Churches Called to Offer Additional Time for Clergy Renewal in 2023

Churches Called to Offer Additional Time for Clergy Renewal in 2023

Rev. Liz Garrigan-Byerly, Executive Minister for Area Conference Ministry, sent this letter to pastors, churches and moderators on Dec. 14 on behalf of Rev. Darrell Goodwin, Executive Conference Minister, and the Area Conference Ministers.

Dear Partners in Ministry,

Hope, peace, joy, love. These are not just themes of Advent; they are essential components of a robust life of faith, and a healthy vocation. The song my home church sings during Advent ends this way: “hope, peace, joy and love; how we gonna make it real?” I am writing to invite you to help us commit to making it real for our authorized ministers in the coming year.

This pastoral letter from Council of Conference Ministers (CCM) and the Alliance of Associate Conference Ministers (AACM) in the UCC encourages every setting to “give permission and blessing for two consecutive weeks away for renewal leave, not counted as vacation time” in 2023. Everyone in judicatory ministry has witnessed the compounded weariness and stress experienced by our authorized ministers over the last almost three years. And while it may feel as though we are on the other side of the peak of pandemic, the impact remains. This pastoral letter of care and concern for our colleagues is grounded in the words from Matthew 14:23, the need for rest and renewal for our leaders who serve God’s people is uplifted. Understanding that these two additional weeks away will impact the worshipping life of the local church, the CCM and AACM are also providing these resources, which will continue to be updated over the coming year.

The Southern New England Conference is committed to the wellness of our clergy and supporting our local churches as their partners in mutual ministry. In 2022, we hosted two clergy revivals, a clergy wellness retreat, 6 sessions of Clergy Wellness Boundary Awareness Training and numerous practical workshops for local church leaders to address these needs. We are committed to continuing that in 2023 and beyond. No single program or effort will fully address these needs; but together, we can contribute to individual and communal healing and wholeness.

We are sending this to all authorized ministers and local church moderators in the Southern New England Conference now so that you can begin to think about how to incorporate this into your 2023 planning. We recognize that for authorized ministers serving in specialized settings, we have no way of notifying your setting, and that the resources may not be useful. We encourage you to pass this along to your specialized setting. We will send this notice out again in early January, recognizing that this is a hectic time in the life of the local church, along with follow up resources and suggestions.
Hope, peace, joy and love. May they be made real for each of us and all of us and all of God’s creation.

In faith,
Rev. Liz Garrigan-Byerly
Executive Minister for Area Conference Ministry
on behalf of Rev. Darrell Goodwin, Executive Conference Minister, and the Area Conference Ministers

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