Sabbatical Summer

Sabbatical Summer

Our sabbatical summer is a time to slow down, reflect, and reconnect after the exhausting years during this pandemic. Pastor Jason will take some time away, and we’ll find ways to reconnect with each other following a time of exclusively being a virtual church. Learn more below about our Sabbatical Summer experience!

What do you mean by “Sabbatical?”

The word “sabbatical” comes from the word “sabbath,” which is a day of rest dedicated to God. The concept of a sabbatical is based on the Biblical practice of shmita (sabbatical year). This is a time where the land was allowed to rest, to be renewed, and only the most basic preventive measures were done but nothing that would improve the growth of the fields. It is a time to sustain so as to allow for the future to burst forth with renewed energy and growth.

“There is ample testimony in both the Bible and the Judeo-Christian tradition that, when we are engaged in Sabbath, when we are engaged in intentional rest and renewal, we are in fact close to the heart of the faith itself.”

Robert C. Saler in “Planning Sabbaticals: A Guide for Congregations and Their Pastors”

What doES Our “Sabbatical Summer” look like at WPLC?

The Sabbatical Summer will begin on Friday, May 6 and conclude on Sunday, August 28. It will be a time where we slow down and sustain our ministry. There won’t be any big projects, we’ll be pausing educational classes, and we’ll mainly be focusing on fellowship and worship.

You’ll also notice that Pastor Jason will be away from the church taking time for rest, renewal, and spiritual work. Our denomination recommends that pastors consider taking a sabbatical every 5-7 years. Pastor Jason has been at WPLC for about 8.5 years, and the time is right for our congregation to experience this collective time of renewal.

Below are a few ways you can expect things to look a little different:

  • A lot of the same–there will be high-liturgical worship, hymns, prayers, preaching, and a family-friendly environment
  • Various worship leaders and presiders including Vicar Jason Fugate, Rev. Tom Gehring, and Rev. Kyle Severson (Associate to the Bishop of Metropolitan Chicago Synod)
  • A shorter, more simplistic service with less baptisms and special elements.

  • Join us walking in the Pride Parade on June 26 after worship. Contact Sarah Swagler for details (sarah.swagler@gmail.com)
  • We're hosting a movie at Wicker Park in conjunction with the Chicago Park District. Help staff our table as we share about WPLC during Hairspray on Thursday, July 21 around 7 p.m. Contact Caroline Magnesen (caroline.magnesen@gmail.com) for details and to help out.
  • Bring a friend or family member to any event!

    • Serving with The Night Ministry continues every second Thursday
    • Help with our worship services
    • Donate towards our "God's Work. Our Hands. Sunday" project - details here

Indicate your willingness to serve in any of these roles here.

  • Children ages 5-10 are welcome to Sunday School on May 1 and May 15 (summer break during June-August)
  • Join Pastor Jason in reading "Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It" Contact Annette in the church office (office@wickerparklutheran.org or 773-276-0263) if you'd like a free copy.
  • RSVP for one of our fall classes, including for baptism, first communion, confirmation, and WPLC basics (new members) - click here

  • Every second and fourth Sunday, join in outdoor fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting)
  • Attend our WPLC Picnic on Saturday, June 11 and Saturday, August 13 from 2-5 p.m. at the Humboldt Park Boathouse. Contact Andy Park (apark1790@gmail.com) for more information and details.
  • Join our Facebook group to keep up-to-date on other events - click here
  • Signup here for a "Meet & Eat" group by April 30 to participate over the summer (new groups will form in the fall)

What is the calendar of events?

Sunday, May 1 (after worship)Sending of Pastor Jason & beginning of the "Sabbatical Summer" launch event and fellowship time

Sunday, May 8 (after worship)Fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting) hosted by the Congregation Council

Thursday, May 12 (evening) - serve with The Night Ministry. Contact Maria Edstrom for details (medstrom2003@yahoo.com)

Sunday, May 15 (during worship) - Sunday School for ages 5-10

Sunday, May 22 (after worship)Fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting) hosted by the Congregation Council

Sunday, June 5 (during worship) – Pentecost Sunday and Vicar Jason Fugate's final service at WPLC

Thursday, June 9 (evening) - serve with The Night Ministry. Contact Maria Edstrom for details (medstrom2003@yahoo.com)

Saturday, June 11 (2-5 p.m.) – WPLC Picnic at the Humboldt Park Boathouse. Contact Andy Park for more information (apark1790@gmail.com)

Sunday, June 12 (after worship)Fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting) hosted by the Antiracism Committee for Transformation in honor of Loving Day

Sunday, June 26 (after worship)Fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting) hosted by the Congregation Council

Sunday, June 26 (after worship)Walk in the Pride Parade with WPLC and the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches- contact Sarah Swagler for details (sarah.swagler@gmail.com)

Sunday, July 10 (after worship)Fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting) hosted by the Congregation Council

Thursday, July 14 (evening) - serve with The Night Ministry. Contact Maria Edstrom for details (medstrom2003@yahoo.com)

Thursday, July 21 (~7 p.m.) - Hosting a Movie in the Park with the Chicago Park District. Help staff our table as we share about WPLC during Hairspray on Thursday, July 21 around 7 p.m. Contact Caroline Magnesen for details and to help out (caroline.magnesen@gmail.com).

Sunday, July 24 (after worship)Fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting) hosted by the Congregation Council

Thursday, August 11 (evening) - serve with The Night Ministry. Contact Maria Edstrom for details (medstrom2003@yahoo.com)

Saturday, August 13 (2-5 p.m.) – WPLC Picnic at the Humboldt Park Boathouse. Contact Andy Park for more information (apark1790@gmail.com)

Sunday, August 14 (after worship)Fellowship time in the Gathering Garden (weather permitting) hosted by the Congregation Council

Sunday, August 28 (after worship) - "Welcome back" fellowship time with Pastor Jason

What Is Pastor Jason Doing?

Pastor Jason will be spending some time reading, reflecting, learning, and relaxing. He may send a letter or video a few times throughout his sabbatical to share what he’s been doing and learning. A few things he’ll be up to include:

  • Attending the Festival of Homiletics
  • Representing the Metropolitan Chicago Synod at the Churchwide Assembly
  • Spending 2.5 weeks in Andalusia, Spain practicing Spanish and studying the history of interfaith societies living together in harmony and also demonizing each other in different periods of history
  • Living with the brothers at St. Augustine’s House (a Lutheran Monastery in Michigan)
  • Developing a relationship with a spiritual director
  • Taking a pottery class
  • Reading and relaxing
  • Spending time with family and friends

Frequently Asked Questions

During the Sabbatical Summer, Pastor Jason will not be responding to phone calls, texts, or emails from the congregation. This is a time where we will will be shift our normal cadence and resting in God's presence. There are others who will be available if you need support or help. Please refrain from contacting Pastor Jason during the Sabbatical Summer.

The Congregation Council and Pastor Jason have worked to ensure everything is covered for our liturgical life together.

  • Weddings will be officiated by other Lutheran pastors in Chicago. Contact Annette in the office at office@wickerparklutheran.org or 773-276-0263 to discuss.
  • Funerals will be covered by either Vicar Jason or Rev. Erin Coleman Branchaud from St. Luke Lutheran Church in Logan Square. Call our pastoral emergency line at 773-609-5285 and leave a message.
  • Baptisms will be scheduled during Vicar Jason's time in May or after Pastor Jason returns. Click here to sign up for a baptism class in the fall.
  • Our Sunday worship will be led by either Vicar Jason, Rev. Kyle Severson from the synod office, or Rev. Tom Gehring.

We would love to talk with you about it! In fact, we've got dates on the calendars for most of these things.

Learn more about the classes and dates here.

As always, please call the pastoral emergency line at 773-609-5285 and leave a message. We will ensure that the message is given to either Vicar Jason during May or Rev. Erin Coleman Branchaud during June, July, and August.

Great question! Probably the easiest way to find out who is covering what is to email or call Annette in the church office. Her email is office@wickerparklutheran.org and the phone number is 773-276-0263.

If there is a building emergency or pastoral care emergency (death or hospitalization) please call the pastoral emergency number at 773-609-5285.

No. Some activities during Pastor Jason's sabbatical might look like things you'd do on vacation. The difference between vacation and sabbatical has to do with intent and purpose. This is about a renewal and study for Pastor Jason, and it's about renewal for the congregation! This is not simply something for Pastor Jason, this is something for the whole congregation!

No way! WPLC has been around since 1879–that's 143 years–3.5 months won't make it crumble. On top of that, the Congregation Council, the staff, and Pastor Jason have been planning this for almost 18 months! We have everything covered with lay leaders, staff, and outside pastoral support. So, join us in this renewal process and see how the spirit moves in our midst.

During the congregation meeting in January, the congregation unanimously approved Pastor Jason sabbatical. Back in 2021, we had some year-end surplus funds that were set aside for situations such as these. Additionally, Pastor Jason applied for and received a grant from the Metropolitan Chicago Synod that is helping to fund activities for both the congregation and his sabbatical experience. So, the roughly $5,000 additional funds needed to pay for Pastor Jason's coverage is already earmarked and ready to go.

No worries! We're here to answer them.

Through May 5, you're welcome to contact Pastor Jason at pastor@wickerparklutheran.org or 773-276-0263.

After May 5, contact our vice-president, Nora Militz, at vp@wickerparklutheran.org or the Executive Committee at exec@wickerparklutheran.org.