Extended Study Leave

Extended Study Leave (ESL)

(formerly known as Sabbatical Leave)

The Diocese encourages all stipendiary clergy to take ESL periodically. A grant is available for this. Because ESL concerns professional and vocational development the grant is free of Income Tax. In addition, you may be able to claim part or all of your CMD allowance for the current and following year to supplement your own resources and grants from other funding bodies.

Your Bishop’s permission is required before ESL can be granted, but permission does not automatically constitute entitlement and we have a Diocesan policy to regulate the allocation of ESL in any one year.

What qualifies as Extended Study Leave?

The good news is that this is a broad definition! Do not, for example, be put off by the label of ‘study leave’; it does not imply that you have to be pursuing some higher degree or other academic course – although those who are, may find that their ESL is very helpful when it comes to field work or time to write dissertations etc.

The notion of extended leave is founded on good Biblical principles. The cessation of work in Genesis 2 v.3, is a positive gift or rest (“God blessed the day and made it holy”) and in Leviticus 25 we have “Sabbath years” and the sound idea that the ground should be left untilled so that it can replenish itself.

David Ellingson draws the parallel with our lives:

‘Just like the soil, we humans need a sabbatical, a time to lie in fallow. We require a time to receive, rather than give Output, carefully to nurture and cultivate our lives so that the soil of our spirits may be rid of weeds and have opportunity to receive nourishment’1

There is then a place for extended rest and a change of rhythm. The many and ever changing demands placed on those of us in ministry make this hugely important for clergy who readily admit to a lack of sufficient time for personal and spiritual nurture. Our regular rest days and holidays are vital, but the longer break for personal renewal has been of great long-term benefit.

ESL is a time for professional and vocational development

  • Spiritual refreshment
  • A new environment
  • A time to explore a different rhythm of life, less outcome focussed.
  • Restoration
  • A time for God to restore balance, spiritual vitality and vision
  • Stimulus
  • New input to give new vision
  • Visiting new cultures and places to give new perspectives.
  • Reflection
  • Deeper understanding
  • New ways of doing things
  • Future objectives – personal and professional

The result of such a time will be to re-focus attention away from the narrow task-orientation in which parish ministry can trap us, to a fresh personal awareness of our identity and our vocation.

Lichfield Diocesan Guidelines

A period of ESL is normally 12 weeks – although on occasion applications for shorter periods will be considered.

All stipendiary clergy and licensed lay ministers who have served ten years in ministry, can be considered for ESL

Funding from the diocese is available for study leave approved by the area bishop. Currently funds aremade available through the Officer responsible for Continuing Ministerial Development.

There are two deadlines each year for allocation of ESL. Applications should be made by July 31 for ESL 18 – 30 months ahead, and by January 31 for ESL 12 -24 months ahead.  For example any applications made by 31 July 2020 would be for 2022 onwards. Application forms which now include provision for Bishop’s and Archdeacon’s permission are available:

Application Form A to register your firm interest in study leave and apply.

Form B to be completed once you have been listed and to confirm the arrangements.  Payment of grants will ony be made once your completed Form B has been received.

We would welcome applications for ESL in this order...

  • People who have been in current post for 7 years or more and have not taken ESL in that time.
  • People who have been in current post for 6 years or more, and have not taken ESL in the last 7 years.
  • People who have been in current post for 5 years or more, and have not taken ESL in the last 7 years.
  • People who have been in ordained or nationally accredited ministry for 10 years or more, and have not take ESL in that time.

(In the event of oversubscription, then those who have had the longest interval since their last ESL, whilst in stipendiary ministry, will be the first to be awarded funding and leave.)

The DVE office has details of some colleges and institutions that offer ESL accommodation and study opportunities. Contact the CMD Enabler or office for more details (01543 306227)

You will be expected to share something of your ESL with the Area Bishop, Archdeacon and CMD Enabler. This may be in the form of a brief report, or some other creative outcome. This is not meant to be a major piece of work, but rather to offer personal reflections on the learning experience and the opportunity for self-development.

       1.  Dave Ellingson ‘Remember the Sabbatical to keep it Holy’ cited in Sabbatical Planning for Clergy and Congregations by A Richard Bullock p.5 (Alban Institute, 1987).

For an informal conversation about your proposed ESL, contact:

Jane Instone or Jeanette Hartwell, CMD enabler.

As your plans begin to form, do share them with your Area Bishop and Archdeacon at the earliest opportunity. They will have the wider diocesan picture in mind as well as your own needs.


Page last updated: 11th October 2021 11:29 AM