Rector Announces Summer Sabbatical
A Sabbatical Plan
"Sabbath" literally means "to cease, to rest, to stop doing what one is doing" for a time. The command to step away from regular, rigorous routine is one of the most ancient in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is right there in the Ten Commandments: "Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy." Sabbath is full of rich meanings in scripture. It means rest from work, celebration of creation, celebration of redemption, and a sacrament to renew your relationship with God.
Many years ago the Vestry of Saint Michael and All Angels established a sabbatical provision for the rector which now reads that after five full years of ministry a three-month sabbatical may be taken -- for the purpose of stepping away from the daily demands of parish life; to pursue study, rest and renewal. I am now in my sixth year (times flies!) and my plan is to take three months away in a manner that is the least disruptive to the clergy, staff and parish. I will be gone most of the month of April, I will be back full-time in May, and then away most of the summer, being back full-time on August 15.
When and Where will the Rector be Away?
I plan to use the three months away in two increments: the first is a four-week period overseas: April 1-11 at a monastery in Iona, Scotland; April 12-28 leading the parish pilgrimage to Greece and Turkey. The second increment will be within the United States: June 3-30, studying, writing and visiting family in North Florida; July 1-15, studying, writing and preaching in North Carolina; July 16-23, hiking, studying, writing and attending a family reunion (Valerie's family) in New England and Canada; July 24-August 14, preaching and pastor-in-residence at Church of the Atonement (our 11th summer) in Quogue (the eastern end of Long Island), New York. The study and writing periods are for the purpose of editing and summarizing the themes I taught this year ("Life's Most Important Questions") into a study booklet for parishes and dioceses -- we hope it will be available to study groups in print and digitally. Note above: I will be present and full-time in the parish during the important month of May.
Who Will Care for the Parish While the Rector is Away?
The parish clergy -- Lisa Flores, Kevin Huddleston, Greg Pickens and Brenda Sol will absorb the liturgical and pastoral responsibilities, including officiating at funerals. They will be assisted by our very able Sunday associates and deacons, Michael Harmuth, Pamela Theodore, Mike Dangelo, Jim Webb, and Ariail Gores. The operations staff and the parish wardens will look after administrative and fiscal matters, including the monitoring of the Columbarium project.
Will the Sabbatical Cost the Parish Extra Income?
No. In preparation of some portions of the sabbatical expenses, I used funds allocated for the rector's professional expenses and continuing education from the 2012 budget to pre-pay some costs. Thus, the regular allocations for 2013 will adequately cover the balance of expenses.
I extend enormous thanks to you, the wardens/vestry, my clergy colleagues, and our wonderful staff. Being the rector of Saint Michael and All Angels has its own set of demands. Of course, my position and vocation do not confer special status except that there are few days that are really "off," and parish ministry makes only slightly more obvious the truth that you cannot give away more than you have. All work is very hard some of the time, whether you are punching keys, planting crops, cooking food, or performing brain surgery. Any job done well and to the glory of God requires everything that is within us.
My sabbatical is dominated by the satisfaction of serving as your rector, of sharing ministry with a talented clergy team, and entrusting work to a faithful staff.
This comes with my prayers for our ministry together and with deep gratitude.