The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Sabbaticals/Professional Development Leave

Guidelines for Professional Development Leave (PDL) 

In recent years, the Episcopal Church in Connecticut has adopted policy statements to help provide clergy and other full-time professional church staff with opportunities for professional training and personal growth outlined below and in this brochure. The two-fold plan adopted by the Convention recommends that church professionals be freed from their regular duties (a) for at least one week each year for continuing education and (b) three months every five years for Professional Development Leave. While such short and longer leaves are encouraged, they are not mandatory.


  • The time norm for PDL's will be three consecutive months (in addition to vacation). Exceptions must be approved by the Bishop.
  • There is to be a documented lead time of at least 12 months prior to the date of departure for preparation and conversation with the Bishop, the Vestry, and the congregation (or other church institution). Click here for the Professional Development Leave Vestry (or other employer) Certificate.
  • The applicant must develop specific goals, determine the means for reaching those goals in academic, spiritual, and personal areas, present them to the Bishop and Vestry, and develop mutual expectations which will be certified in writing as part of the application.
  • A post PDL evaluation report will be prepared and submitted in writing to the Bishop, the Vestry (or other employing body), and to the Diocesan Transition Minister  on behalf of the Commission on Ministry. This report is to reflect the stated goals of the PDL and the effectiveness in achieving
    those goals.
  • Post PDL reports will be filed and indexed at The Commons as reference material for others planning similar PDL's.

Professional Development Leaves normally include three components:

  • Academic
    • advanced degree program
    • extended period of residence in an academic institution
    • independent study, which can be measured, and has an impact on the life of work of the applicant in the context of current ministry
  • Spiritual
    • enabling perspective about one's own spiritual growth and development of others' spiritual growth
  • Personal
    • provision for an opportunity for personal refreshment and, when applicable, for strengthening of family relationships.

These components are designed to address and strengthen competence in any of a wide range of skills and experiences for the purpose of contributing to successful leadership of Church institutions in a changing world and to enhancing the life of a congregation (or institution) in which the applicant serves.

Planning and Funding

Typically, the person taking the Professional Development Leave will continue to receive stipend and other benefits during the time of the Leave, including the normal Continuing Education allowance. It is the responsibility of the congregation to provide for clergy presence as needed, whether that be as little as Sunday supply or full time. Neither the congregation nor individual members of the congregation will be responsible for any additional funding. 


 For questions or concerns relating to sabbaticals or professional development leave, contact Amber Page Gehr, Diocesan Transition Minister at 203-639-3501 ext. 131 or at