Roger Rabey, MDiv ’82, is about to embark on the experience of a lifetime – a three-month sabbatical that will challenge him both physically and spiritually, while also allowing for some much-needed creative rest enjoying hobbies like woodworking and blacksmithing. Starting May 1, Rabey, pastor at Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Highland Presbyterian Church, will begin a leave of absence thanks to a grant provided by the Lilly Endowment.
Rabey’s plans include solo biking expeditions along Spain’s Camino de Santiago and the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy), as well as a family crafting event with his wife and grown children. The sabbatical culminates in a two-week trip with his wife. First, they’ll walk “In the Footsteps of John and Paul,” an experience beginning in Istanbul and traveling through the seven cities of Revelation. Then, they’ll travel through Greece, beginning in Athens and ending in Thessalonica.
For Rabey, this sabbatical will be a time of contemplation and rejuvenation. “I hope to gain a renewed sense of God’s call, as this year is my fourth decade since entering PTS in 1979,” he says. “Plus, it’s a good time to discern how God will guide Highland’s mission and ministry in the next several years as we celebrate my 10th anniversary as senior pastor.”
At the same time, the returns for his parish are tangible. In Rabey’s absence, the grant will support eight visiting preachers, “which is like having a wonderful lecture series every week,” he says. “It’ll be exciting on the home front while I’m gone, which is a positive outcome for the church in that it’s not idling while I’m away.” More importantly, though, is that the church will benefit from a renewed, reenergized, and reinvigorated return of its pastor. “It’s my hope that the time away will provide a new sense of calling,” Rabey says, “and will fulfill Lilly’s question, ‘What will make your heart sing?’”