Download the Study Leave Application form here.

Click on a heading to read more about planning a sabbatical.

1. Why take a sabbatical?

The prime purpose of a sabbatical is to step back from the everyday work of ministry and provide space for prayerful reflection, professional development and personal enrichment. As such, renewal, retreat and rest are all important elements to take into consideration when planning a sabbatical. It can be a significant time to reflect on your work, and on the way it is shaping you, to look back and look forward, as well as being an opportunity to give concentrated attention and sustained time to a subject or project which matters to you and your future ministry, and which may benefit others in the church.

2. How long is a sabbatical?

Because part of the purpose of a sabbatical is to live in a different rhythm for a while, it is recommended that three months be taken as a block. However, there may be good reasons, given the focus of a particular sabbatical, to take the time in shorter installments, but these are exceptional.

3. Does sabbatical time count as annual leave?

No, holiday or annual leave is distinct from the sabbatical and should not be counted as part of the sabbatical time. In general, it is best to plan your holiday at a separate part of the year to the three months given to the sabbatical. Also, you do not have to have to justify your sabbatical with work. At all costs, avoid the temptation to fill up three months with a succession of busy undertakings.

4. Who can take a sabbatical?

Stipendiary clergy who have been ordained at least ten years are eligible. Prior service in a similar ministry in another diocese or church will normally be recognised. For those exploring the possibility of a second sabbatical, these are normally granted only after a period of at least seven years has elapsed since the last sabbatical. A sabbatical will not usually be granted during the first two years of a new appointment or within two years of retirement. It may, on occasion, be possible to grant a shorter period of ‘study leave’ in order to work on a particular project. Such study leave would need to be discussed first with the relevant Archdeacon and is not eligible for a sabbatical grant. .

5. What is the process for applying for sabbatical leave and funding?

Due to the growing pressure on sabbatical funding, and the decrease in clergy numbers, there are restrictions on the number of sabbaticals available in any one year. Sabbaticals must be applied for at least nine months preceding the requested sabbatical period. Application forms are available below, and a preliminary conversation with the Head of Learning and Ministry Development is recommended. Applications will be considered by the Head of Learning and Ministry Development and The Director of Mission and Ministry, in consultation with the Archdeacons.
Please remember when making plans to:
- think them through carefully with family and friends;
- discuss them with ministerial colleagues (e.g. Churchwardens);
- give thought about letting go of responsibilities and how to take them up again when re-entering the regular working context, perhaps finding creative ways to mark the return.
Before final approval is given, a Sabbatical Proposal document must be submitted to the Head of Learning and Ministry Development. This document can be downloaded here.

6. What about arranging cover?

It is the responsibility of the person asking for the sabbatical to ensure that proper cover is in place for pastoral duties and services during the time of sabbatical. It is expected that PCCs will assist in arranging cover and take responsibility for any costs involved. Those taking a sabbatical will also be asked to consult with their Area Dean and/or Mission Partnership Convenor, to ensure that the deanery/mission partnership is aware of the sabbatical. It is good practice to ensure that any other ministry team members are fully aware of plans well ahead of time and that where a first-post curate/reader is involved, that arrangements have been made for ‘supervision’ for the period of the sabbatical.

7. How much is the grant for a sabbatical?

Licensed, stipendiary clergy will be entitled to a grant of up to £500 (either claimed back piecemeal via expenses, or as a one-off grant of £500). In addition, clergy may use their annual CMD grant towards sabbatical costs. All CMD grants are subject to the agreement of the appropriate Head of Learning and Ministry Development and budget availability. There are additional sources of sabbatical funding, and the following list may be useful:
- The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group: Ministry Bursary Awards Scheme The EIG Bursary Award Scheme is open to those in full time stipendiary ministry in a Christian church and can provide a grant towards a work-related project, contribute to a study course away from a demanding ministry, or support research in the UK or abroad. EIG write that “Due to the nature of their work and the demands of busy ministries, most members of the clergy rarely manage to make sufficient time to carry out imaginative projects to improve their ministries or to simply take time to refresh themselves through a spiritual journey. The Ministry Bursary Awards are here to help them achieve just that.” Successful applicants have used their awards to help fund projects such as travel, study courses and pilgrimages, as well as periods of reflection and retreat. The closing date for applications for awards for each year is generally the end of September of the previous year. For more detail, see the EIG website.
- The Alexis Trust: Small grants (c£50) for Christian based activities. Write to Prof D W Vere, 14 Broadfield Way, Buckhurst Hill, Essex, IG9 5AG.
- The St. George’s Trust: Grants to people involved in the service of the Church of England and churches in communion with it, including clergy grants towards sabbatical expenses. See the Eligibility Checker on their website. Contact details: The Almoner’s Room, 5 St Andrew Street, London EC4A 3AF
- Women may also make applications to: the Women’s Continuing Ministerial Education Trust – contact the Ministry Division at Church House for details, 0207 898 1000.
- One of the things that the Women’s Continuing Ministerial Education Trust generally won’t pay for is travel. But the American Memorial Chapel Travel grant does. The deadline is around the end of September for the following year. It is a grant available to members of the clergy of all denominations to fund travel to the United States. Travel might be undertaken to complete some research, gain some practical experience or share ideas and make useful contacts. The criteria are quite general and their panel are “simply looking for applicants with projects that will make an impact”.
Please do inform the Head of Learning and Ministry Development of any other useful sources of funding you come across so that these can be shared more widely via this website. .

8. How can you get the most out of a sabbatical?

Three important dimensions of a sabbatical are renewal, retreat and rest. While the word ‘sabbatical’ is now used in secular institutions to mean only a time of professional development, in the church, we should not lose sight of its roots in rest and renewal. Every sabbatical will be unique, but it is good to consider these three elements when preparing the proposal.
This is the element of professional and ministerial development which might well take the greatest part of your three months. It is usually the key element in the sabbatical. It can involve some element of learning, probably through study and theological reflection. It should be designed to widen horizons or deepen thinking in a particular area, rather than simply revisiting familiar territory. Most people have some idea of what they want to do with this time, but it is good to ensure that it is something which benefits a variety of needs, including your own ministry now, and in the future, and the wider work of the church.
The sabbatical should include some time for retreat. For some people that may mean going on an organised “Retreat”. But there are other ways of retreating. The principle is that some time of your sabbatical should be set aside for you and your own relationship with God. This means retreating from church, work, family and responsibility to refresh your own personal spiritual life in a way which is best for you. It is wise to discuss this element with your spiritual director or mentor if you have one.
A sabbatical is not a holiday, but it is appropriate and necessary that the three months includes some time of physical rest and refreshment. And ideally, plenty of fun and laughter! It can be helpful to include a few days at the beginning of your time for rest to adjust to a change of pace and prepare yourself to get the best from your sabbatical. But when you take rest is your choice. .

9. What is required for reporting on a sabbatical?

You will be expected to report to the Head of Learning and Ministry Development on your sabbatical when it is completed. This report should include some reference to what has been gained through the different elements of the sabbatical and your own theological reflections and personal learning arising from the time. In addition to this brief report, some people will wish to prepare a longer more detailed report of their work for the benefit of others. This is fine. It is good to give some consideration to how your sabbatical experience may be of use and benefit to the wider church in the Mission Partnership, Deanery or the Diocese. There are also opportunities through the Diocesan Theological Research group to feedback learning in the form of a paper; please see the Head of Learning and Ministry Development if this interests you.  
Here’s a list of those who’ve taken sabbaticals recently, in case you would like to ask them about their experience:


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