March 01, 2018
Jesus said to them, ‘Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for awhile.’
This will be my last weekly post before the start of my 3-month sabbatical. I’m grateful for the opportunity to step away from work in order to rest, pray, and study. It’s a tremendous privilege to serve as your bishop, and the gift of time apart to prepare for the next season of my episcopate means more than I can say.
My sabbatical plans include an 8-day silent retreat, a conference on the writings of Marilynne Robinson, and time with our family over the Easter holiday. Mostly, however, I will be at home, riding my bike, catching up on reading, and studying churches from other faith traditions that are our neighbors in the diocese and are thriving.
I’ll focus my studies on two key areas:
How other churches create opportunities for people to come to know and receive Christ as their Savior, and how they encourage lifelong spiritual maturity and growth among their membership.
How other churches help people develop a healthy relationship to money.
These are among the common denominators we can observe in growing, thriving congregations. They do not assume that all who worship with them know what it means to be a follower of Jesus. They also invest significant resources in creating a culture that encourages, and indeed, expects spiritual growth among their people. Regarding financial stewardship, these congregations do not assume that all their members have a healthy relationship to money, and they work to establish that solid foundation as part of Christian discipleship.
When I return, I hope to further develop these areas of ministry within the collaborative relationships of our diocese.
During my absence, the diocesan staff will continue their good work among you, ably led by Canon Paul Cooney. Bishops Carl Wright and Chilton Knudsen have graciously agreed to serve as bishops on call, to be present both sacramentally and pastorally as they are needed.
I’ve asked members of the diocesan staff to share stories of good news and fruitful ministries from around the diocese in the weekly e-news. If you have a good news to share, contact Keely Thrall. Look for your e-bulletin each week, and be prepared to be inspired!
May God bless and keep you all in the days and weeks ahead. Know that you remain in my heart and prayers.