SONY DSCI’m in the midst of writing a grant application for some sabbatical and other continuing education funding. It’s so hard to write what I think I should say–and so much more fun to write this version of what I want to say. (Also, if you are a reviewer for the actual grant application process I am applying to, please note that this is a humor column and I really will take my sabbatical seriously and use the money well and . . . discernment . . . growth . . . accountability . . . yeah, all that stuff. Thank you for your consideration.)

Please describe the applicant’s role and responsibilities at the supporting institution.

Well, “the applicant” is me, and in my role as THE PASTOR, one of my responsibilities is to write my own grant application. I mean, I don’t have to write the application, I could just have $0 for sabbatical and spend three months streaming educational videos from the library, retreating in my friend’s “she shed,” and worshiping at churches around town—at least the ones I’m pretty sure wouldn’t make me burn with righteous indignation and mutter unchurchy words under my breath. But, if I want to travel beyond my home county and attend workshops, classes, and retreats that someone else puts together, then I really need some money from you and, thus, writing this application is one of my responsibilities.

Another responsibility is property oversight, such as reporting the current power outage to the utility company and sitting here typing in the dark hoping the electricity comes back on before my computer’s battery power runs out. (But in case it doesn’t, you’ll know why this application is abruptly brief.)

Let’s see . . . I also plan worship every week. I try to pick songs most people won’t hate and I re-write various liturgical pieces because nothing I find is ever quite right and I try to write and preach sermons that will make people a little uncomfortable but not send them stomping out the door before the benediction. Which I also give.

It is my responsibility to like Facebook posts and reply to texts and answer my phone and speak kindly and earnestly to people and never visibly roll my eyes. And I sometimes don’t fulfill that last responsibility completely but, God help me, have you noticed how many eye roll-worthy things people say?

I also have to keep records and make copies and once in a while make coffee, but I’m really bad at it so they’ve shifted that responsibility to other people for the most part. Also praying is one of my responsibilities. Which is weird that I get paid to pray. But true. And lots of other things, I’m sure. But I think I hit the highlights.

Why is the applicant seeking a sabbatical grant at this time? What does the applicant hope to gain from time away from their regular responsibilities?

Honestly, I need a nap. And I think I could manage to take one—maybe even five or six—if I had three months of sabbatical.

Also, I hope to gain discernment and spiritual growth and clarity of vision and renewed energy. But mostly the naps.

Please list sabbatical activities planned and estimated costs associated with each activity.

  • Naps: free—though a new mattress would be nice, or maybe a napping couch, so probably about $1000.
  • Some kind of conference in a tropical location during the winter. I don’t really care what it’s about, because I’ll skip most of the sessions to hang out on the beach. I’d guess around $3000.
  • Another conference in Seattle because I’ve never been there and I want to visit my friend. And I’m sure they have just the right spiritual growth/professional development/church leadership conference to make me a better pastor in a week. Also one in Orlando so I can visit family. I’ll need flights for my husband and daughter to that one as well.
  • Would you pay for a personal assistant? Like, someone to make all these travel plans and pack my suitcases and make dinner at my house? I don’t really know what the parameters are here, but that would be awesome.
  • And the church will need an interim pastor while I’m gone. But don’t give them too much money for that because I want them to hire someone they like well enough but who is definitely not as good of a preacher as I am and not quite as likable or competent as me. They should be happy with the interim and even happier to have me back.

So, honestly, I have no idea how much this will all cost. But a lot. Because I plan to eat at good restaurants and stay in nice hotels for once in my life. If you could just give me the max amount of money, I promise I will use it well.

Thank you for your consideration.


Rev. Joanna Harader serves as pastor and grant-writer at Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, KS. Her sadly neglected blog is at (Maybe she can update it during her sabbatical!)

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One thought on “Wits’ Ends Day: An Honest Sabbatical Grant Application

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