What’s Church Gonna Be Like While Markus is on Sabbatical?

I’ll be going on sabbatical starting April 20 and I’ll be back on July 20.  I know…  That sounds like a long time!  Especially for a church with only one pastor.  Which raises the question, who’s gonna do all the stuff that Markus does during those three months?

That’s a great question.  Let me give you some answers in regard to six key areas:  preaching, music, Communion, homebound Communion, pastoral care, and leadership of the church.


We’ve got a great line-up of preachers scheduled for the three months of my sabbatical.  We’ll have four different speakers each doing a three (or four) week sermon series.

  • April 26, May 3, and 10 – Clark Cowden

Clark Cowden will be preaching a series entitled, The Kingdom of God: Our New Reality.  Clark is the Executive Presbyter (the guy in charge!) of the Presbytery of San Diego.  Clark is a great guy and always delivers a great message when he speaks!

  • May 17, 24, and 31 – Nate Landis

Most of you are familiar with Nate.  He’s the founder and director of Urban Youth Collaborative, which connects churches with schools so that kids can be exposed to the God who loves them.  Nate will be preaching a series titled, Practicing Passion and Persistence in Prayer (that’s a lot of P’s!).

  • June 7, 14, 21, and 28 – Laura Agee

Hurray for Laura!  Don’t you dare miss Laura’s series based on the book of Ezekiel (yeah, Laura likes a challenge!).  Laura is already hard at work on her sermons and will bring you a series of messages that will leave you both encouraged and uplifted.

  • July 5, 12, and 19 – Scott Schimmel

Scott Schimmel has preached at Northminster a number of times over the years.  He is the founder of YouSchool, an organization whose mission is to help high school and college students “develop the self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-direction they need.”  Finding Your Story in God’s Story is the title of Scott’s sermon series.


You might be wondering when we’ll be hiring a new Worship Leader for Sunday mornings.  We will hire someone soon enough, but we didn’t want to rush into it.  Elisabeth Leatherberry (our former Worship Director) had been with us for so long, we felt we needed to take some time to just have guest musicians for a while.

We will continue to have guest musicians while I’m on sabbatical.  But I’m working to schedule each guest worship leader for a few weeks at a time in order create a sense of consistency.

Our goal is to hire someone by around the end of the summer.  I know that sounds like a long way off, but this will give us the time we need to find exactly the right person for Northminster.  The last thing any of us wants to do is rush into a hiring decision.  In the meantime, I invite you to pray that God would lead the right person to our church and that God would begin to prepare that person for his or her ministry here at Northminster.


Laura Agee, together with elders and deacons commissioned by the Session, will preside over Communion in our worship services during my sabbatical.  Communion will continue to be served on the first Sunday of each month.

Homebound Communion

One of the things I do each month is take Communion to two or three people who are stuck at home or in the hospital due to health issues.  Elders and deacons will be commissioned by the Session to take Communion to the homebound each month.

Pastoral Care

What if someone becomes ill or has an injury and ends up in the hospital during the sabbatical?  Pastoral care will continue.  We have set up a very thorough schedule of nearby pastors, elders, and deacons who will be on call for pastoral care during my sabbatical.  No matter what happens, someone will be available to visit and pray with those who need it.

And if someone should pass away, we have several pastors of nearby Presbyterian churches who will be available to help out with memorial services.


The Session will continue to meet while I’m on sabbatical.  The elders on Session are the leaders of the church, and they will continue to lead the church while I am away.  Rev. John Moser of Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church will moderate the Session meetings.

Normally, the Session takes the month of August off from meeting.  However, this year they will be taking July off.  They will resume in August since I’ll be back by that time.  This way I’ll only miss two Session meetings and pick right up again when I return.

The Head of the Church

I realize it can be kind of nerve-wracking to think about those three months without your pastor.  But I want to remind you that I am not the head of this church.  You know who the head of the church is?  It’s Jesus!

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.  (Colossians 1:17-18)

Northminster is Christ’s body, and Christ is the head of Northminster.  Jesus will take care of Northminster while I’m away.  That’s not to say that we haven’t worked hard at making plans to ensure Northminster’s continuing ministry.  But, ultimately, it comes down to the reality that Jesus is taking care of his church.

Pastor Markus Watson

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