Resolution #7: Sabbatical Leave Policy for Clergy

Status

ADOPTED BY CONVENTION OCTOBER 17th, 2020
Accepted by the Committee on Resolutions on August 26th, 2020
Updated by the Secretary of the Convention on September 15th, 2020

Resolved, That the 171st Convention of the Diocese of California directs the Executive Council of the Diocese to prepare and propose to the 172nd Convention a Sabbatical Leave Policy using the findings contained in the Report of the Sabbatical Task Force and in consultation with members of the Sabbatical Task Force;

Resolved, That the proposed Sabbatical Leave Policy shall establish standards and procedures for administering and financing sabbaticals for all paid clergy employed by the Diocese, its congregations and constituent organizations, including sabbatical compensation for Intentional Interim Clergy and model language for letters of agreement between paid clergy and their employers;

Resolved, That the Executive Council, acting as the Board of Directors of the Diocese and with the concurrence of the Bishop, Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, shall establish a Sabbatical Fund or other suitable financial accounting instrument to receive funds donated or allocated for the purpose of compensating Intentional Interim Clergy;

Resolved, That the proposed Sabbatical Leave Policy shall establish eligibility requirements for compensation from the fund established for Intentional Interim Clergy and shall ensure that the fund is financed and maintained in a sound and prudent manner; and

Resolved, That the Committee on Program and Budget and the Executive Council shall add a line item to the budget for 2022 allocating a reasonable amount for contribution to the fund established for the compensation of Intentional Interim Clergy.

Explanation


The full Sabbatical Task Force Report is available here.
An appendix to the Task Force Report is also available.


“The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel offers this gem that is well understood and accepted throughout the Episcopal Church ministry. The reality is that not all ordained clergy are eligible to take sabbath or sabbatical. This task force has outlined a path forward to extend the spiritual refreshment of sabbatical to Intentional Interim Clergy. 

Walking through the current state of Interim Ministry in the Diocese of California highlights the constancy of years worked without benefit of sabbatical refreshment by, primarily women, clergy who do not have access to sabbatical leave guidelines or policies or financial assistance. We narrowed our terms to only highlight Intentional Interim Clergy yet also note that many ordained clergy in many ministry areas find themselves outside the current scope of “who is or is not eligible” for sabbatical leave.

As an accepted and expected benefit offered to ordained clergy serving in Parish Ministry positions of Rector and/or Associate/Assistant, the sabbatical leave is often negotiated at the outset of a new contract. With the unique contract of the Intentional Interim Clergy this benefit has been overlooked and thus denied to clergy who contract on shorter terms with multiple parishes over many years, thus the need to include the diocese and transition offices in establishing a level field for sabbatical leave policies.

We recommend passage of the resolution to direct the Executive Council to propose a sabbatical leave policy for all clergy with sabbatical funding for Intentional Interim Clergy.

Contact

Emily Hopkins, Delegate, St. Paul’s Walnut Creek, emilyhopkins4@gmail.com

Submitted By

The Sabbatical Task Force

Emily Hopkins, Chair of the Task Force; Delegate, St. Paul’s Walnut Creek
Rev. Audrey Miskelley, Interim Rector, St. Michael and All Angels Concord and St. John’s Clayton
The Reverend Beth Lind Foote, Interim Rector, All Saints Episcopal Church, San Francisco
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Hassett, Rector, St Stephen’s, Orinda
The Rev. Cameron Partridge, Rector, St. Aidan’s, San Francisco
Ms. Mary Jane Wood, Advisor to the Task Force; Delegate, St. Paul’s Walnut Creek
Rev. Christine Trainor, Associate Rector, St Stephen’s Church, Tiburon-Belvedere

Comments

While I completely support the resolution for Interim Clergy, I would hope that this would also be a time to address paid sabbatical leave for our Deacons. Most of our deacons serve without pay and devote hours and hours to congregations and other diocesan ministries. Could the Committee pleae consider broadening this so that ALL clergy (Associates, Assistants and our DEACONS might partake of “The Sabbath AS a day for the sake of life.” Thank you

I am proposing striking the last resolved: "Resolved, That the Committee on Program and Budget and the Executive Council shall add a line item to the budget for 2021 allocating a reasonable amount for contribution to the fund established for the compensation of Intentional Interim Clergy."

Explanation:

This resolution directs the Executive Council of the Diocese to prepare and propose to the 172nd Convention in 2021 a Sabbatical Leave Policy. This proposed policy has not yet been drafted or approved, therefore funding for such should not be a consideration at this year’s Convention.

When the actual policy is presented and voted on at the 172nd Convention in 2021, that would be the appropriate time to consider an addition to the diocesan budget for this purpose. However, it should not be added to the 2022 budget, as by the Day of Convention the budget will have already been prepared and approved by the Program & Budget Committee, Finance Committee and Executive Council and will be voted on that day. Rather, the addition should be proposed for the 2023 budget.

Dear Rev. Melanie, thank you for your support and comments. Please see our report, especially the section "Rationale, Purpose, and Importance of Sabbatical,"
where we share your concern about deacons. The resolution calls for an overall policy (which could address deacons and other clergy roles), and specifically calls for the creation of a fund to support interim clergy in their sabbatical. And let me know if you would like to discuss with our task force. Sincerely, Emily

I worked with the proponents of this resolution on behalf of the Committee on Resolutions. The last resolved clause does contain an error; it should specify the 2022 budget rather than the 2021 budget. The clause arose out of a concern that the 2021 Convention could be in the position of adopting a new policy without having any funding for it for another whole year, that is, until the 2022 convention adopts a budget for 2023. Although it is possible that the Executive Council could come up with a funding proposal that does not involve the budget, that seems unlikely. Inclusion of this clause signals to Executive Council that it is the intention of Convention that at least a portion of the funding be included in the budget and that funding begin as soon as the new policy goes into effect. It does not require that all funding come from the budget. If the Executive Council finds a creative way to fund sabbaticals for interim clergy without involving the budget, it could propose zero as the “reasonable amount” for 2022.

Dear Rev. Justin,
Thank you for your comments. Our task force is consulting with Executive Council and others about proposed changes to our resolution. Please let me know if you would like to discuss this with me directly. Sincerely, Emily

At the Task Force’s request, I have made a technical correction in the final clause of the resolution, “...Executive Council shall add a line item to the budget for 2021 2022...”

Br. Richard Edward Helmer

Secretary of the Convention

 

I am withdrawing my proposed amendment.

This legislation passed by a vote of Yes - 198 and No - 16.

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