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Below is a copy of the announcement made during the February 7th service by our Board Chair, Michael Saufferer, and Pastor Keith about his upcoming Sabbatical.  Or you can watch it in video form at the bottom of this page.


Michael Saufferer

Good morning.  This morning we have a few moments to bring you an update on the life of our church from the board of elders.  For a quick background, the board of elders is elected by the church membership to oversee and shepherd the church and to work with and oversee the Lead pastor.   On the board this year are Brendan Pauls, Clint Kilback, Craig Merkl, Janet Kirby, Keith Whitaker, Kevin Fierbach, Marian Petkau, Matt Moorhouse, Michael Saufferer. This morning is a good news announcement in case you are wondering why the board is sharing an update.  For the past 10 months, church has been different, and for the next 6 months, it will look a little more different.  What we are announcing this morning is that Pastor Keith will be on a 4 month sabbatical and with the addition of some holidays, will be away from March 15 to August 15. 

The word sabbatical is very specific.  It means a paid leave, retreat, study leave, and that’s why it is used in this context.  Keith will explain in more detail what his plans are in just a moment, but just to be clear, this is a good news announcement.  Ever since Pastor Keith started his tenure here at MCA in August 2014, almost 7 years ago, the written understanding was that the church would offer Keith a sabbatical at this time in his tenure. 

To you, this announcement is fresh and new this morning, but to Pastor Keith and the Church board, this has been on the books since day one.  Over the past almost 7 years, both the board and Keith have expressed a deep commitment and desire to a long term, stable relationship to the benefit of the church.  Pastors and churches often don’t have long term relationships for a few reasons, and one of those is emotional burnout.  The lead pastorship carries with it responsibilities and tensions and sacrifices like no other work.  For this reason, right from day one, the church has planned a sabbatical time for pastor Keith and his family at this time in his tenure. 

Sabbaticals are structured and deliberate, and at this time Pastor Keith will share what his sabbatical plans are and how the church is prepared to function during his absence.

Keith Whitaker

Thanks Michael.  And thanks to you, the church.  I am so grateful to the board and to you for this opportunity.  I want to give you a snapshot of what this sabbatical means for me, and what I will be doing.  The board and I have set 5 priorities during this time.

  1. Rest – a central focus of any sabbatical.  To recharge the batteries after carrying a spiritual and operational load in the church.  I am looking forward to a time of rest, because I have dreams and vision for our church for the next 10, 15 years and I’m recharging the batteries to take hold of those things when I return.  (I’m excited for the sabbatical, but I am equally excited for my return from it!)
  2. Spiritual Renewal – I will be spending intentional time focused on my own life with Jesus, without the pressures of leading the church.  This will include time with my spiritual director, retreat time, and the ability to ‘attend’ church as a participant rather than a leader.
  3. Family Renewal – Throughout my Sabbatical I am planning elements to invest in my family.  This will include more weekend time with my kids and attending a family camp, to invest in our spiritual lives together.   
  4. Writing – This sabbatical will allow me time to develop my skills in the area of writing.  I am registered in a May writers retreat and I plan to write on a regular basis during my time off.  I want to develop that side of my communication skills.
  5. Learning – It has been a few years since I have taken a University level class. I plan to take a course for my own enrichment.   

Michael Saufferer

Pastor Keith has already been working with the staff team in preparation for his sabbatical.  As we move toward March, responsibilities of the church will begin to shift to others on the staff team, and if you have been near the church ministries, you will soon know that we are a church blessed with a hard working and gifted staff team.  Pastor Marcus Schmaling will be Interim Lead Pastor and will step into that role during Pastor Keith’s absence.  A number of speakers are also being scheduled to preach Sunday mornings.  Many of these names you will be familiar with and have heard preach at MCA before.                                                                                                                                                  

More details will be made available in the weeks ahead.  Please pray into this transition. A FAQ document is being sent out to the bulletin list this morning.  If you have any questions, we welcome your contact in person or at 



What is a sabbatical and how is it being applied in this situation?
A sabbatical is an intentional and structured break from work, to allow for rest, learning, renewal, writing, research, study and recreation.  The lead pastorship carries with it responsibilities and tensions and sacrifices like no other work, which makes this sabbatical an important component of a long term pastorship. 

Why is this sabbatical happening now?
Ever since Pastor Keith started his tenure here at MCA in August 2014, almost 7 years ago, the written understanding was that the church would offer Keith a sabbatical in the 6th year of his tenure.  The board places great importance in ensuring that the lead pastorship is designed for the long term and has planned for this event since the beginning of Pastor Keith’s employment. 

If I have a question or need during the sabbatical time, can I still call or email Pastor Keith?
Part of the sabbatical plan is to provide a period of rest and renewal.  We want to honour this and ensure that Pastor Keith is able to complete his sabbatical plan and reap the full benefits.  Our staff team will be available to be contacted.  We ask that requests, questions, concerns, counselling, needs be directed to the staff team in place during Pastor Keith’s Sabbatical. 

How will staff be structured during the sabbatical to ensure the ministries continue to function?
Pastor Keith has been working with the staff team for several weeks already to ensure ministries continue to be supported.  Pastor Marcus will be the Interim Lead Pastor and will lead staff during Pastor Keith’s sabbatical.  

Who will preach during Pastor Keith’s absence?
Several speakers have been scheduled to preach on Sunday mornings.  This includes members of the staff team as well as several outside speakers, many who are familiar and have preached at MCA before.