Clergy Study Leave
The Diocesan Scheme for Study Leave recognises that for those who have been in ministry for some time, an extended period spent away from their post with its many demands and expectations can be a source of enrichment, providing renewed energy, and fresh perspective and vision.
A well planned study leave will be of enormous benefit to ministers, their families, those they serve, and to the wider church. It is offered by the diocese as a gift, an opportunity to reflect on a theme or topic of your choice, in a setting or settings appropriate to your needs, and should include time for personal refreshment and refuelling.
Normally study leave is granted after no less than ten years in ministry, nor less than ten years since any previous study leave. It is a three month period which is best taken as a whole, but which in some circumstances might be split into two six week blocks.
Permission for study leave is granted by the Diocesan Bishop after the submission of a Study Leave Application which is discussed with staff in the Department for Development and formally signed off by the relevant Area Dean and Archdeacon.
What qualifies as Study Leave?
Some clergy are put off by the label ‘study leave’, believing that it is for the purpose of starting or completing a major academic piece of work. But what counts as appropriate is much wider than that.
All study leave should incorporate an appropriate element of ‘sabbatical’ – a biblical idea. Taking time away from work is a principal set out in Genesis 2 v.3, it is a positive gift, blessed by God and made holy. In Leviticus 25 we read of ‘Sabbath years’ and the idea that the ground should be left untilled so that it can replenish itself, and we recognise this to be true for us too.
Where do I begin?
In order to get the best from a period of study leave you need to formulate a clear idea of how you intend to use the time. It’s likely that there’s some idea you’ve had which you’ve never had time to develop, an area of interest that you’ve not had space to work on, a passion for an area of study you’ve not been able to focus on. Think about what this might be for you, why it’s important to you and your calling in ministry. Ask what you might learn as a result of pursuing this subject and how you might be different at the end of it – bearing in mind that the process exists to facilitate learning which leads to change and growth. If these thoughts stimulate and excite you, you might have the start of a study leave proposal.
The next step would be to contact the Department for Development and speak to Ministry Development Adviser, Jackie Johnson. We can support you through understanding the Study Leave Guidelines and Application Form which can be accessed below, and offer guidance relating to your chosen subject and formulating the project.