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In the Christian Reformed tradition, we believe in the importance of family not just as a place of safety, love, and growth but also as a place of discipleship and faith formation. We love and support families as part of God’s beautiful plan for transforming us as his covenant people. Caring for the families of those who lead our churches and work within our denomination, therefore, seems paramount.

Part of caring for families is making space for those who have recently given birth to a child, adopted a child, provided foster care, or who need to care for an immediate family member—and this includes allowing time away from our day-to-day work of ministry in order to pay our full attention to these momentous changes in our family life. As the Spirit of God works in, through, and around us in our lives and ministry, we as a denomination support times of change, transition, and growth in our families.

We offer the attached document as suggestions for individuals and churches to consider for family leave.

Prepared by Family Leave Project Committee


Story #5

The pastor and his wife become foster parents.  They get a call to take in a newborn from the hospital.  Within an hour they must be ready with all the necessary items that is required to care for this child.  Does it matter that the child is not officially part of their family?  How should the council respond?  Would it be different if the foster child was 13 years old?

Dear Craig,

I've not heard of a situation like this before so I can't offer any suggestions. I would hope the pastor (and his wife) would have a conversation about their new role as foster parents and what does this mean concerning the pastor's regular work schedule; then come to an agreeable plan based on the church's policy/circumstances. Each situation is different. We offer some suggestions without the uniqueness of each situation. I don't understand what difference it would make if it's a newborn or 13 yr old other than the parents' readiness to accept the child with short notice. It seems like "the child is not officially part of their family" is a concern.

It might be an opportunity to write or improve a policy based on this pastor's experience. Thank you for writing this post, because it is our intent for churches and ministry staff to learn from each other's experiences.  

Does your church currently have a family leave policy in place? We would like to add to this post by including a couple examples from U.S. and Canadian churches. We are also looking for stories about taking a leave to care for a family member. Your church and name will not be included in the post. We've been asked to include more examples for our churches, pastors and staff to consider. We would like to hear from you. Send your response to Thanks for helping us!

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