On a warm Monday morning in August, eleven North Georgia United Methodist clergy gathered at Cane Creek Farm in Cumming, Georgia. The group was welcomed by site hosts, Chuck and Lynn Pugh, who are longtime members of Cumming First UMC. The Pughs offered their farm as a place of respite for the weary and stressed pastors.
Rev. Leslie Watkins (Associate Pastor at Peachtree Road UMC) and Rev. John Cromartie (retired) welcomed their peers to the Pugh’s farm and guided the participant’s day together.
The day began with introductions to each other and to the land on which the group will work and enjoy together regularly for the next four months. After learning about soil, which was the keyword of the day, the participants went to work on various tasks in the garden. Some planted seeds, while others weeded and mended the soil. The time in the garden was followed by a simple worship service in which participants celebrated communion together.
At lunchtime, the group fellowshipped around the table savoring a farm-to-table meal of freshly baked tomato pies and bean salad. Following lunch, the pastors found a solitary spot on the farm for quiet reflection. Some took walks, while others napped. Some listened to the creek babble, while others watched the clouds go by. At the end of their two hours of quiet time, the group gathered back for closing reflections of the day. At the end of their Sabbath Life day, the clergy were given a basket of fresh produce from the farm to enjoy at home.
After arriving home, one of the clergy participants emailed the group leaders saying, “I left feeling so refreshed that even the traffic in Atlanta didn't phase me and that's amazing!”
Sabbath Life is a new short-term ACE offering for clergy in the North Georgia Conference. The interest in this first cohort far exceeded what we anticipated. Plans are underway to offer more Sabbath Life opportunities for our clergy in the future.