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My practice of Sabbath took a dramatic turn when I took a two-year study leave from parish ministry.  During that time I was once again sitting in the pew on Sunday mornings.  Those two years of Sundays took me back to the routine of my childhood:  worship, Sunday School, a table full of excellent dishes prepared by my mother, and a take-it-easy afternoon with family.  I prefer celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday; however, now that I am once again serving in a church, I am practicing Sabbath on Fridays.  I do very little on Fridays.  I don’t shop.  My current appointment is much closer to my parents, so most Fridays I spend time with my parents. I have a tendency to be task oriented and tasks can be never-ending.  Keeping these tasks at bay can be a challenge for me on Sabbath.  Practicing Sabbath is a necessary reminder that life is not all about work.  For me, ministry can be a guilt producing endeavor since there is always more that could be done.  But the God who loves us infinitely has commanded that once a week we refrain from our usual activities and instead rest.  I think that the Duke Clergy Health Initiative and the North Carolina Conference’s focus on Sabbath echoes God’s commandment and in a sense provides another layer of permission for pastors to live by Sabbath rhythms.  I hope my practice of Sabbath provides encouragement for my colleagues and parishioners.  Sabbath is a key ingredient in our relationship with God, our physical and mental health, our relationships with one another, and the health of the world.

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Tracy Clayton:    (B.S. Public Health and MHA, UNC-Chapel Hill; M.Div., Duke Divinity School; D. Min. in Spiritual Direction, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary) is an ordained elder in the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. In 2014, Tracy completed a two-year study leave in which she received a D. Min. and two units of Clinical Pastoral Education.  Since July 2014 she has been serving Phillips Chapel United Methodist Church.
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