A Season of Spiritual Renewal

An opportunity to connect and reconnect with each other and with God

The theme of our sabbatical is Reconnecting and Connecting with people and with God.  Activities have been planned with the intention of helping us to fulfill the theme and to connect with the activities in which Brent will participate: connecting with loved ones, self, God, nature, space.

We are a congregation made up of people who are new, folks who have been here for a few years and others who have been with us for 50 or more years. We are from different backgrounds, geographic locations, and cultures; a diverse group of people who are seeking to grow closer to one another and to God. Some of us know some people well and don’t know others’ names. Some we have met but have not had the opportunity to get truly know them. We have been physically far from each other and are learning how to re-emerge.

As we go on this sabbatical sojourn together, we are hopeful that because of our connections we will have a clearer understanding of the vocation of First Baptist Church. We pray we will learn how to better serve one another and the wider community. We believe it is in knowing others more fully that we can better minister in the name of the Christ, following the loving way of Jesus and answering “yes” to God’s call.


Sabbatical Pastor

Reverend Katherine Blaisdell (Seasonal Minister of Spiritual Formation) will serve as FBC’s Sabbatical Pastor while Reverend Brent Newberry will be on sabbatical. She will take care of the pastoral needs of the congregation while Brent is away. Her familiarity with FBC makes her ideally suited for this role.

Wesley Harrison Hall (Minister of Music and the Arts) will work with Ray Stemplys (Director of Operations and Communications) to address administrative responsibilities during this time.


Sabbatical Events

  • Throughout sabbatical: Walk-a-thon Fundraiser for the Zooey Fund
  • Sunday, August 20, 10am: Blessing of the Animals Service
  • Friday, September 15, 7pm: Game Night
  • Friday, September 22, 7pm: Chapel Open Mic Night
  • Sunday, October 15, 12pm: A Walk in Institute Park
  • Friday, October 27, 7pm: Sharing Our Stories
  • Saturday, November 4, 11am: Trip to the Planetarium at the EcoTarium
  • Friday, November 14, 6:30pm: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” and Concert
  • Sunday, December 3, 10am: Celebrations of Reconnection

Questions & Answers


What is a Sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a period of time away from the day-to-day responsibilities of one’s job. Most often, sabbaticals are offered in congregational or academic settings, and they range anywhere from 3-12 months. In academic spaces, a professor is given more time, ironically, to work on another project(s). In congregational settings, a sabbatical more often reflects the original intention of sabbath-rest in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Old and New Testaments in our Bibles). That is, to rest for the sake of rest itself.

What is the purpose for the Season of Renewal?

While it may seem passive to those of us who have been hardwired to view work as an essential part of our identity and rhythm, rest is a very intentional act of resistance to the pressures, priorities, and values of the broader culture around us. A Season of Renewal is a deliberate decision to recalibrate our focus and repurpose our energy toward things that enhance our well-being and joy, rather than giving our very best to our jobs. This shift in thinking and practice will generate a rhythm that is renewing to our spirits, our relationships, our faith, and overall well-being.

Renewal then, is not a means toward productivity and more work (or the usual metrics of success), but the journey and end in itself. This is because renewal is a byproduct of our reconnection with our humanity and God-given curiosity, wonder, delight, imagination, hopes, and dreams... Sabbath/rest as a regular rhythm in our lives enables us to reconnect with God, with our neighbors, and with our real purpose for living.


What will Brent be doing?

In line with the overall theme of connection and reconnection, Brent will venture to do some "storyliving." He will be connecting with some of the places he has previously lived; connecting with friends, family, and my partner, Kelsey; and connecting with God through things beyond himself and loved ones, like nature, animals, space, history, adventure, etc.

What will FBC be doing?

Events have been planned that will provide opportunities for fun and learning, where relationships can grow, and where we will be nourished to better be able to serve with a Christ-like presence in God’s kin-dom. they will be experiences to intentionally get to know each other better in fun and meaningful ways. Our goal is to connect with those we don’t know and to reconnect with those we may not have seen in a while. In other words, to answer the question: FBC – Who?


During our many discussions of sabbatical a couple of years ago, the theme of connection rose to the top. We realized we need to be intentional about re-connecting and connecting with each other and with God. We view this time of renewal as beneficial for the congregation and the pastor because it is a time, as English poet Matthew Holloway wrote, “…to breathe, to re-evaluate the world, take stock of thoughts and reassess them, allow the soul to rest, the heart to sleep and the mind to be free…” It is a time to continue to connect and re-connect with one another and our world following a time of isolation. Additionally, when we come back together, our hope is for renewed spirit and energy to follow the way of the Christ in shared ministry with our pastor, our staff, and ourselves

Who do I contact if I need pastoral care?

As Sabbatical Pastor, Rev. Katherine will be responsible for the pastoral needs of the congregation. To contact her, call the church office at 508-755-6143 or email at info@fbc-worc.org

How is the Season of Renewal being funded?

A sabbatical grant was awarded to the First Baptist Church of Worcester after we applied for a Clergy Renewal Grant through Christian Theological Seminary via the Lilly Foundation. This grant will pay for Brent's expenses while he is away and will fund the sabbatical activities here at FBC.

Who do I go to if I have more questions?

If you have more questions, contact Barbara Ward, Sabbatical Coordinator; or the FBC office at 508-755-6143 or info@fbc-worc.org