From the Sabbatical Planning Committee
“Sabbath is a gift of a new perspective, seeing God’s creation afresh. … Sabbath is a discipline that yields much fruit but it also requires that one put less value on busyness and more value on being.” ~ Kathleen Casey
On February 5, 2018, our rector, Rev. Arianne Rice, will leave her responsibilities at the church for a 3-month sabbatical. Intentionally, she will have no contact with the church. Her duties will be shared by a group of capable individuals whom she and Snowden Stanley, Sr. Warden, have carefully selected. During the 3 months, she will spend a period of time in Sedona, Arizona; Paris, France and Assisi, Italy, as well as time closer to home in Ruxton and Baltimore. This sabbatical is being made possible through a grant awarded by the Lilly Endowment through the National Clergy Renewal Program. The Program’s grants are intended to strengthen congregations by providing an opportunity for pastors to step away from the demands of daily parish life and to engage in a period of renewal. In particular, Arianne’s award was granted so she will continue to develop in the area of contemplative leadership. She will return to her duties as rector on May 2, 2018.
While Arianne is away, Rev. Jessica Sexton will be the priest-in-charge. Jessica will continue to preach two Sundays per month alternating with guest preachers. Local clergy have offered to assist Jessica with weekly pastoral support as needed. Benjamin Sax, Jewish Scholar at Institute for Islamic, Christian, Jewish Studies, will preach one Sunday in February, then lead a Lenten series for the congregation on Tuesday evenings on Sabbath Time.
What is Sabbatical? Why is it so important for clergy? For anyone? We don’t have much experience or knowledge of Sabbath in our culture. But Jesus did.
“The very nature of being an effective pastor involves continual spiritual growth,” according to Roy M. Oswald. “The pastoral role generally involves long, hard hours without weekends off, or even the occasional long weekend...Every weekend involves a major output of energy on Sunday. Friday and Saturday are often consumed by sermon preparation, wedding rehearsals and weddings and so forth...When you add up the time off clergy miss that most lay people take for granted, it becomes clear that a three month renewal leave is a reasonable proposal that helps make up for that loss.”
Arianne’s three month sabbatical could also be a time when the congregation gathers to discern its own continued spiritual growth. It could become a time to ask the questions, how close are we to meeting our mission, and where do we want to go from here? More importantly, where and to what action is God calling us in this moment of our church’s history? How can the congregation effectively use this time to reflect on our shared initiatives moving forward?
Let us hope that Arianne’s time away will be one of refreshment and renewal that will re-invigorate an already vibrant and dynamic church leader, as well as an opportunity for the congregation to consider its own faithfulness to God’s call.
- Paula Schonewald, Sabbatical Planning Committee
Oswald, Roy M, “Why a Sabbatical?” Forward to Clergy Renewal: The Alban Guide to Sabbatical Planning by Richard Bullock and Richard J. Bruesehoff. Copyright 2000 by the Alban Institute, Inc., Herndon, VA
Casey, Kathleen, Sabbath Presence: Appreciating the Gifts of Each Day, Ave Maria Press, 2006
Members of the Sabbatical Planning Committee:
Paula Schonewald, Stanley Snowden, Kate Knott, Rev. Arianne Rice, Rev. Jessica Sexton