The Judicial Council of The Methodist Church in Singapore has made a declaratory decision on a petition submitted to it by Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), seeking clarification on whether pastors may be granted sabbatical leave more than once within any seven-year period so long as the total leave granted does not exceed one year in that period.
The petition arose from the proceedings of the 39th session of TRAC, held on 17-20 Nov 2014. The petition referred to ¶550 of The Book of Discipline of The Methodist Church in Singapore, our denomination’s rule-book, which lists the circumstances under and process by which a pastor may be granted sabbatical leave.
The Judicial Council noted the reasoning that granting a full one-year sabbatical may be disruptive to the work of the local church or Annual Conference, and that it may be in the interest of both the Annual Conference and the pastor for his sabbatical leave to be divided into several parts within any seven-year period as long as the total leave granted does not exceed one year in total during that period.
However, the Council was of the unanimous view that the following sentence in ¶550 is clear regarding frequency of sabbatical leave: “Sabbatical leave shall not be granted to the same person more frequently than one year in seven.” The Book of Discipline, therefore, makes no allowance for sabbatical leave to be taken in part adding to a total of one year in every seven-year period.
This declaratory decision rendered on 30 Sept 2015 is final.