- Phone: (202) 558-9745
- Mailing Address: 1616 7th St, NW, Washington DC, 20001
As most of you have already heard we are starting a three month sabbatical this Monday, June 18th. This has been something we have been planning for several years with the support from our TDC Executive Board. Sabbaticals are not vacations but rather intentional seasons of resting in the Lord, very similar to a weekly sabbath, just more extended. This rhythm of work, rest, and play is a God-given rhythm that we see throughout the Bible.
Sabbaticals of some form are common about every 5-7 years for many pastors called to long-term pastorates. One of the things about ministry is that it is difficult to unplug and care for yourself, and with us both being pastors, and living in the heart of the city, we often feel this.
A couple years ago we shared something that has now become a common phrase around our church: “What if we each cared more about who we are becoming this year than what we are accomplishing?” This is quite a countercultural posture in DC, yet it is part of the Christian vocation to realize that God first works in us so that He can then work through us. This revelation began our church’s commitment to soul care that then birthed the SPIRE Plan of intentionally developing a plan each year to care for ourselves spiritually, physically, intellectually, relationally, and emotionally.
As your pastors, we are trying to lead by example in this area. Resting is something that we do not do very naturally! Our church was very fortunate to be selected this last year by the Lilly Foundation to receive a generous grant that is making this sabbatical possible. It is an affirmation of what God is doing in our church and the confidence others have in our future. History shows that churches grow and thrive under long term pastorates, and that clergy health for these pastors should be part of the church growth strategy. The very nature of being an effective pastor involves continual spiritual growth.
Our theme for the Sabbatical is “God Still Speaks.” We will be traveling with our family to the places that Aaron grew up as a kid and sharing how these experiences shaped his own calling to ministry and formed in him the vision to start The District Church. We will also be traveling to some places that shaped Amy at a young age when God put a calling on her life for ministry. Now with Elijah (9 years old) and Natalie (7 years old) we will be seeking to hear God speak to us as a family together and not just hear God individually. We will be traveling this summer to Liberia, Kenya, Kuwait, Israel, Greece, and Spain! And in many of these places we will be visiting with partners of The District Church.
Back here at home we have a great lineup of speakers this summer! J.R. Briggs who is a popular author, pastor, and friend of The District Church, will be preaching several times this summer and investing spiritually in our staff during each visit. He spoke at our Leadership Community Retreat a few years ago and was so well received. J.R. has done a sabbatical himself and coaches many pastors and churches throughout the country on how to intentionally rest in the Lord. He will be kicking off our series on June 24th entitled Hearing God where you all, as a congregation, will be exploring the same themes of prayer and listening to God as we are exploring in our global travels.
This summer, you will also hear from our own TDC leaders, Jordan Gustafson and Cameron Williams and from other area pastors including Devin Turner (Revolution Church), Erin Clifford (Holy Trinity Church & Fuller Seminary), and Drew Hyun (Hope Midtown NYC). And of course, we will continue our summer tradition of our most popular series called My Most Important Question in early August where we hear our own TDC'ers share their stories.
Our leadership and staff are well prepared in this season to serve you guys with anything you need. Robyn Angley who is serving as chair of our Executive Board is available to you. Pastorally, Kimberly Williams and Jordan Gustafson will be very engaged and available. Operationally, Mike Li and Zennah Jones will be leading our staff and the ministry center renovation. And all of the rest of our staff will be available to you as they continue leading ministry teams, small groups, and our outreach to our city and world.
We want to encourage you to see this as a season to press further into our mission as a church. We believe that God has given each and every person spiritual gifts in our church, and that this summer is the opportunity to see those activated to new levels. We want to especially use this season as a chance to grow deeper in our prayer lives and in hearing from God. We believe that God still speaks and that God is going to speak to each and every one of us at TDC this summer!
We will be sending a monthly updates this summer so that you can pray for us and for Elijah and Natalie during our time. We believe this will be such a special summer of spending focused and quality time with them as they expand their worldview and as we spend time with the Lord each day as a family.
In closing, we want you all to know we are so committed to The District Church and to our city here and we are grateful for your support as we take this summer to rest in the Lord.
Together in Christ,
Pastors Aaron & Amy