coming from the Hebrew “sabbath,” is encouraged and where Jesus is described as going away for prayer and renewal (ex. Exodus 23:10-11a; Matthew 14:22-23; Luke 4:42, Luke 6: 12-13; Mark 6:30-32).

How would you use two weeks, one month, or even up to six months of leave, not as vacation, but as dedicated time to refocus; to renew yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually; to rediscover yourself and your ministry?  Read on for more information and inspiration about planning, funding, and taking a sabbatical.

Funding Sources:

1. Lilly Endowment’s National Clergy Renewal Program: each year awards 120 grants of up to $50,000 to support pastors in a renewal experience.

2. Louisville Institute’s Pastoral Study Project: awards grants of up to $15,000 to support the intellectual work of pastoral leaders who have the capacities for research, teaching, and writing that can reach broad audiences.

3. Study Leave at Duke Divinity School

4. Samford University Sabbath Leave: pastors can spend 2 weeks to 3 months at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., working on projects of their own (writing, research, art, volunteering, etc).  Stipends of up to $6,000 are available.

Additional inspiration and information about sabbatical leave:

Lilly Endowment Grace Notes– a collection of comments and advice from previous grant recipients.

Resources for American Christianity: Articles on Clergy Sabbaticals– a compilation of articles written by clergy about their sabbatical experiences.

Wheat Ridge Ministries: Sabbatical Resources– a variety of links, downloads, and book references to help plan and prepare for sabbatical.

Sabbatical Leave in The UMC Book of Discipline (paragraph 352).

What pastors should know before their sabbatical– an article by Warren Bird and Martin Sanders on

The dark side of sabbatical– an article by Mark Miller-McLemore on Faith and Leadership.

Katie Huffman

2 thoughts on “Sabbatical Leave

  1. Very informative, glad I kept searching. I would really love to do studies or a degree program with the Faith and Leadership programs at Duke University. Thank you for all the information on sabbatical as well.

    • Glad you found the resources helpful! We’ll be glad to send additional info about some of the other programs via email. Thanks!

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