I'm back! After five weeks of a combination of church meetings, family time, travel, and sightseeing, I am glad to be home. The entire experience was fulfilling and rewarding. Highlights include the ordination of David, Julie, and Jenny; a week in Yakima with all of our kids and their families; time with my brother exploring the Olympic Peninsula; hanging out with Lauren and Rob in Idaho; Jurisdictional Conference where I participated in the decision to assign bishops; driving the Pacific Coast highway. No speeding tickets, crashes, or road mishaps. I did manage to lose a new GPS at the start of the trip which put pressure on Kim to be our navigator.
I must confess that I could have returned a week early as Jurisdictional Conference put me in work mode. Part of why I did this leave was to model for our churches that renewal leaves for our pastors are important tools in the renewal of our churches. Here is what the Book of Discipline says from paragraph 351:
2. A clergy member’s continuing education and spiritual growth program should include such leaves at least one week each year and at least one month during one year of every quadrennium. Such leaves shall not be considered as part of the ministers’ vacations and shall be planned in consultation with their charges or other agencies to which they are appointed as well as the bishop, district superintendent, and annual conference continuing education committee.
So am I renewed? I knew the answer driving north from San Diego when my mind was flooded with ideas about our vision for the future. I say the answer is YES. Now comes the challenge to translate this renewal to action as together we lead our churches to be faithful to the mission God has given us.