Sabbatical Soundings

Sabbatical Soundings

Pastor Matt’s Sabbatical Blog

From August 25 through December 31, 2017, our senior minister, the Rev. Matthew Emery, will be on a sabbatical leave.  Provided for each of our professional staff members after either five or six years of service among us, a sabbatical is a chance to get a break from the routine, day-in and day-out responsibilities of one’s role… an opportunity to step away briefly from the persistent obligations of daily life in a congregation and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection for intentional exploration and reflection, for regaining the enthusiasm and creativity for ministry, for discovering what will make the heart sing.

For Pastor Matt’s sabbatical this year, our congregation was a recipient of one of the Lilly Endowment’s pastoral sabbatical grants through their National Clergy Renewal Program.  The grant offsets some of our congregation’s extra expenses during Matt’s time away, but more importantly provides the funding for Pastor Matt to pursue a very exciting set of activities during his sabbatical centered around the theme of “Voices: Reconnected, Reclaimed, Renewed.”  Across the four months of his leave, he will be seeking to reconnect with the voices of rest, the Spirit, heritage, and music.  Plans include simple time-off for rest, two intentional spiritual retreat periods, and travel to Europe to explore places of significance to the Protestant Reformation heritage as well as have the opportunity to immerse himself in singing with an accomplished choir during a portion of the trip.

Although Pastor Matt will be largely out-of-contact with our congregation while he’s away (that’s part of the point of a sabbatical, after all), he will be posting periodic blog entries to share experiences and reflections from his time.  Feel free to read along and join his journey!

The Blog


Edinburgh October 3, 2017 It’s a lovely, clear, and sunny Tuesday morning here in Cambridge, where the university students are having their first full day of classes for the fall term (the “Michaelmas term,” as it is called here).  I passed my audition for the Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, yesterday and had my first…

A Rather Radical Monastery

A Rather Radical Monastery September 21, 2017 As I wrote in my previous post, I traveled out to the Madison, Wisconsin, area last week.  The trip was primarily for the purpose of spending time in retreat at a place called Holy Wisdom Monastery. Getting away for intentional retreat time is something different even from simply…

A view across the restored prairie at Holy Wisdom Monastery, looking toward Lake Mendota in the distance


Landscaping September 19, 2017 I just got back on Sunday night from a week out in some of my old “stomping grounds,” so to speak—namely, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  The main purpose of my travels was to spend a number of days in retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery near Madison, Wisconsin, and I’ll write…