Clergy Corner

Sid Batts

By Senior Pastor Sid Batts

2018 rolled in, and we look forward to a new calendar year. May it be full of blessings and a faith that will enable us to deal with curveballs and unexpected/unwanted surprises that life always throws at us.

I believe that kind of faith is linked to what we might call our spiritual autobiography. Each of us has such a story. If we were to write it, it could be prompted by answering and reflecting on these questions:

  • As a child and adolescent, how was God expressed and thought of in your family?
  • When and how did God become real and authentic for you?
  • When did church become a “want- to” rather than a “have-to”?
  • Who are the people in your life who have had the greatest spiritual impact?

Our spiritual autobiography is made up of family, home, experiences, relationships, vocation, transition points, and church. Peter writes: “Always be ready to make your defense from anyone that demands of you an accounting of the hope that is in you ... yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”

Peter, in essence, is telling us to be ready to have a conversation about our faith. It seems to me that we have to know our own faith story to be able to have those conversations.

I believe Peter’s instructions are important for two reasons: First, our own faith is made deeper and more authentic when we are reflective on our own story. What do we believe and why? Second, when God opens a door for us to tell our story, we are allowing ourselves to be used by God and for God’s purposes.

How about some homework? Start working on your spiritual autobiography. There is no right formula for doing this but I will suggest this as a way to get started: Think. Pray. Reflect. Write. Share. Repeat.



Dear Friends,

It was a terrific sabbatical! It gave me time to read, think, grill, cook, eat, work on my golf game, travel, worship in other churches, ponder, pray, visit with some old friends, exercise, attend several conferences, and spend time with my family.

I am grateful to this congregation and our Session for seeing the worth of clergy sabbaticals. In essence, sabbaticals are about renewal. Thank you for this privilege.

 And, I am grateful to my colleagues. Our staff did not miss a beat.

I have returned to a renovation that is moving ahead full throttle. Big John was lifted out of the ground with thanks and celebration. And, as I write this, the sanctuary is full of scaffolding from floor to ceiling.

Some highlights from my sabbatical:

5 days of worship and prayer with the monks and students of St Tikon’s Orthodox Monastery and Seminary, part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

2 church/clergy conferences: one on church staff management & development; the other a self and church assessment,  with an eye toward the future

My travels took me to San Francisco, the Monterey Peninsula, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Topsail Beach and Siler City.

I took a couple of golf lessons, played nearly 20 rounds played, including Pebble Beach and Spyglass on the Monterey Peninsula.

I visited with a former secretary from years ago, an early mentor, an old coach, and two good friends from previous days

I spend time and had fun with our immediate family (Meredith, Roland, Rory, Emily and Hector, Mama Lucy) and with extended family.

I enjoyed going to the grocery store in the middle of the day and grilling out for dinner.

I enjoyed a long reading list! (see?)


It is good to be back. Though I enjoyed the experience of worshipping in other churches, I missed “my community” on Sunday mornings.

We have a lot to do (and be) in the name of Christ. Let’s get busy.






P.S. Send me an email, note or voicemail to: “If I could ask God one question…”  What’s yours? I’m starting a sermon series in September with your questions.




Sabbatical Reading List


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhig


Falling Upward: A Spiritually for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr


Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey Into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander


The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor


Spiritual Disciple Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun


A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly


Pop Goes the Culture: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture by Tim Stevens


Power Questions: Build Relationship, Win New Business and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel & Jerold Panas


The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community by Jesse Rice


Follow You Follow Me: Why Social Networking is Essential to Ministry by John Voelz

About Clergy Corner

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Just a Thought

Senior Pastor Sid Batts' morning radio messages, Just a Thought, are available via e-mail subscription, and at our archives. Subscribe here.