Year of Renewal

Dates: September 2024 – October 2025

What is a Year of Renewal? It’s a time for us to be more intentionally and differently discerning about how God is working in and through us as we seek to understand more deeply and, perhaps, in new ways, the story of God’s love for God’s creation. It’s a way of becoming more a part of the story that has been ours since before we were born.

What is sabbatical? A sabbatical is time away from the parish for the clergy person to deepen their faith and restore their spiritual equilibrium. They are not vacation, nor are they continuing education. In the Diocese of Newark, clergy are expected to take sabbatical after five years in a call, though there is some flexibility with that.

How is it funded? There are different ways to fund sabbatical, with some parishes budgeting for it, and others expecting the clergy to pay for it. The diocese provides a relatively small stipend to clergy and, in some places, there are outside organizations that offer some financial assistance. We are extremely fortunate that we applied to the Lilly Endowment Fund and received a grant of $48,666! While most of that is dedicated to sabbatical activities, some is for the coverage Rev. Jane will provide, and some is for the congregational activities during the Year of Renewal. (More about them in the coming months.) And, since we started planning in the Fall of 2022, I have been designating honoraria from funerals and baptisms to a sabbatical fund, which has almost $4000 in it.

Is there a theme? The theme for the Year of Renewal is based on two pieces of Scripture: “Taste and see the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.’ (Ps. 38:4) and “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10. The focus is opening paths to experience God more deeply and embodying our faith in ways that are not the ordinary and which delight the senses. Initially, we hoped to kick off the year with a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but that is no longer possible. As a result, we are re-working some of the congregational activities, and will keep you posted.

Rev. Paula’s sabbatical will explore this theme in three phases, taking the time to enjoy the landscapes, sites, sounds, food, and people. Because she experiences God quite deeply in the beauty and wonder of God’s creation, she will be journeying in the fall and spring:

  • September 20 – October 23, 2024 she will be in Spain, where she will be joined by some of family to walk part of the Camino de Santiago, which is the third most important pilgrimage in Christianity. (The Holy Land and Rome are numbers one and two.) She will complete the latter half of the pilgrimage on her own, exploring holy sites and sacred places.
  • Spring 2025 – She will spend about a month in the UK, exploring holy sites and sacred places in England, Scotland, and Wales that are part of our roots as Anglicans.
  • Spring 2025 – She will spend about a month in New Mexico and Colorado, initially on her own to rest and reflect upon the two pilgrimages and how they will shape her faith and ministry. She plans to do some writing about her experience. The final two weeks she’ll be joined by Ron and Daisy, and they will spend time with family and friends.