Resolution #6: Sabbatical Leave Policy for Clergy

Secretary of the Convention

Last Update
October 25th, 2021

Status
The Convention passed this resolution on October 23rd, 2021.

Resolved, That the 172nd Convention of the Diocese of California approves this Sabbatical Leave Policy proposed by the Executive Council as directed by resolution of the 171st Convention of the Diocese of California; 

Resolved, That the Diocese shall provide up to three months of Sabbatical Leave of religious and professional advancement for Intentional Interim Rectors in the amount of 3 weeks for each year worked in the Diocese, prorated for partial years and less than full time work;

Resolved, That the Sabbatical Leave for Intentional Interim Rectors will reflect compensation and standard benefits received while serving as an Intentional Interim Rector; 

Resolved, That each congregation, while it employs an Intentional Interim Rector, shall contribute, on a prorated basis, funding to the Diocesan sabbatical reserve for the Interim.  The contribution rate shall be set annually in the schedule of clergy mandatory minimum compensation as reviewed and approved by the Convention; 

Resolved, That this policy will be effective January 1, 2022, with those persons serving as Intentional Interim Rectors from that date forward and being credited for time in such position from that date forward;

Resolved, That Intentional Interim Rectors will become eligible to apply for taking sabbatical leave after completing a minimum of four calendar years’ interim ministry in the Diocese following January 1, 2022;

Resolved, That requests and plans for sabbatical leave by Intentional Interim Rectors will be approved by the Bishop, the Ecclesiastical Authority in the Bishop’s stead, or their designee;    

Resolved, That this Convention urges the Transition Minister to continue to maintain language in all Letters of Agreement Templates (e.g., for Rectors, Vicars, Associate Rectors, Interim Rectors, Interim Vicars, Chaplains, and Priests in Charge) that defines Sabbatical Leave, funding of leaves, and conditions for granting a leave and to assure these templates are available on the Diocesan website; and

Resolved, That this Convention urges the Chief Financial Officer to provide training that includes best practices for planning and preparing for the financial aspects of clergy sabbaticals. 

Explanation

Congregations should be accruing for sabbatical leaves as part of best practices in caring for our clergy. 

The Sabbatical Task Force sponsored a resolution titled “Sabbatical Leave Policy for Clergy” at the 171st Convention of the Diocese of California.  The resolution passed Convention, directing the Executive Council to take certain actions related to clergy sabbaticals. The Executive Council formed the Sabbatical Working Group who proposed details of an Intentional Interim Rector Sabbatical Policy.  This proposal was based on the standard Sabbatical Leave clause found in the Rector letter of agreement template.  The outline of this proposal was approved in principle by the Executive Council, and the resolution in its current form was fully approved at the September 21st meeting of Executive Council, immediately prior to the Convention.

This proposal was considered in the 2022 budgeting process with a line item added to the Diocesan budget and an account established to receive contributions to build the Sabbatical Reserve Fund.  After significant deliberation, the Sabbatical Working Group of Executive Council, in ongoing consultation with members of the Finance Committee, determined that the most sustainable approach to funding would rely on receiving prorated contributions from congregations when employing Intentional Interim Rectors. 

This resolution formalizes that work and urges the standardization of sabbatical practices in letter of agreement templates for other clergy.  This work taken together forms the sabbatical policy for the Diocese.

 

FAQs

 

Why does this resolution focus in detail on Intentional Interim Rectors?

Intentional Interim Rectors, because they are following a call to serve their ordained ministry solely as interims, have no recourse to accrue sabbatical leave time except through the Diocese. As the resolution notes, all congregations are urged to include sabbatical leave policies for other clergy in their budget planning and Letters of Agreement.

How much would this policy cost parishes that call Intentional Interim Rectors?

To fund compensation and benefits during an Intentional Interim Rector’s Sabbatical Leave, an accrual to the Sabbatical Leave Fund of 5.8% (or 3/52) of total salary and benefits would become part of the compensation package provided by the parish during the Interim’s service. This formula would be set in the annual clergy salary resolution reviewed and approved by each Convention.

The accrual, like other benefits, would be paid to the Diocese by the parish as part of the regular payroll for the Intentional Interim. (This parallels the sabbatical accrual for a tenured Rector where the amount is not paid to the Diocese, but kept as a reserve in the parish’s funds.) The resulting accumulation of the accruals and withdrawals for Sabbatical Leave for each Intentional Interim would be tracked separately in the fund over time.

Would this cost be mandatory for parishes that call an Intentional Interim Rector?

Yes. The formula for this cost would be included in the mandatory minimum compensation schedule reviewed and adopted each year by the Convention.

When would Intentional Interim Rectors be able to apply for funded Sabbatical Leave?

After having served in interim ministry in the Diocese for four calendar years following January 1, 2022.

 

Would Intentional Interim Rectors be able to draw accrued monies from the Sabbatical Fund for other uses, such as vacation time?

 

No. Monies in the Sabbatical Leave Fund will only be available for use to compensate an eligible Intentional Interim Rector while taking approved Sabbatical Leave time under a plan approved in advance by the Bishop.

 

Would compensation during Sabbatical Leave be counted as income?

 

Yes. Compensation from the Sabbatical Leave Fund received during Sabbatical Leave would be considered income for tax and pension benefit purposes.

See examples of how the Sabbatical Leave Fund accrual is calculated here.

 

Submitted by
Executive Council
Contact: Marj Leeds, 
m-mleeds@comcast.net

Endorsed by

The Southern Alameda Deanery

Reference

171st Convention’s resolution “Sabbatical Leave Policy for Clergy” (2020)

 

SABBATICAL LEAVE POLICY FOR CLERGY

 

Resolved, That the 171st Convention of the Diocese of California directs the Executive Council of the Diocese to prepare and propose to the 172nd Convention a Sabbatical Leave Policy using the findings contained in the Report of the Sabbatical Task Force and in consultation with members of the Sabbatical Task Force;

Resolved, That the proposed Sabbatical Leave Policy shall establish standards and procedures for administering and financing sabbaticals for all paid clergy employed by the Diocese, its congregations and constituent organizations, including sabbatical compensation for Intentional Interim Clergy and model language for letters of agreement between paid clergy and their employers;

Resolved, That the Executive Council, acting as the Board of Directors of the Diocese and with the concurrence of the Bishop, Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer, shall establish a Sabbatical Fund or other suitable financial accounting instrument to receive funds donated or allocated for the purpose of compensating Intentional Interim Clergy;

 

Resolved, That the proposed Sabbatical Leave Policy shall establish eligibility requirements for compensation from the fund established for Intentional Interim Clergy and shall ensure that the fund is financed and maintained in a sound and prudent manner; and

Resolved, That the Committee on Program and Budget and the Executive Council shall add a line item to the budget for 2022 allocating a reasonable amount for contribution to the fund established for the compensation of Intentional Interim Clergy.