Pews in sunlight

News & Announcements

Suspension bridge spanning channel

Sabbatical Plans: (Re)Building Bridges

May 29, 2024

Ken Kovacs writes in the Pentecost edition of The Messenger about his upcoming sabbatical plans.

Sabbatical Plans: (Re)Building Bridges

Dorothy Boulton and I are grateful that we serve a congregation that recognizes the value of pastoral sabbaticals. We each have had two sabbaticals, and I’m looking forward to my third. The Presbytery’s policy now recommends a three-month sabbatical every five years. My last one was in 2016, so I’m a little overdue. The thought of taking a sabbatical during a pandemic didn’t feel all that restful. But now, thank God, we are in a different place.

My three-month sabbatical will begin on Monday, June 3, and I plan to be back in the office on Wednesday, September 4, and back in worship on September 4, as we kick-off a new program year.

The Lilly Congregational Sabbatical Grant (of which both Dorothy and I were recipients) application asks pastors: What will make your heart sing? This is a good question to frame what a sabbatical experience should be about. The theme of my previous sabbatical was pilgrimage. In many respects, that experience and the insights I gained from that generative season in my life continue to bear fruit, personally and professionally. One significant awareness that emerged while walking the Camino was that I wanted to deepen my interest in the relationship between Reformed theology and analytical (Jungian) psychology. In 2016, my sabbatical journey in Europe finished in Zurich. In 2017, I was back in Zurich exploring the possibility of studying at the C.G. Jung Institute in Küsnacht. I was accepted into the program soon after that, and have been plugging along on a very part-time basis ever since. Fast forward to 2024, I have now completed all my exams and my psychoanalytic training is almost finished, with only a thesis left to write.

C.G. Jung portrait
C.G. Jung (1875-1961)

What would make my heart sing? Undivided time spent doing research and writing the thesis. My topic is C.G. Jung’s relationship with Protestant pastors and theologians. Jung made many attempts to bridge analytical psychology and theology throughout his life, with limited lasting success. Using the image or symbol of the bridge as an organizing focus, the thesis will explore the need for a new bridge between Protestant theology and the field of analytical psychology. Analytical psychology has much to gain from a renewed engagement with theological disciplines, and analytical psychology has much to offer pastors and theologians in our time, as well as the church. The bridge image is also important for me as I strive to bridge, within me, what it means to be a Reformed pastor-theologian and an analyst. In this respect, I view the thesis as part of my ongoing individuation process.

Having the opportunity to immerse myself in the material (most of which I’ve been gathering for several years now) and just writing would really feed my soul. The thesis must be 60 pages—so not that long. The chairperson of my thesis committee (a Jungian analyst and a Reformed pastor in Basel) reminded me that the thesis required by the Institute is not a doctoral thesis; it’s not designed to be an academic piece. “So make it interesting,” she said. I hope to find a place to write for a few weeks, either in the U.S. or Europe.

In addition to writing, I plan to do other things that feed my soul, such as hiking and traveling. I’ve been invited to take part in a seminar at the Jung Institute at the end of June that showcases some of the research projects of students. After that, Mark will join me in Zurich, and then we’ll visit some places that we both love (such as Scotland) and find a new place for us to explore together, possibly Copenhagen. I would like to make a pilgrimage to the grave of Sören Kierkegaard and visit the Kierkegaard Museum and Library. We plan to be in Europe for about a month. I will also be intentional about making time truly to stop and rest my body and mind so that I can return to CPC feeling rested and restored.

Then, in the fall, we will plan a potluck supper and offer a program to share some of my sabbatical experiences.

For these three months, Dorothy Boulton will become acting Head of Staff and have increased weekly hours. Dorothy will preach three Sundays (one Sunday per month). For the other Sundays, we will have guest preachers. The Reverends Ted and Moffett Churn will preach approximately four times throughout the summer, as well as help with worship on the other Sundays. Ted and Moffett have also offered to help with pastoral care during this time – thank you! Deacon Rick Santos will preach one Sunday. There will be opportunities for Ruling Elders Stephanie Stevens, Kevin Flis, and Jeff Bolognese to preach as well. Rev. Michael Cuppett will lead worship on two Sundays, too.

All in all, I know that the congregation will be very good hands. And I trust and hope that these summer months will be a time of rest and renewal, that you will (re)connect with the things that make your hearts sing.