It is not unusual for clergy to work 60+ hours a week and due to the demands of ministry fail to have the opportunity to take a regular day off. It is well documented that this can lead to a thing called ‘clergy burnout’ and results in many clergy leaving full time ministry. This is why the Diocese encourages clergy to take a sabbatical every 7 years. I have now been in ministry for 8 years and the plans for my sabbatical are now all in place. I will be away from Monday 19th June until Monday 18th September. Most of this will be spent in France where I will spend some time at the Abbaye de la Coudre with a community of Cistercian Nuns. Towards the end of my sabbatical I will be spending time with the community of Brothers at Taizé.
As well as being a time for spiritual refreshment, sabbaticals are a great time to refresh and renew theological studies. After eight years in the ministry I am starting to notice that areas of my theological ‘resource bank’ in the depths of my brain are starting to become a bit stale. I have a pile of books to joyfully work through by Thomas Merton, a monastic spiritual writer and Jurgen Moltmann the German reformed theologian. For over 6 months, extensive planning has occurred to prepare for my absence from the Parish. As well as our excellently able Lay Team of Readers, Worship Leaders and Church Wardens, the Parish will be supported by two retired clergy, the Reverend Norman Stevens and the Reverend James Martin. Both come with a wealth of experience. As with other occasions when the Vicar is absent from the Parish, the Church Wardens will ensure the day to day running of the Parish continues and they will be supported by the Area Dean, The Reverend Dr Mark Bratton. Finally, the last thing you can be assured of whilst I am on sabbatical is that you will all be in my prayers, individually being held up to God through the joys and uncertainties of life. Stella