Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

All licensed ministers in the diocese are entitled to period of extended study leave of 3 months every 10 years in ministry.


The purpose of Extended Study Leave (ESL) is to offer licensed office holders a sustained period away from normal duties for professional development and personal enrichment.


ESL is offered every ten years and is to be of benefit to the individual and to the Diocese. ESL is aimed at those in active and healthy ministries and is not the right option for those who are recuperating from illness or recovering from a crisis. ESL will normally be for a period of three months. Prior service in a similar ministry in another diocese will normally be recognised. ESL will not usually be granted during the first two years of a new appointment or when approaching retirement. It may, on occasion, be possible to grant a shorter period of study leave in order to work on a particular project. Such study leave needs to be discussed first with the Area Bishop and is not eligible for an ESL grant.


This may begin with an invitation from your Bishop, or Archdeacon, following an MDR, or after a review with your Head of Department. Alternatively, an individual may approach his or her Area Bishop, or where appropriate, the Diocesan Bishop.

After the initial request, the Area CMD Adviser (or other designated person) will discuss the ESL with the applicant. A proposal should then be drawn up by the person seeking to take the ESL, setting out the details of their plans together with a detailed budget. It is advisable to allow a period of at least 18 months preparation and consultation before the proposed ESL. This will allow time to ensure adequate pastoral cover and also the identification of a supervisor if appropriate.

The Bishop will give final approval to the ESL Proposal following advice from the appropriate CMD staff. This will then release any approved grants. Before giving his approval, the Bishop will check that consultation has taken place in the Parish or workplace and Deanery and that proper ministerial cover can be provided within the Deanery and/or Episcopal Area. Clergy are expected to ensure that their PCCs are aware of the nature, purpose and results of ESL.


Those taking ESL will also be asked to consult with their Rural/Area Dean, to ensure that the deanery is aware of the ESL. It is the responsibility of the person asking for the ESL to ensure that proper cover is in place for pastoral duties and services during the time of ESL. The individual’s grant may not be used for providing ministerial cover. The parish is expected to cover the expenses and any fees of visiting ministers.


Licensed, stipendiary clergy (this is deemed to include full-time house-for-duty clergy) will be entitled to apply for a grant up to the equivalent of five years CMD grant. The proposed expenditure must relate to the purpose of the ESL and there is no guarantee that a full grant will be available. Other licensed ministers may use their CMD grant towards ESL costs. Minister’s CMD grants may not normally be used to top up the ESL grant. All grants are subject to the prior written agreement of the appropriate CMD Adviser and Bishop and to budget availability, which is held centrally. There are additional sources of sabbatical and study leave funding, such as the schemes offered by EIG and some of the Mission Agencies. Parishes may also be willing to offer financial support. Ministers may incur a tax liability if the grant is not used exclusively for work-related activities. If you uncertain, professional advice should be sought.

Getting the most from your Extended Study Leave

The plans for the ESL should include three elements: professional development, retreat and rest. Every ESL will be unique and must be shaped to the particular needs and circumstances of the minister but it is expected that these elements will be addressed in preparing the proposal.

Professional Development

This is the element of professional and ministerial development which will normally take the greatest part of your three months. It is the key element in the ESL. It will involve some element of learning probably through study and theological reflection. It should be designed to widen horizons or deepen thinking in a particular area, rather than simply revisiting familiar territory. Most people have some idea of what they want to do with this time, but it is good to ensure that it is something which benefits a variety of needs including your own ministry now and in the future and the wider work of the church.


The ESL should include some time which is by nature of retreat. For many this will mean going on an organised retreat. The principle is that some time of your ESL should be set aside for you and your own relationship with God. This means retreating from church, work, family and responsibility to refresh your own personal spiritual life in a way which is best for you. It is wise to discuss this element with your spiritual director.


ESL is not designed to be a holiday. Nonetheless the biblical pattern of Sabbath does include rest as a vital part of life. It is, therefore, appropriate and necessary that the three month includes some time of physical rest and refreshment. It is particularly wise to include a few days at the beginning of your time to adjust to a change of pace and prepare yourself to get the best from your ESL. If the minister wishes to add up to two weeks annual leave to the ESL period, this must be specifically approved in consultation with the Bishop, parish and deanery.

ESL Proposal document

Before final approval is given a Proposal document must be submitted to the Area CMD Adviser. This need be no more than one side of A4. It should include the following elements:
Details of the purpose, plans and timetable;

  • What you expect to get from the time in terms of the three elements of professional development, retreat and rest;
  • A detailed budget for the ESL, how you will fund the proposal, the level of ESL grant you are requesting and other grant applications you are making (see application form for template);
  • Details of cover for your current work;
  • Confirmation that the parish and deanery (or workplace) has been consulted/informed;
  • How you plan to report on the ESL afterwards.


You will be expected to report to your Area Bishop (or Head of Department) and Area CMD Adviser on your ESL within a month of completion. This report should demonstrate what has been gained through the different elements and your own theological reflections and personal learning arising from the time. In addition to this brief report, some people will need to prepare a longer more detailed report of their work for the benefit of others. Consideration needs to be given to ways in which what has been learned from your time away from normal duties may be of benefit to the wider church in the Deanery or the Diocese. These reports may make use of different media if appropriate to the ESL and should be prepared in the last stages of the ESL and before return to normal duties.

For more information please contact Revd Jill Mowbray
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