After every six years of ministry, Auburn First Baptist offers its ministerial staff the opportunity to take a Sabbath Study Leave. It is a kind and thoughtful gift, providing support for study and renewal. I am thankful to have the opportunity for a Sabbath Study Leave this summer.
In conversations with the Personnel Committee and the Deacons last year, they approved my Sabbath Study Leave for this May 25-July 27. I will focus on reading about a theology of creation as well as the changing religious landscape around us. In order to enrich this reading, we will travel to Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, visiting National Forests and Parks. I will also work with Dr. Bruce Gourley, who has his Ph.D. from Auburn University, attended Auburn FBC while he was here, and now lives in Bozeman, Montana. Dr. Gourley teaches and works for Nurturing Faith, formerly Baptists Today.
With a connection to Auburn’s roots, pairing education with a focus on agriculture, I am studying a theology of creation, where there are intersections with our context. In addition to this reading, while I am in Montana, I will meet with different ministers and leaders about the changing religious landscape by engaging in conversations with ministers who serve in that context and people who do not have a connection to a church. With the rising number of people not connected to a church, even in the South, listening to people’s stories can make us more sensitive to their experiences and kind in our response to their needs.
I am also thankful for the Center for Congregational Resources at Samford University. I applied and received the James A. Auchmuty Congregational Leadership Fellowship, which is named after Dr. James Auchmuty, Pastor Emeritus of Shades Crest Baptist Church in Birmingham. The grant will help with our travel and lodging.
Over the next few months, I will be preparing for my Sabbath Study Leave, finishing certain tasks before the summer arrives. I am also grateful to the staff and our committees, for the work they will do while I am gone. I am thankful to the congregation for providing this opportunity and for its support, as time for study and renewal is such a profound gift!