Pastor Alan Sherouse begins a Summer Sabbatical on May 17, returning September 6. Inspired by the the biblical theme of “sabbath,” sabbaticals are provided by First Baptist Greensboro to members of our pastoral staff in recognition of years of service and for the purposes of the rest and renewal that enable longterm excellence and health in leadership.

In addition to rest and recreation with his family, Alan will spend time throughout the sabbatical exploring the relationship between Church and City, and in particular how churches are thriving amidst the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly less church-centered urban culture. The centerpiece of this exploration will be the Sherouse Family’s 8-week experience (June 13-August 8) traveling throughout Europe. Alan and Jenny, with the 4 Sherouse children — Jack (12), Della (10), Warner (7) and Bea (5) — will travel to locales such as London, Rome, Florence, and Paris, enjoying one another, experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and giving Alan opportunity to explore churches that are providing models of innovative ministry, financial sustainability and creative facility usage in some of Europe’s most influential cities.

The expenses of the Sherouse Family’s travel are covered by the Lilly Endowment. After Alan’s application in April 2020, First Baptist was one of 140 U.S. congregations selected to receive a grant through Lilly’s annual Clergy Renewal Program, which is intended to provide “an opportunity for pastors to step away briefly from daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal and reflection.” While away, Alan has made plans to be informed in the event of a death (to make personal contact), a pastoral care crisis, or an unanticipated leadership emergency, but will not be active in the regular pastoral care and leadership of the church for this period.

Of course, the active life and ministry of our church continues this summer through the leadership of our Deacons, Lay Leaders and Pastoral Staff. Associate Pastor Courtney Willis will be serving as lead in Pastoral Care and Staff Team Coordination. Courtney and other pastors will take on various committee and leadership responsibilities. Courtney will also preach monthly, as additional Sundays are filled by other members of our pastoral staff, preachers from within our congregation, and some friends and alumni of our congregation such as Rev. Courtney Stamey (Pastor, Northside Baptist in Clinton, MS and former Pastoral Resident at First Baptist), Rev. Lesley-Ann Hix Tommey (Associate Pastor, Plymouth Congregational in Brooklyn, NY, who was ordained by First Baptist), Rev. Eric Porterfield (Pastor, Fifth Avenue Baptist in Huntington, WV, who was ordained by First Baptist), and Dr. Lee Canipe (Pastor, Providence Baptist in Charlotte, who was ordained by First Baptist). 

It is the expectation that this extended period of sabbatical will result in renewed focus and energy for our congregation and our Senior Pastor, as Alan’s return will coincide with initiation of a period of planning for the hopeful future ahead. Alan writes, “Serving as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Greensboro is one of the great gifts of my life. I feel called to a long and imaginative tenure at First Baptist. A sabbatical is a tool toward that end, and I intend to return with fresh energy and perspective for the life and ministry we share moving forward. Beyond professional renewal, however, more than anything I am grateful for how this sabbatical will impact our family. I view a sabbatical primarily as a gift to them and as a tool for Jenny and me to use to tell our children how much the church loves us, values us, and wants us to take care of one another amidst the important work we share. Thank you for modeling this for us all. We love you, we will miss you, and we will be so grateful to reunite with you in the fall!

On Sunday, May 15, we prayed God’s blessings on Alan, his family, and our church with these words:
A Litany of Sabbatical
Written by Rev. Courtney Willis and shared by the Congregation
As you embark on this journey of rest, re-creation and restoration
May you rest in God’s love
As you take delight in concentrated time, conversations, laughter, and adventure with Jenny, Jack, Della, Warner and Bea
May you rest in God’s love
As you seek answers to questions and curiosities that your soul is wondering and pondering
May you rest in God’s love
As you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding you, offering you wisdom, and prompting your heart toward God’s leading
May you rest in God’s love
As you learn new ways to love the world with the grace and love of Jesus Christ
May you rest in God’s love
As you rediscover affirmation of your call to be God’s minister in this particular place with the knowledge that you are beloved by us all
May you rest in God’s love



Additional Information

Read First Baptist’s Sabbatical Leave Policy here.

Read Alan’s original Sabbatical Proposal here. The proposal was approved at our Church Conference on March 8, 2020. 5 days later, First Baptist announced its building closure and shift online, as we began the season of life and ministry amidst pandemic. This delayed sabbatical plans until summer of 2022. 

Learn more about the Lilly Endowment’s Clergy Renewal Program here.

Summer Preachers 

May 29 | Rev. Courtney Willis

June 5 | Faith Story from Rev. Amy Starr Russell 

June 12 | Rev. Buck Cochran

June 19 | Guest: Rev. Seth Hix

June 26 | Rev. Courtney Willis

July 3 | Guest: Rev. Eric Porterfield

July 10 | Guest: Gil McGregor

July 17 | Amelia Britt

July 24 | Rev. Chris Cherry

July 31 | Guest: Rev. Courtney Stamey

August 7 | Guest: Rev. Lesley-Ann Tommey

August 14 | Rev. Amy Starr Russell 

August 21 | Guest: Rev. Lee Canipe

August 28 | Guest: Rev. Sam Harrell

September 4 | Rev. Courtney Willis