Sample Proposal 1
NOTE: All examples shown have been abbreviated to save space. Proposals should be 6 to 10 pages in length.
I am applying to the Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence Sabbath Leave Program out of the desire to be a good steward of the gifts that God has given. It is my belief that regular periods of time specifically devoted to rest, refreshment, prayer, and renewal are crucial to the health and effective leadership of any pastor. God's gift of a Sabbath day built into the cycle of each week renews God's people– not just for the week of work to come, but also, and especially, for the work of loving and serving God "as faithful witnesses to Christ our Lord," as the Book of Common Prayer puts it.
Because I trust God's wisdom in including a day of rest in the ordering of the week, and because I have seen this practice bear fruit in my own life and ministry, I wish to explore the benefits of a longer period of Sabbath rest. I wish to serve God as a priest in his Church for the whole of my life, thus allowing for longer periods of Sabbath rest at regular intervals over the course of my ministry seems beneficial, if not crucial. I have found, and wish to find further, that time set aside for renewal is enormously helpful and practical, and is part of what it means to be faithful to God.
This gift of time and resources offered by the Sabbath Leave Program will be my first experience of such a leave. I am applying to this program with real enthusiasm, eager to make the most of the opportunity.
During my Sabbath Leave I propose working on a collection of poems which focus on my family's experience of the death of my son, Jacob, and his place in the communion of saints.
Jacob was born with a heart defect, which led to three surgeries over the course of his life. He died, at 21 months old, during the last surgery. This experience has created an indelible mark on our lives. We are learning more what grief and sorrow are, and how ours is related to that suffered by Jesus on the cross. We are also learning more what hope and joy are, and how both are rooted in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. During the Sabbath Leave, I will continue to work at expressing this through the poems I am writing.
For this project I will utilize the library, the computer lab, and, especially, a quiet place to sit and write. I plan also to make use of other campus facilities such as the chapel, the grounds, lectures, gymnasium, etc.
After my leave is over I plan to encourage my congregation and others to investigate ways to build Sabbath time in to their own lives, focusing on the teaching of Scripture that God commands us to rest on a regular basis. Because intentional, re-creative rest is counter-cultural in this present day, any opportunity I have to lead my congregation and others, especially by example, in the area of Sabbath is valuable. Leading by example is like voting with one's feet, it lets actions speak of trust in God. People learn well when taught by example. I intend to make the connection clear between this time of leave and the time of "leave" we are called to take as part of the cycle of each week in our lives– and, to be as healthy as possible, as part of the shape of each day.
This Sabbath Leave will make possible the creation of the time and space necessary for deep emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual renewal. Having the time to devote myself entirely to the work of writing will facilitate creativity, which is a prayerful response of thanksgiving to the Creator himself. All creative activity on the part of God's people is a sharing in the wonder and mystery of God's own creative activity. We are called to be co-creators with God. I have found that I am most healthy as a pastor, a husband, and a child of God when I am the most engaged in creative work, such as writing.
The reading required to write well, in addition to the intellectual stimulation of participating in the life of Samford University , will help foster the intellectual renewal I am seeking. As I intend to exercise regularly during the Sabbath Leave I anticipate a physical renewal. The work of processing and expressing loss and hope, death and resurrection will go far to being emotionally and spiritually renewed. In these ways I think that my proposal relates well to the overall goals of the Sabbath Leave Program.
I suspect that the generous act itself of creating and allowing time for their pastor to be away on a "Sabbath leave" in order to foster renewal and balance in his or her own life can have a healthy effect on any congregation. One example of this is that a congregation will learn to take a more active role in ministry themselves. Far from making congregational life more difficult for them, this will allow them an opportunity to deepen their relationships with one another by being more deeply involved in mutual ministry. This occasion, also, will help them to learn compassion. Being more active in ministry and growing in compassion will, almost inevitably, deepen their relationship with our Lord, strengthen them to reach out in the love of Christ to the neighborhood and the world, and embolden them to be agents of reconciliation in a world that, often, prefers to keep people divided and afraid.
I think, too, that the congregation will learn, with some surprise, how diverse church ministry is, and how involved. This awareness can foster a better appreciation for the grace and work required to develop and maintain a healthy community.
I will benefit from participating in this program by the renewal of mind, body, and soul. I fully expect that this time will help me both to remember and to rethink some of my ministry priorities. I am certain that this Sabbath leave will help me to remain grounded in the love of Christ. Being able to bring this groundedness to bear in my life with my congregation will benefit both them and me by helping to keep us focused on the redemptive love of God, and by allowing this to be the source of our prayer, motivations and behavior.
I have begun to prepare my congregation for this experience by discussing it with the Vestry (the elected, governing body of the congregation), who have already given it their support. I will write about the Sabbath Leave Program in our church's monthly newsletter. Additionally, I will talk about it with the congregation at large. In these ways, I plan to educate the congregation about the program itself, to thank the Vestry for their support, to articulate the mutual benefits, and to express my desire to participate in this program.
The role of my lay liaison will include introducing the concept of this program to the congregation, serving as a contact person for communication between the congregation, the Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence, and myself, and serving as an advocate for the program. Additionally, as this person will most likely be the Senior Warden of the Vestry, the lay liaison will handle many of the administrative details of the congregation while I am away.
January 6, 2004 Arrive on Samford's campus
February 13, 2004 Depart from Samford's Campus
Note: I expect to be on the campus from around 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
7. Budget - please see the Sample Budget for more information.