Vicar's Sabbatical

Published On: 

Sun 5 May 2019 — 4:00 pm

James, our vicar, handed out a letter today to everyone in the church family outlining his plans for a sabbatical.

It is reproduced below in full.

If you want to know more about his plans, he's written a couple of blog posts. The first explains his plans for the sabbatical, the second explains the topic he's chosen to study for the sabbatical time given over to studying.

Dear friends,

Most of you know by now that the Diocese is giving me a 3-month sabbatical, which begins on 10th May, and will be followed directly by our annual summer holiday. I’ll be back on Monday 2nd September, and my first Sunday back will be 8th September.

I wanted to write to let you all know what I have planned and how church life will be affected.

I’ll start with a brief outline of my plans. The Diocese has told me that the purpose of sabbatical is to rest, but that rest is not the same as inactivity! The aim is to come back, freshly energised for ministry, renewed in the 3 dimensions of body, mind and spirit.

My Plans

I will therefore build in plenty of time in for prayer and personal Bible reading, including some time away specifically for this purpose.

I have some study planned on a particular theological topic that I wish to explore; to help that study be profitable, I have found a supervisor with whom I can meet and discuss what I’m learning so that he can recommend what to read next.

For 10 days, I will visit Israel and Palestine as part of an Oak Hall expedition; this is something I’ve never had the chance to do, and I look forward to visiting many of the sites where God’s dealings and self-revelation actually took place.

We’re also looking forward to worshipping as a family in other churches where we have no responsibility; we don’t normally have the chance to worship with friends because of Sunday commitments here.

Church Life

Whilst you won’t see any of us in church at Kemsing or Woodlands, life in the church will go on as normal. You may see me around the village. Do smile and say hello; we don’t have to avoid each other in a weird way! At the same time, I am taking a break from church life and all its issues, so please don’t expect me to engage in a long conversation. I won’t know anything about what’s going on in church (so don’t ask me), and I won’t wish to (so don’t tell me)!

While I’m away, the two churchwardens are in charge. If any decisions are needed that I would normally take, please ask them; they may decide a matter needs to wait until I return, or they could make a decision to keep things moving, after seeking advice from others if necessary.

Cover is arranged for all the Sunday services. A range of people will visit to take services; please welcome them; they’ve been generous with their time to come and serve us. Please be gracious too. Every church has different ways of doing things; as visitors they will try their best to lead in the way we’re accustomed, but invariably things won’t be exactly the same.

There is one wedding while I’m away; Adie is taking that, and has got to know the couple already.

There will be funerals; Philip, Mary and Ruth will take most, and other readers / clergy from the area will help if there are a lot of funerals in a short space of time. Anita is running the office, and that includes being the first point of contact for all funeral arrangements. On funerals, I’ve been told by the diocese not to return from sabbatical temporarily in order to attend any funerals.

There is one scheduled PCC meeting and one Standing Committee meeting while I’m away. The PCC will appoint a vice chair at its meeting in May. Some of you will have been here during past vacancies, between one vicar and the next. During those seasons, the PCC makes no decisions to change things significantly, but keeps things moving forwards in the same direction; sabbaticals are the same. A major PCC priority is the building of the hall; if extraordinary meetings are needed to progress this, the vice chair will convene them.

A few things do need to wait until I return. I’ve been advised that applications for new or altered headstones (“CR1” forms) need to wait. There is one baptism taking place at Woodlands, with a family I have already prepared. Other than that, I will handle future enquiries, and carry out the preparation, when I return.

Overall, things in the two churches here are in good heart. I can step back from my normal responsibilities confident these are two happy, caring, serving churches. I’m grateful to all those who will keep things running, both those within our church family and those who will come in from outside.

Please pray for me, and for the Oakley family as a whole, as we take this time out, that God would rekindle our love for the Lord Jesus, and give us fresh energy to serve him on our return.

Every blessing to you all,