A Church Without Walls

Sabbath Letter to Congregation

This summer, from July 30- August 29, I am excited to share that I have been granted a spiritual renewal leave. According to our Book of Discipline, clergy are to take at least one month of spiritual growth and renewal leave every four years. As I begin my sixth year of ministry, I know it’s important for me to make space for this opportunity to rest and recharge. I am grateful to our Staff Parish Relations Committee and to the amazing staff here at Grace for their support in this important time of renewal.

What does a spiritual renewal leave mean? Well, this is a time for me, as your pastor, to fill up my cup. Pastoral ministry, like so many of our vocations, can drain our spiritual tanks. And when my cup isn’t filled to the brim, my ministry among you is less than it could be. I believe that what my colleagues have shared with me – that it often takes getting away for a bit from the 24/7 nature of ministry to truly refresh, refill, and allow God to fill us back up. I hope to return and be able to sing with King David, “my cup is so full it spills over!” (Psalm 23:5)

What will I be doing for this month of spiritual renewal? First, I will be spending time with my family. I will be spending my month in Boise, ID where I’ll get to take walks with my mom, play bluegrass with my stepdad, talk dogs and life with my dad, and try out water aerobics with my stepmom. I’ll get to be Aunt Janessa for my step-nieces and nephew. Second, I’ll be working with a spiritual director to refine my current spiritual practices and cultivate new habits that will keep me healthy and focused for the years of ministry ahead. Finally, I’ll spend time with ministry colleagues in the area in conversation about their passion for ministry, gain wisdom about their leadership, and learn about their best practices for sustaining ministry.

This is a time for the church to rest and renew, as well! Prayer is one of the primary things we are called to at Grace UMC. I’m asking you all to join me in 2 spiritual practices. The first is beginning each day with a breath prayer. The instructions for practicing the breath prayer are included in this letter and will also be on our website. The second is to journal at the end of each day and answer these three questions: “What am I grateful for?” “What do I need to let go of?” “Where did I encounter God?”  When I return in September, I will have a series of pastor forums to talk about how we grew in our month of renewal. I look forward to that time of sharing!

In my absence, we will have both visiting clergy and familiar church members preaching and leading worship. If you have any pastoral care needs, please contact the church office and they will get in touch with the clergy who are helping care for you all while I’m away.

I am so honored to be your pastor and I already look forward to returning to you, with a FULL spiritual tank, as we joyfully enter our fourth year of ministry together!



Pastor Janessa