The Methodist Church makes provision for its ministers to take a three-month sabbatical break from the routine of ministry every seven years – this year, in my case! By the time you read this letter, I will have already started my sabbatical and I will be absent from the circuit from mid-May to mid-August.
This is not an extended holiday but an opening to do something different, as a way of being refreshed in ministry; an opportunity to ‘power down’ and to get away from a hectic, diary-driven ministry, in order to spend more focused time with God. It is a requirement and not an option for ministers to take their sabbatical break.
There have been two main aspects to consider in planning the sabbatical. The first has been to decide how I should use the time. For your interest, I am pressing on with studies begun through Leeds University (which could lead to the award of a PhD), reflecting on my work across the two circuits, and what it means to talk about boundaries in ministry. My next step is to conduct some pilot studies, so some of you might see me around on occasion. I am also hoping to explore a bit more of my family history – since being in Bradford I have come to realize that my Drake family roots are in the Bradford/Halifax area, and I am hoping to learn more about Thornton in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Finally, I get to have a whole string of ‘proper’ weekends, which means we will be able to spend more time as a family.
The second aspect of sabbatical planning has been to make sure that there is adequate cover and provision made during my period of absence. I have been able to do this with the help of a sabbatical support group, which has consisted of a circuit steward from each circuit and Rev. Ian Griffiths (who has just returned from sabbatical himself). One of the good things about having a team ministry is that cover is provided from within the team, so that no special arrangements need to be made. So I would like to offer my thanks to everyone who has helped my sabbatical to happen.
I hope all of you have a blessed summer, and that each one of you will find at least a little space for rest and renewal in the months ahead.