Rev Canon Simon Ward talks about his forthcoming sabbatical

SIMON WARD 12-201827th August 2021
Many of you will know that in the autumn I am taking a sabbatical from parish ministry and so will be out of the parish until I return in early December. I’ll not be around or tending to any parochial duties during that time. Sabbatical is not something I have done before although I have contemplated and planned one for some time but have never taken one in over 20 years of ministry
Some of you may wonder what it is and what I will be doing? First of all, it is a time to step aside and have a period of rest and reflection. I will be taking time for retreat and prayer to recharge spiritual batteries. Second, I will use time to take on some physical challenges such as runs and cycle rides which I do not routinely have the time to enter. So, there is an element of body and soul
Another dimension is to have time to study, learn and find out more. One area of particular interest to me is the work of the church among those who experience homelessness and so I will take time to investigate this. I’ll make some visits to various charities who make varied responses; from soup kitchens to housing schemes. The questions which interest me is how they were set up, how they are funded, how they are staffed, how volunteers are deployed and many more questions beside. I’ll make some visits to different towns and cities to see how Christians respond to our call to love and serve those most in need. I’m excited to learn what other communities are up to
One of the challenges of a sabbatical is stepping aside from things which are a routine part of priestly ministry and life. One does not stop being a priest of course but for a while there is a challenge to live that vocation differently. I’m looking forward to a retreat but the place I have booked has house rules which you must abide by: no church talk! While staying on retreat, guests are asked to refrain from questions such as “where is your parish” or “where did you train”. These are bread and butter conversation starters for most clergy! (you can tell it’s a glitzy and daring life we lead!)
To not talk about these factors begins to remove our identity. Ordained or not, we all do it in some way: we are known by the job we do or did or the roles or responsibilities we take on. Each of these is like a layer of identity. Underneath all of our layers is the person who God has created and loves. It is good to take time out to be reminded of that and to discover the depths of that love afresh
See you in December!
With love and prayers,
Fr Simon
Rev Canon Simon Ward
Team Rector, Great Yarmouth Parish


this article also appeared in Parish Life


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