By the time you read this, my sabbatical will have begun. I feel blessed to be a part of a vocation that allows for sabbaticals for learning and renewal! The first thing I have planned to do besides a lot of reading is to attend the Chicago Convocation Bending Toward Justice, put on by Bexley Seabury at St. James Commons on Wednesday April 26th. I have a great deal of passion about the state of our world and the amount of Social Justice work that needs to be done to "protect the dignity of every human being." My sabbatical will be in part a time of learning what I can about folks in different walks of life and how the church can respond to the many needs in the world around us.
May 9th - 20th Mike and I will be joining The Right Rev Jeffrey D Lee and The Very Rev Dominic Barrington, along with 50 something other folks from our diocese, on a pilgrimage "Looking for Jesus in the Holy Land today." I am eager to revisit some places I saw before when I was in the Holy Land, along with some new places. There is something unique about being in the land where Jesus walked the earth, and I am excited to see all that God has planned for us there.
In June, I will be attending Thistle Farm's National conference, which is a series of workshops that will be focused on the pillars of Thistle Farms model: Clinical care, social enterprise, survivor-leadership, and organizational development. The Rev. Becca Stevens, who always inspires me, will be one of the keynote speakers, along with other speakers from across the country. I'm looking forward to meeting folks like Becca, who have a passion for helping women find healing in God's love. I am also hoping to get information that will be valuable in the future as the Diocese of Chicago opens our own Magdalene House. While I am in Nashville, I am also arranging for a visit to Thistle Farms and their Tea Shop.
Later in June, I plan to go to Washington D.C. to visit a number of the museums on the Washington Mall including the National Black History Museum, The Holocaust Museum and the Native American Museum. I have a dear friend from seminary in Maryland, who is going to join me for some of the museum visits in D.C. and perhaps worship at the National Cathedral (and/or at my friend's church in Timonium, MD).
I have another visit and retreat planned in Iowa with another friend and colleague from seminary either in late May or June, depending on her schedule. In between trips, I have lots of reading I'd like to do along with worship at other churches and perhaps a few days of retreat as well. I have some gaps in between scheduled things and am staying open to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Please pray that I stay tuned into what God is leading me to learn and experience beyond my basic outline for my sabbatical. When I was in the holding pattern on my way to discernment and seminary, I sensed God telling me that He was calling me to sow seeds and to use the in between time to fill my seed bag. I hope that this time of sabbatical will refill my seed bag that will benefit my ministry in ways I can't yet imagine. At the very least, I will have fresh stories and experiences for my preaching. In the fall the R.E.L.I.C.S. will host a dinner where I can do a presentation on what I gleaned from the experiences of my sabbatical.
During my time away, The Rev. Scott Barron will be covering Sunday services for me and Marge Zwadski and Fay Kitchin will be doing pastoral care and communion visits. If you have a pastoral emergency, contact our parish administrator, Karen Warner, or Sue Campbell, our senior warden. They have contact information for a couple priests who are willing to fill in if needed. While I am away, you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I am so thankful for this opportunity and for your support. I look forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary upon my return July 2nd!