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Blog: March 2024 - Extended Study Leave

From 1st April (Easter Monday) – Saturday 22nd June I shall be away from the Parishes on Extended Study Leave – formerly known as a ‘Sabbatical’.  Such periods of study, thinking, reflection, recuperation, regeneration, recreation, and refreshment are encouraged every seven years or so for those in full time ordained ministry, recognising there are no set hours, and you never really switch off from all that is around us.  People are always around, and the challenges and changes of the world never stop either.


Many ruefully remark how much they would like to have this in their own sphere of work and life, and in this season of Lent we are reminded of the importance of taking time sometimes from all the pressures that pile on us in life, to have space to think, pray and reflect.  Indeed, I’m writing this whilst on my annual Lenten retreat for a few days at West Malling Abbey in Kent.


So, what am I going to do?  In the same way that I have discovered ‘retreat’ is very different from ‘holiday’, extended study leave/sabbatical is also different.  We are encouraged to study, pray and think.  Also, to take some time relaxing and to try something new and different or neglected – a hobby, craft, or skill.


In the first week, Catherine and I are on holiday seeing our grandson for his 1st birthday!  Then I’m alone in a North Wales Jesuit Study Centre for an ‘individually guided silent personal retreat’ – all of which I’ve done before but never all at the same time!  Then 5-6 weeks at Ridley Hall Theological College in Cambridge, taking a course on Biblical Theology and joining a Greek Reading Group.  I am also having some organ lessons and spending time with an agricultural engineer and in my garden and woodwork shop brushing up on skills I’ve not used for many decades.


I shall not be available on email or phone during this time.  I leave our 5 churches in the capable hands of our 5 PCCs, and I’m really grateful to them all for their support in enabling me to take this time.  Some will be doing things for the first time.  The main points of contact during my absence will be our Administrator and Rector’s PA, Mrs Alison Belding (phone TBA) for anything practical, and for ministry and pastoral matters our Licenced Reader Mrs Geraldine Skinner, Tel 01234 771198, both of whom will also have an emergency contact number for me.


Maybe this Lent and whilst I’m away is an opportunity for you to explore what God might be calling and equipping you to do in ministry in and out of His church?

Timothy Wilson

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