Taking vacation time is part of self-care

Rev. Shelly Petz


Christ is Risen indeed! Clergy of the Great Plains Conference, thank you for your incredible ministry, and especially the intentional work of planning, preparing and leading for Holy Week. Thank you for the multitude of ways you allow God to work through you in all that you do. 

I hope that you also have/will take Sabbath time following these Holy Days. Jesus knew the importance of drawing away from the crowds and all of the important demands of ministry to spend time with God. In doing so, he became fully available when he returned. 

I also invite you to consider your rhythm of vacation, and extended Sabbath could look like. Did you know that pastors of the Great Plains Conference receive a minimum of four weeks of vacation every year? You can see below for the Conference Vacation Policy for Pastors. If you have not taken your vacation in a while, I encourage you to consider what it would take to make this possible. For those who do take their vacation time, I also invite you to consider how it is working for you, and if there is anything else you may need to consider to truly make it a time away from the work at hand and giving yourself permission to make it known who will be covering for you in your absence, and that you do not need to answer phone calls, texts or emails during this time. 

Burnout is real. Spiritual, mental and physical health challenges are real. In talking with various clergy about what they have faced personally and professionally over the past two years, I see the toll that it has taken on some colleagues. I also know that sometimes it is hard to leave behind the people, situations, and ministry of which you care so deeply. My hope and prayer for each of you is that you will take care of your faith and wellness as you lead others to do the same. 

Need clergy support? Here is a resource page you can check out created just for you: https://www.greatplainsumc.org/clergy-support 

Not sure where to start or would like to talk with someone? Let me know. The care of your soul is important. 

Grace and peace, 
--Rev. Shelly Petz 
Clergy Faith and Wellness 
Great Plains Conference 
Vacation Policy for Pastors
The annual conference session made a change to the clergy vacation policy that became effective July 1, 2016. 
Under the policy, all clergy members receive a minimum of four weeks of vacation, including Sundays (28 days, including four Sundays). Churches may provide more vacation time, but four weeks is the minimum allotment. The policy encourages clergy to take all of their vacation time each year to help avoid burnout, but a provision has been made for accumulating additional vacation time that caps the amount accrued to 1 ½ times the total amount earned in a year. 
In other words, if a church allows the minimum of four weeks of vacation time, and the pastor takes no vacation time in one appointive year, he or she then can only accumulate two additional weeks, for a maximum of six weeks. He or she would not accrue any more vacation time until the pastor has used some of the time already accrued and would have to wait until the next appointive year to accrue any further vacation time. 
Also, as part of the policy, all earned vacation time will be paid upon termination of employment, including but not limited to a change of appointment. A local church may require a pastor to use the final weeks of an appointment as vacation rather than paying for unused vacation time. 
To ensure vacation time is being recorded properly, it is expected that the Staff-Parish Relations Committee chair and/or staff person who keeps personnel records be notified when vacation time is used and that the information is recorded. Download this form, for a suggested means of recording used vacation time.