The Servant Leadership Council of OTCC has granted sabbatical leaves for Pastor Phil in 2022 and Pastor Brian in 2023. Each pastor will be granted six weeks of sabbatical leave with the permission to add time to be taken from their annual allotment of vacation time. Pastor Phil will be on sabbatical from July 5-September 5, 2022. Pastor Brian will schedule his 2023 sabbatical later this year.


The purpose of a sabbatical is…

  • To give the pastor an extended time to rest, recreate, reflect and refocus on their personal relationship with Jesus, their family and their calling.
  • To give the pastor the chance to get out of the daily details and weekly pressures long enough to see the big picture.
  • To invest in the spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health of the pastor and their family. We believe it is better to do this proactively so that they operate out of rest (this is God’s intention for sabbath) rather than reactively out of weariness, burnout or sickness.
  • For the sake of the congregation. A sabbatical causes other leaders in the church to rise up to new responsibilities; it allows the church to lessen their dependence on a single leader; it gives the church an opportunity to hear from other voices, and it motivates the pastor and staff to prepare others to lead in their absence.


OTCC Sabbatical FAQs

What is a Pastor’s Sabbatical?

The word sabbatical has its roots in the Biblical concept of Sabbath (“to rest” or “to cease”). Sabbath keeping is setting aside time that God consecrates and makes holy. Sabbath includes elements of rest, disengagement, study, exploration, reflection and prayer. A pastor’s sabbatical is a time designated for the pastor to remove himself or herself from the routines of regular ministry and to experience a change in perspective, to receive spiritual nourishment, and to deepen one’s relationship with God.

How is a pastor’s sabbatical different from a regular vacation?

vacation is typically a week or a few weeks of leisure and recreation, and a respite from our work. Despite contingency planning, a vacationing pastor may be contacted on occasion for an unforeseen crisis.

A pastoral sabbatical is an extended period of leave, usually lasting several months. According to the Clergy Renewal Program of the Lilly Foundation, “Renewal periods are not vacations, but times for intentional exploration and reflection, for regaining the enthusiasm and creativity for ministry, for discovering what will make the pastor’s heart sing.” The purpose of the sabbatical is to allow the pastor to temporarily step away from their church long enough to be able to engage deeply in a process of discernment and renewal. It is a time for discovering, imagining, visioning, and restoring his [or her] sense of call to ministry.

Will the pastor be available for calls, emails, or text messages while he is on leave?

Pastors on sabbatical leave are encouraged to “unplug” completely from communication with the congregation. Our pastors are on-call 24/7 and frequently have pastoral responsibilities arise on days off and regular vacations. Our genuine hope is to grant this sacred time as a way for them to experience a different and deeper rhythm of rest for the purpose of spiritual renewal.

Who will handle pastoral responsibilities while Pastor Phil is away?

Pastors Phil and Brian operate as a team in their leadership of the congregation. The congregation will be in great hands while Pastor Phil is away. Pastor Brian will preach most of the weeks that Pastor Phil is on leave and will handle pastoral emergencies, funerals, baptisms, counseling, communion, etc. The SLC, Deacons, and other lay leaders will be empowered to assist as well.

What does Pastor Phil intend to do while he is on sabbatical?

Pastor Phil has developed four goals for his sabbatical:

  • Rest and renewal. Pastor Phil plans to spend the majority of the time in rest, renewal, and spiritual reflection.
  • Mission connections. While in Lisbon, Pastor Phil and his family will visit missionaries to reconnect with mission work OTCC has engaged in previous years prior to Covid.
  • Worship with churches of various denominational traditions and ethnicities.
  • Intentional time of reflection for future ministry endeavors. Pastor Phil will turn 60 this year and he has stated a desire to use a portion of this time to intentionally reflect on how God wants him to prepare for ministry in his post-retirement years. (5-8 years away)


For additional questions please contact SLC chairman Carl Patton @

*Adapted from multiple resources including information from: The Northstar Church Network, Open Bible Churches (Pacific), Christ Church Presbyterian, Jacksonville, FPC of Yorktown.