A chance for a sabbatical ?

Most clergy and licensed lay workers lead busy lives, often living “over the shop”, available and on call even when not working. Personal needs and aspirations easily get pushed aside by the demands of the role or the needs of others. Bigger projects, wider perspectives, can loose out to the round of day to day responsibilities.

The Diocesan scheme for sabbatical leave recognises that for those who have been in ministry for some time a serious block of time spent away from their post and its immediate demands can be a source of enrichment, new experiences and energy, different perspectives and fresh vision.

Prospective applicants are sometimes deterred by anticipated difficulties such as:

  • Finding adequate pastoral cover.
  • Reactions within the parish.
  • Leaving the parsonage empty for long periods.
  • The danger of additional burdens on spouse and family.
  • Difficulty in obtaining funding.

With sufficient preparation these can nearly always be overcome.

Properly planned and reflected on, sabbatical leave can be of enormous benefit to ministers, their families and those they serve, and to the wider Church.

Who qualifies ?

Applicants for sabbatical leave are expected to follow the procedure listed below and (normally) have not less than

  • eight years in licensed ministry.
  • three years in current post.
  • seven years since a previous sabbatical.
  • three years before retirement age.

How long is a sabbatical ?

The usual (and maximum) period of leave is three months. While shorter periods of study leave are useful, the length of time away from day to day pressures is part of the particular value of a sabbatical and it should not normally be less than eight weeks.

But what will I do ?

Your ideas may be vague at first. It is worth giving them time to evolve. Talking to the CMD Officer will help. Some people have a clear task in mind from the start, but good sabbaticals also allow space “for reflection [and] discovery”; perhaps for the usually neglected or suppressed in you to surface.

They often have more than one strand “the walking as well as the reading, the woodwork as well as the prayer” giving an opportunity to nourish different parts of the self, and sometimes discover surprising interactions and resonances. The scope is wide and every sabbatical is different.


The CMD Officer may authorise a Sabbatical Grant from the Training Fund. This will normally be not more than £500.

For more information, please e-mail: jane.maycock@cumbriachristianlearning.org.uk or admin@cumbriachristianlearning.org.uk