There are several topics I’d like to address in my letter this quarter: 1) Our yearly theme of Exploring Holy Space 2) What we are doing with our “Holy Space” here on the Bon Air Campus and 3) The Holy Space and Time I will soon be experiencing on Sabbatical.
1) Exploring Sacred Space: This year has already been powerful for me as we’ve begun to explore Sacred Space. I truly enjoyed exploring the concepts of “home” during Advent and Christmas, and “Rome” during Epiphany. Our Rome theme focused mainly on reading through the book of Romans with the Good Book Club, and many of you, like me, were simultaneously challenged and fulfilled by engaging in this robust letter from Paul. Our guest speakers, both Hanan Kharabsha from Palestine, and our own Gordon Jackson fleshed out the idea of sacred space “elsewhere.”
I hope you look forward to engaging the Sacred Space of Wilderness during Lent, as we walk the Way of Love. Then, in the Easter Season, we will explore Sanctuary and Tabernacle…. Culminating in a one day parish pilgrimage to Washington DC to see the Washington National Cathedral, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. After a summer of resting into the Sacred Space of Creation, we prepare for our parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I hope you are able to embrace these opportunities as a way to explore and expand your own sense of Sacred Space in your own life.
2) “Space” has been an issue here at St. Michael’s ever since before I became your priest almost seven years ago. For over 10 years, there has been a constant, at least low-grade, anxiety about how St. Michael’s would care for and use our space once the school moved entirely to its new campus. This anxiety has been based in the fear that we’d be “stuck” with exorbitant costs of upkeep that could “sink” the church financially. Granted, this issue [dealing with the now vacant school space] is extremely important. Future generations will look back at this time in our history and evaluate how the decisions we make today affected our future. We are clear that we don’t want our buildings and land to be an albatross around the neck of our ministry. So, please know that the leadership (Vestry, key lay leaders, and me) take this responsibility seriously. Also know that we have already seen miracles! Our discernment processes, the charrette, and our research have been enlightening. We have a great asset in our land and buildings, and we are confident that we will soon be able to sell the portion of the property we don’t need to a party whose mission compatible with our own. Keep up the prayers, and feel free to ask Tom Ager, vestry member in charge of property transition, or Doug Schepker, former Junior Warden who is chair of our Facility Work Group, if you have more questions as we “right-size” our space for our future.
3) I will be on sabbatical May 15-Aug. 21, 2019. A Sabbatical is space and time for reflection and renewal granted to priests (and some other professions) in order to prepare oneself for renewed engagement in ministry. I look forward to this time of sabbatical, my first ever in 19 years of ministry, (even though clergy normally earn sabbaticals every 4-7 years.) To answer questions I have heard pop up, and to relieve any anxiety over my upcoming time away, I have put together a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet that will be available in the narthex at church, and online. I’ll be using my sabbatical mostly to write my doctoral thesis as well as being able to spend some extended time with my mother, my adult children, and other family. Please know that “sabbatical” is NOT code for “job search.” While I know better than to tell God to ratify my plans, I love St. Michael’s and I foresee much wonderful ministry together in our future. I look forward to returning having accomplished my thesis, having had time to rest, hike, and spend time with family, and having God inspire me with expansive visions of St. Michael’s future ministry. So, read the FAQ sheet, and let me know if you have any questions.