Archive for Friday, May 23, 1997


May 23, 1997


For some ministers, long vacations are few and far between.

With summer almost here, most of us are making summer vacation plans.

But lengthy vacations are rare for some local ministers, who have trouble finding the time to get away.

"I don't know the meaning of the word," said Paul Gray, pastor of Heartland Community Church, 1031 N.H.

"I don't want to make it sound like it's all work and no play, but I don't get the two to three weeks off that most people get."

Gray said he takes a day off "here and there."

"I do take some time off occasionally, not nearly as much as I should or would like to because the pressures of ministry can be demanding," he said.

Gray said he's in the office each day, meeting with members of the church, doing counseling and holding staff meetings with people in charge of different ministries.

In the afternoon, 50 teen-agers arrive to participate in the Lawrence Teen Vision program, which provides training for all aspects of television, theater and film.

He said he tries to get away by himself at least one morning every week.

"I sometimes like to take a one- or two-day trip with my family," he said. "It's hard to get away more than that."

The Rev. Charles Polifka, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 1229 Vt., had a similar response.

"I take a few days off during the week once in a while," Polifka said.

And he has no plans for a vacation this year.

"I probably should, but I don't," he said. "Last year, I took a couple of days off during the week. In January I took a weekend."

However, Polifka, a Capuchin Franciscan priest, said he has retreats built into his schedule, including one in June.

During those, he often gets together with other priests to go someplace like Yellowstone National Park.

Polifka said it's more common for priests to take two full weeks off.

"It's kind of up to the individual on how they want to structure it," he said.

Many full-time pastors get two to four weeks of vacation time during the year, said the Rev. Charles Gilmore, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.

"This is in part because it's recognized they're on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So vacation becomes important as a time to be renewed and refreshed," said Gilmore, who is president of the Lawrence Ministerial Alliance.

"A number of pastors I'm aware of find that's a time they need to be with family, to do some personal reflection," he said. "And it's a time to reconnect with family members who are out of the area."

Gilmore said some ministers structure their vacation to visit retreat centers or somewhere they will be by themselves.

Some pastors are given the use of a congregation member's vacation home to get away, he said.

"It's common for pastors to actually lead tours to the Holy Land or to places in Europe," he said.

Gilmore plans do just that.

He will lead a tour from Lawrence to Central Europe, particularly to places of religious historical significance to Lutherans.

They will stop at Wittenberg, Leipzig and Erfurt in Germany; Prague in the Czech Republic, and Vienna and Salzburg in Austria.

"Some pastors will take their time away as an opportunity to do some writing, which is often difficult to do during the year," he said. "A number of churches do give pastors continuing education time.

"It's an important break in the otherwise hectic pace of contemporary ministry."

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