Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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From the Rector's Desk

6/1/2017

From the Rector’s Desk     

One year from now I will embark on a three-month sabbatical.  A sabbatical is an opportunity for a clergy person to fully let go of the responsibilities and concerns of his or her vocation for a brief time. It is intended as a release from the routine of the call. A sabbatical is also intended to boost the physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual wellbeing of the minister.  A clergy sabbatical is not an extended vacation or a period for academic pursuits.  In the Diocese of Virginia, the standard Work Agreement for a rector includes a three-month sabbatical, which can be taken any time after the rector's sixth anniversary at the parish.  Though I celebrated this milestone with you last month, I have decided after thoughtful conversations with Marie and our Vestry, to wait and take it next year during the summer months of June, July, and August.  

Why am I telling you about this now?  In Clergy Renewal: The Alban Guide to Sabbatical Planning by Bullock and Bruesehoff (Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, 2000) the authors recommend that for a healthy, brief disengagement to occur, it is best for the clergy person to announce the sabbatical one year in advance, and then begin working the subject into conversations as needed for the next six months.  During this time, in articles, personal conversations, or group parish conversations, the leadership of the parish--the rector, Wardens, and Staff--can listen to and address any concerns about how the parish will function during the priest's absence.  I am confident that by following these guidelines we will, by early 2018, have a plan on how the parish will continue to function smoothly during my absence.  Furthermore, it is my hope that at least three months before I leave, I will be able to introduce you to the clergy who will have Sunday responsibilities and/or be on call for pastoral emergencies.
 
What I cannot describe to you now is what I am going to do on my sabbatical.  I am drawn to engaging in autobiographical and creative writing. I have also applied for a grant, which if awarded, will allow me to embark on some exciting opportunities. The grant recipient will not be announced until late summer or early fall, so I cannot discuss these plans yet.
This sabbatical time is also an opportunity for the congregation to experience its strength and the tenacity of its members. You may have noticed that I continue to encourage people to go to the proper Vestry Liaison when the question or concern is part of that Liaison's oversight. This is not only the practice of a healthy parish, but also one that will keep us functioning well during my absence during the summer months of 2018. My prayers are with us as we look forward to this exciting though short phase for our parish life!
 

Yours in Christ,

 Fr. Peter 


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