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The Outlook staff will be off August 7-11 for sabbath

Outlook editor Teri McDowell Ott introduces the Outlook's first-ever sabbath shut down.

From August 7-11, Presbyterian Outlook will shut down to observe a week of sabbath. Don’t worry — we’re planning ahead so we can still provide you with worship resources on our website during this time. However, we will not be sending emails. All posts to our website and social media channels will be scheduled and much of the content shared will be about sabbath-keeping.

Recently, Presbyterian Outlook has made a lot of changes — a new website, a redesigned magazine, more diverse contributors, a grant-funded summer intern program, new “Fresh Outlook” and confirmation curriculum. These changes are strategic steps we’ve taken to enhance and expand the Outlook’s ministry and offerings.

This week of sabbath is another change. Actually, it’s an experiment. But a necessary one. The Outlook staff is small, and our work is intricately connected. If one person takes time off, others must step up to cover. We have an amazing team who happily support each other in taking vacation time. But the Outlook’s board and I have been discussing ways to make our staffing structure more sustainable, ensuring our employees get the time away from work that each needs and deserve.

While I was serving as an associate pastor in Hartsville, South Carolina, I befriended a group of musicians who led worship at a local Pentecostal church. This church shut down every summer for two months of sabbath. Stunned by such a countercultural move, I caught myself thinking, They just stop? How can they just stop? My questions reflected the trap of our productivity-driven culture: the false belief that if we stop to rest, everything else stops as well. This idolatrous thought pattern assumes that we are the center of the universe, not our Creator.

In her book Rest is Resistance, Tricia Hersey describes sabbath rest as a personal, spiritual, and political practice of resistance. “I stop,” she writes, “to declare that there is enough, and I have done enough.” Exhaustion and burnout – particularly for marginalized people – is our cultural norm. As the Outlook takes this necessary step to sustain our staff, we pray that you can find ways to rest and practice sabbath as well.