FAQ’s on Pastor Molly’s Sabbatical (June 1 – August 31)

(From the Mutual Ministry Team)

For the past eighteen months, VELC’s Mutual Ministry Team and Pastor Molly have been working hard to plan for her upcoming sabbatical (June 1 – August 31).

We thought we would share our planning and the expected sabbatical program (for both Pastor Molly and VELC) . . . and answer some frequently asked questions.


Why a sabbatical?

When our congregation called Pastor Molly, in 2010, her letter of call allowed for a sabbatical after six years of ministry

What is a sabbatical?”

“Sabbatical” is rooted in the concept of seventh day (Sabbath) rest.

“From time to time . . . ministers need and require an extended period of time for study, personal growth, reflection and renewal without the demands of one’s regular employment — a sabbatical leave.  Experience has shown that the congregation’s ministry directly benefits from such study, growth, and renewal.  Long-term ministry is revitalized and stimulated.  All parties benefit.” (Greater Milwaukee Synod’s “Rostered Leader’s Compensation Guidelines, Appendix D)

How did we prepare?

The Mutual Ministry Team and Pastor Molly began planning and preparation in the fall of 2015.  In April 2016, we compiled a detailed sabbatical proposal – reviewed by the council and signed by VELC’s President and Treasurer – to the CTS Clergy Renewal Program (funded by Eli Lilly).  In August, we received notice that the proposal was accepted! The grant will not only fully fund the events/activities of her sabbatical, but also the necessary costs to reimburse the pastor/others who will be covering for her during her absence.

What/who will be available during the Sabbatical?

Pastor Mark Thompson, an ordained minister of the ELCA will be preaching/presiding during these months.  Pastor Mark has been a supply pastor here on several occasions. In addition to being here on Sundays, he will also be available during the week for support and consultation – and will share “on call” emergencies when necessary.

Marge Puntarec, our Intern (and hospice chaplain) will preach occasionally and will continue her regular visitation with seniors.  She will share “on call” duties with Pr. Mark.

Will Pastor Molly be available for weddings or funerals during her sabbatical?

No.  Pastor Molly’s sabbatical includes an extended trip abroad, and time out of the country.  Pastor Mark and Marge will be able to provide the necessary support for pastoral care during her absence.


What will Pastor Molly be doing while she is gone?

Pastor Molly’s sabbatical theme is “Rejuvenating Connections, Old and New:  Identity, Impact and Inclusivity in Evangelical Witness.”  She has been researching her religious/ethnic roots, especially her newly discovered Mennonite ancestry.  After a tour of Germany, to trace important places of Luther’s Reformation (this is the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses posted in Wittenberg), she will join the “Mennonite Heritage Tour” through Poland to visit important settlements/places of the Anabaptist Movement.  The last weeks of the time in Europe will be spent in England, researching her English roots.

What will the congregation be doing while she is gone?

Everything will continue, as usual, during the summer months.  Worship, team meetings, etc. will continue.

In addition, people will be encouraged to research/report on their particular religious and ethnic heritages!  A map, with a pushpin will allow us to “see” our various countries of origin, immigration ports, etc.  In addition, a loose-leaf book will have blank sheaths into which you can place interesting narratives about your heritage/families.

Many of you already have stories to tell about your origins.  Perhaps they involve the “old country.”  Perhaps they are stories of grandparents in this country and what life was like “back then!” No story is too small to tell, and sharing with each other reminds us that we all have come from diverse backgrounds; it also helps us to relate to one another in our commonness and provides a more ecumenical vision in the years ahead.

VELC’s first ancestors were Norwegian.  How many who are here today share that ancestry and how many more are represented in our current memberships.

In May, Pastor Molly will be sharing helpful resources, which can help you to do your particular research and reporting during the summer.  When she comes back from her sabbatical, we will all have a “celebration” together of our findings!