by Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, 9/11/14

As many of you know, I’ve just returned from a six-week sabbatical. My “rest from work” included times of worship, rehearsal, travel, moving Chase into college, prayer, more travel and, yes, some time of rest. I missed the routine of my daily church life and I missed all of you, but I so enjoyed my time of rest and renewal and I thank you all for giving me this opportunity.
 
Throughout the sabbatical, I worshiped in churches from Christ Episcopal on Saint Simon’s Island to the Ettal Abbey and Monastery in Germany. I even worshiped in churches “on the other side of the river,” right here in Macon. I also attended choir rehearsals, to see how other folks lead their choirs, at FBC Macon, FBC Gainesville, and Mulberry Methodist…thanks Stanley, Mark, and Cam. I enjoyed singing in the choir again and being led by such excellent musicians.
 
I went to the beach, spent time with my family, read some great books, walked the dog, forgot what day it was, became an empty nester (something I don’t care for yet), and spent a week with my brother Clark in Germany. Yes, Germany. We traveled all over the southern part of the country visiting beautiful cities and historic places. America doesn’t really have any “historic” places yet. I even got to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle, better known as Cinderella’s Castle. One of the highlights of my trip was getting to sing with my brother in the Liederkranz Schlaitdorf, the Men’s Choir of Schlaitdorf, in the town where my brother lives. Of course, everything was in German, which made it even more fun. The choir has been singing for 125 years and Clark is the first American to ever sing in it. One of the baritone choir members named Klaus sat beside me and shared his music with me. His German was impeccable. His note reading was pretty good, too. He didn’t know I could read music, so he pointed to the music a few times to help me keep up. It was very thoughtful of him.
 
In my 28 years of ministry, I’ve never had a sabbatical. I’ve heard other ministers and professors share their sabbatical experiences but had never experienced it for myself. I now can say that I have experienced this “intentional time of rest and renewal” and can say wholeheartedly that I loved it. I feel refreshed, renewed, and restored and I owe it all to a loving congregation who knows how to care for its ministers and each other. Your thoughtfulness and generosity were part of the sabbatical process for me too.
 
I thank each of you for giving me this time away. I also want to thank Jake and the rest of the church staff, who picked up the slack while I was gone. I want to thank Lucy Jordan for joining the staff and jumping right in to work with the youth in my absence. Finally, I want to thank Dr. David Keith for his insightful leadership in worship and with the choir. I look forward to studying with Dr. Keith myself in the coming weeks. You all are a blessing to me.
 
In a few weeks, I’ll be sharing my sabbatical experience and a ton of pictures with you during our Wednesday night service. I look forward to taking you with me on this wonderful journey. Rest up…we’ve got a lot to talk about and lot of places to visit.