The Elders Grant Pastor Rick a Sabbatical

A Note from Chair Elder, Mark Johnson.

Mark and Linda JohnsonMark & Linda Johnson

As chairman of the Elders, I shared some news with the congregation this past Sunday. Here is a copy of my report for those of you who were not there.

I began with the announcement of the birth of my 8th grandchild, Eli Benjamin Carter, to Ali and Lance and big brother Jack. This was a great celebration for my family and I was so proud of them as they cared for one another. My daughter-in-law, Kate, left work and family to be there day and night for her sister-in-law, serving her throughout the labor and delivery. My grandson Gideon, at 5 years old, prayed a very specific prayer for two weeks about the birth of his cousin that God answered so wonderfully. And of course, my wife Linda moved in to care for the family. (I just made my request that she be home for Christmas!)

Family is God’s plan for a place for us to grow and flourish. It’s where His love is present as we love and care for each other. And so it is at Wellspring: we are a large family loving and caring for each, expressing God’s love in many ways.

I would describe the Elder Board as the parents of Wellspring. We are responsible for the spiritual life and direction of the church. With God’s help, for sure, we help cast the vision and set the overall direction of Wellspring. As best we can, we represent and shepherd the congregation. When I became an elder more than 30 years ago, we knew everyone, and they knew us. Today, this is very difficult. On Sunday we had the Elders stand so everyone could see who they are; if you were not there, you can see a list of elders with their photos on this page.

I would like to tell you about the practice of having Elders standing in the windows of the balcony every Sunday. More than 15 years ago, in the old sanctuary, we had some people come with the purpose of disrupting our service. In response to this, we made the commitment that we would each take our turn in the balcony giving prayer coverage over the service. We began praying for anyone that God directed our attention to. When we built the new sanctuary, we put two windows in the balcony for the Elders to continue to pray for you. So if you see us there and feel as if you are being watched, you are—but we are there to pray for you as parents should.

Another Elder responsibility that we take very seriously is to oversee, support and care for our pastors. In our September Elder meeting last week we granted Pastor Rick a sabbatical.

The dictionary definition of a sabbatical is “any extended period of leave from one’s customary work, especially for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.” The practice of granting them is common with clergy and with professors in colleges and universities.

We all know that Pastor Rick has been working hard and long on many fronts here at Wellspring and in statewide initiatives. He recently went out to Elijah House ministry to assist him in a process of personal introspection and renewal. He shared some of his experience with Wes, Kevin and with me, specifically the realization that he has expended himself and is in need of rest and renewal. We then brought this to the elder board. Pastor Rick shared his perspective with the elders, and we unanimously agreed that this would be a good time for him to continue this journey with a sabbatical for the next several months.

While Pastor Rick is resting, studying, regrouping, Wes and the rest of the Wellspring staff will continue to lead us forward. Wes told the elders that there hasn’t been a better time in recent years for Rick’s sabbatical than now. Just more of Jehovah-Jireh, our God providing just what we need, when we need it.

Mark Johnson for the Elders

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