Dear Diocesan Family,
It is with great confidence, gratitude and enthusiasm that I share with you news of my upcoming Sabbatical, scheduled for June through September. Confidence in our Diocesan leadership and staff to carry on the mission and ministry in my absence, gratitude for the support and prayers of our Diocesan family, and enthusiasm for all that God has planned as I enter into this time of reflection and renewal.
The principle of sabbatical (“of the Sabbath”) is a biblical practice that is designed as a seventh-year opportunity to take time away to re-invigorate one’s relationship with God and help them reconnect with their call to serve. Clergy are called to a very demanding task that often requires continuous engagement in ministry in order to effectively fulfill the mission of God. The practice of a seven-year sabbatical allows for an extended period for self-reflection, growth, and intimacy with Christ that the rigors of continuous ministry seldom allows.
When I was unanimously called to the be the chief pastor and bishop of this diocese, it was in a period of enormous uncertainty for its future as a diocese within the structure of the Episcopal Church. In this my seventh year as bishop, with the support of well over 100 faithful and committed clergy and lay directly involved on the diocesan-level and with the faithful optimism and sacrificial support of the over 7000 Episcopalians (40 congregations) that comprise our diocesan family, the diocese is well-positioned to continue to live robustly into the future of God’s dream. Evidenced by what is seen and known we have made remarkable strides in the direction of sustainability and greater viability. There are more diocesan personnel from a wider cross-section of members engaged in ministry. The diocese is in the forefront of lay and clergy training and greater empowerment for mission and ministry and is now a vital resource for congregational development. From my vantage point, the future of the Diocese of Easton lies in the hands of God and the faithful members of the diocese. The present state of diocesan life was the motivating inspiration and impetus that informed my decision to proceed on sabbatical. My hope is to return refreshed and renewed for the next phase of our life in Christ.
Some of my sabbatical time will be spent in self-care, health and wellness initiatives, retreats and pilgrimages, study, reflection and writing – including discerning phase II of the Diocesan Vision. Phase I has proven to be a fruitful experiment. The leadership of the diocese at its recently concluded retreat has designated the year 2023 to do interpretive reflection on the learnings of Parousia and its impact and influence on the overall life of the diocese.
I informed the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council in early 2022 of my intention to proceed on a three-month sabbatical and one-month annual leave to be taken concurrently. This information was reaffirmed at the 155th Annual Diocesan Convention in March. My sabbatical will cover the month of June to September 2023. During that time the Standing Committee will serve as the Ecclesiastical Authority. The Canon to the Ordinary, John Dragone and the staff of the Office of the Bishop will be responsible for the administrative work and ensuring all matters of faith and order are attended to in a timely manner.
I continue to develop the full itinerary of my sabbatical time and will be sending the final schedule to the diocese in the coming months. It will also be posted on our website. In the meantime, I would like to solicit your prayers and support as I continue with preparations to proceed on sabbatical. All full-time clergy of the diocese are entitled to benefit from this gift of sabbatical time from their parishes. The diocese has accrued over the last six years $7,500 to assist with the cost of the bishop’s sabbatical. You are welcome to donate to the Bishop San’s sabbatical expenses by sending donations to: Diocese of Easton memo line Bishop’s San Sabbatical or online by clicking here.
I do appreciate your expression of love and generosity.