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  • Nick Hatch

A Season for Renewal and Discernment: Pastor Nick's Sabbatical

Pastor Nick is taking a sabbatical? It’s true and hard to believe but I am now in my twelfth year of full-time ministry here at FCUCC! What a blessing these years have been in so many ways. I have been challenged to grow professionally, spiritually, and emotionally by our gifted and faithful congregation. Along the way we have created many memories together and witnessed the power of God’s transformative love as we sought to minister to one another and the world. And as with every faithful person (including Jesus) there are times where we must pause and renew ourselves to prepare for our next chapters.

It is the policy here at FCUCC that after five years in ministry clergy are eligible for a sabbatical which can be taken as three continuous months away. I am in my fifth year and have presented my sabbatical plans to our Church Council. Here are a couple questions you might have:

  1. What will we do without Nick? Don’t worry! In collaboration with our Rev. Dr. Susan Cartmell, Pastor Mary Jo, and our Director of MS Youth Children’s Ministry Sarah Wilterdink, we established a plan for pastoral and programmatic coverage while I am away. This includes bringing in Summer Intern, Derek Elkins, Director of Spiritual Life and Chaplain at who is a FCUCC member and Chaplain at Thank you, Derek)! You are in good hands.

  2. What will Nick be doing? The stated purpose of my sabbatical is to renew and re-energize myself for pastoral ministry to be a supportive and encouraging colleague. This is especially important given that we anticipate welcoming two new clergy into our community very soon. I will also take time to discern how best to use my gifts and talents in our community of faith, First Congregational United Church of Christ Appleton.

  3. When will Nick be gone? I plan on being away June 19-September 9th. My sabbatical proposal includes rest, study, and renewal. A portion of this time will be formal education. I will be engaging in individuality in a month-long bible study on the Book of Psalms I will attend a 4-day Celtic Spirituality retreat with John Philip Newell in Connecticut. Here we will pray using ancient Celtic chants meant to re-center ourselves upon the Spirit. I will also investigate and put together a continuing education plan for the next 5-7 years that can help feed me and our church through outside study and retreat. Another portion of my sabbatical will be renewal and healing. I will enjoy spending time in creation, having some wilderness time, making cherished memories, re-connecting with myself, and having space to be creative. Lastly, my sabbatical time will literally be to rest, work out, eat well, and focus on my sleep habits.

After a long sequence of difficult transitions and leadership challenges, this sabbatical will be a time for me to nurture my spiritual and emotional health. The timing of this works well to welcome new colleagues and new forms of ministry. I hope the near future will bring a new sense of stability to our community, our relationships, and our special purpose to be a progressive Christian voice in the Fox Valley.

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