By the time you read this, I will be less than two weeks away from my sabbatical. So, I thought I’d fill you in on what my sabbatical will be about, how it will impact you, and what I hope all of us can gain from this time.
For those of you for whom this is new news, last summer ECC applied a second time for a grant from the Eli Lilly Program for Clergy Renewal. The purpose of the grant program is to provide congregations and pastors the opportunity for renewal and reflection. The renewal programs are “not vacations but time for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking again from God’s life-giving waters, for regaining enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.”
While away (May 1- August 1, 2021), Kim and I will reflect and explore along the theme (from Ignatian spirituality) of finding God in all things—internally and externally. A theme that has resonated with me personally over the last five or six years. We will explore creation—the night skies while we are in Utah, on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon and the seas while in Cape Code (we plan to go on a whale watching tour). In addition, we will have our children with us for one week and some friends who have been important to our journey out to visit us in Utah, as well. All along the way, we will be engaging in a rather intense reading and study program and daily work in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
If you do not know what those spiritual exercises are, they are daily reflections and prayer in the gospels. Most often, Ignatian retreats were 30 days long and intended for monks, nuns, and priests, but more recent incarnations allow for engaging the exercises as a lay person in an extended fashion. The program Kim and I will be using actually lasts 36 weeks, and we will continue with it even after the sabbatical. If you want to learn more about the exercises, follow this link.
Kim and I also have a pretty intentional plan of learning, growing, and seeking God together during this time. My prayer is that when we come back, we will be re-energized and enthusiastically ready to embrace what God has for us and for ECC in the future. Your prayers—and your participation while we are away—are greatly appreciated.
While we are away, you will hear other voices from the pulpit. Several ECC staff will share and they’ll be joined by voices from throughout the Covenant Church who will speak as well. I’m excited that you get to hear from such a diverse group of people.
Then, on June 26, ECC will host a one-day retreat for everyone. During this event, we will be joined by Diana Shiflett (author of Spiritual Practices in Community), who will join with Kate Cogswell in helping lead us in spiritual practices around themes of my sabbatical. I’m very excited about what they have planned for you!
Finally, this article only serves as an introduction of the official proposal. If you are interested in reading it, please email me and let me know. I’ll be happy to send it along.