From Pastor Petersen:
Starting on Wednesday, May 25 and lasting until August 31, funded by the Lily Endowment fund and with no financial cost to the congregation, I will be taking a Sabbatical. I am not retiring. It is a long break, but not that long. It is shorter than the school’s summer vacation. In many ways, it is a kind of big vacation; but it is distinct in that it is not only longer than a vacation, but in that it is purposeful and is funded. The idea is that I will step away from the daily grind and pressure of pastoral work to rest, travel, recreate, and work on healthy coping strategies and techniques, spiritual and otherwise, for dealing with stress and anxiety. All of this is meant to help me return to Redeemer with renewed energy. It is not product-oriented. I am not trying to finish a degree or write a book. But with God’s help and by His grace, I hope to stay healthy, to avoid burnout, and to develop skills that will enable another 22 years at Redeemer.
We received a grant from the Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis for $48,840 to help us realize these goals. The plan, goals, and application were designed by an ad hoc Sabbatical Committee consisting of Jonathan Busarow, Jane Casey, Maggie Casey, Jody Lent, and Gifford Grobien. The money from the grant will be used in two ways. First it will be used to fund interim pastoral care while I am away. That effort will be led and administered by Pastor Frese. He will be helped, of course, by the elders. The money will also be used to fund my renewal activities, for some supplies for the youth darts program at Redeemer, and for a culminating event in September after I return. Any equipment purchased for the programs will belong to the congregation at the end. Any funds not expended according to the approved budget must be returned to the Endowment. The grant is meant to alleviate any financial burden or stress on the congregation associated with this program but not to be financially profitable or to fund other ministries and missions.
My side of the program will have three intertwined components revolving around darts: time, travel, and training. The time, 98 days in total, is meant to enable me to disconnect from the Ministry. I will travel 43 days with Jacqui to reconnect with her, to see darts at the highest level and receive some coaching, to visit my ancestral home and develop new horizons. Those 43 days include travel to New York City to attend the North American Darts Championship at Madison Square Garden. That weekend will be spent with former field worker, Rev. Evan Scamman, and his family. We are also going on a two week bus tour of Ireland and Scotland. After there there will be a long weekend in London to include some dart coaching and then five days on the Isle of Man. In London and on the Isle we will be joined by Jacqui’s best friend and her husband and get some motorcycle time in. It won’t be funded by the grant, but Jacqui and I are also hoping to get in at least a couple of weekends visiting her father in Northern Michigan.
I will also do some solo travel. I will spend one week at a wellness retreat in the Smoky Mountains. There I will receive mental training and engage in new and healthy experiences. This might be painful, but I am looking forward to it. I will also do some solo travel not funded by the grant. I will attend the English District convention in June and a pastors’ conference in Wisconsin in July. In August I will teach a continuing education course for the Seminary in Minnesota. I also agreed to write an article for a Festschrift for a friend that has to be completed this Summer. While I won’t be preaching, teaching Catechism or Bible classes, seeing shut-ins or making calls, or attending meetings, I will still be engaged theologically and with the Church at large.
Along the way, I will have a few weeks at home with no scheduled activities. There I hope to have uninterrupted and unhurried practice time on the dartboard. Already in January, I began in-person training sessions with a sports psychologist. Those will also continue and wrap us this Summer. This is a course of study and discipline to help with performance anxiety. It is centered on darts but its applications are legion.
The congregation’s side is less focused on darts. It is mainly time with Pastor Frese and other ministers for Biblical study. Some of that, particularly with Pastor Frese, will take up spiritual and practical aspects of dealing with anxiety and stress, focusing on the peace that passes all understanding and the comfort that comes from recognizing and knowing our place in this life as God’s redeemed children. During this time, I ask that you do not contact me about pastoral care. The program expects real benefit to come from a limited but extended break. While I am away, please make use of Pastor Frese.
I will return to full-time work on September 1. On Saturday, September 17, we will host a seminar in the morning on what Pastor Petersen has learned about dealing with stress and anxiety and spiritual applications. We will then enjoy a catered lunch followed by a dart tournament. Baby sitting will be provided. The tournament will not be competitive. It will place an emphasis on fun and involvement and include prizes and contests for everyone. The whole community will be invited and the grant will pay for all of it.
Thank you for your prayers and support over the years and for your support of this program. It is a great gift for me and for Jacqui. Retirement is likely at least 15 – 20 years away and maybe not even then. I am not looking for an out. I love the people we serve here. I love the work I’ve been called to do. I am excited about our future together and I thank God for you and this place daily. Jacqui feels the same way.