Clergy Corner

Sid Batts

Over the summer, I have tried to stay focused on the present work of FPC. But with October 14 approaching, I find myself playing the mind games of analyzing the past 18 years and trying to anticipate what retirement really is. 

I have loved hearing from “the ranks of the retired!” You have shared your stories and offered advice (mostly good) on what to expect and pitfalls to avoid. Thanks for not wanting me to “flunk” retirement!

Many have asked about our plans and what I will do in retirement. I have promised Cathy (and myself) that I won’t do anything church-related for a year. After that, I will see how I feel. 

One retirement guru says that before retirement a person is focused on the things one has to do; after retirement a person focuses on what one wants to do. Of course, Cathy and I hope there will be travel, more time with family and grandkids, more time to read, play golf and explore some family genealogy. 

It is hard for me to imagine a life that does not revolve around “getting ready for Sunday.” For me that has meant preparing about 1,600 sermons over 39 years. I sometimes call sermon preparation “tyranny” because it is a relentless weekly discipline that demands my absolute attention. Yet, I love the process of getting ready for something important: i.e. ….. having something relevant and meaningful to say to God’s people. I will miss the privilege of getting ready for something important … perhaps not the tyranny.

Cathy and I have bought a house in Southport and plan to move there sometime this fall. We have always loved the coast, and this feels right for a lot of reasons. Part of this decision involves being the senior pastor here for 18 years and knowing that I need to create space (geographical and emotional) for the good of all.  The Batts have loved Greensboro! However, being the senior pastor does pose retirement complexities that other professions do not have.

Additionally, there are protocols and guidelines from Salem Presbytery that are intended to make sure a retiring pastor leaves well. The intentions behind such guidelines are important for the ongoing health of the church. (I have seen retiring pastors or spouses who could not or would not stay out of their former churches which lead to havoc for the congregation and next pastor.) You will be hearing more about retiring pastor guidelines from the Session.

After I announced my retirement in April, there was much work to be done with Session leaders and staff to organize transition teams and the interim process. I feel confident this transition and interim period is in excellent hands and guided by an excellent process. I am NOT worried about what comes next for you! First Prez is strong and vibrant and in position for an exciting future.

Just a heads up: after October 14, an interim pastor will soon come on board, a congregational meeting will be called to elect a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) to search for a new Senior Pastor, and the church will engage in a “mission study” to evaluate where the church is (strengths and weaknesses) and where FPC hopes to focus in the future.

I am grateful for these 18 years….


Senior Pastor Sid Batts

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

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Just a Thought

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