The Revd John Whittaker’s Sabbatical thoughts

Many churches, including the Church of England, encourage their ministers to look for the opportunity to have a sabbatical, some extended deliberate time away from regular parish responsibilities. This can be three months long and can be applied for every 7 years of serving as a vicar / rector.

Ten years ago I immensely valued the chance to do this, whilst serving in the Leicester diocese and found the gift of some time away left me refreshed and re-energised.

On May 15th, I begin my sabbatical and go straight into a 2,200 mile cycling pilgrimage around the 42 Anglican Cathedrals of England. This will take me up to about July 5th and will be followed, a couple of weeks later, by a camper van trip with Helena to France, Switzerland, Italy, Sicily, Croatia, Austria, Germany and back to the UK.

Whilst I am away, I am very grateful to Rev’d Daniel for taking on Acting Team Rector across the parish, Rev’d Jane taking many responsibilities at St Mary’s and Rev’d Helena (for part), wardens and staff colleagues who all will support this time away.

Bishop Christopher has offered to start my pilgrimage with a Eucharist in his chapel at 8 am on the Monday morning. I plan to end the pilgrimage at evensong at Southwark Cathedral on Wednesday 5th July and once this date is firmed up, will have a church mouse sent giving an invitation to anyone who would like to attend.

I feel sad at the thought of being away for so long and will hold you in prayers and ask you for your prayer. I also trust that this immense gift is a gift which will enhance my ministry over many years to come and am deeply grateful for it!

God Bless