Pausing to Give Thanks

Shared by the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan.

Next week, on December 1, I will begin a three-month sabbatical. The root word for sabbatical is sabbath: a time set apart from everyday roles and responsibilities to be with God – a time to pause, rest, and reflect. All clergy serving in full-time parish or diocesan ministry in Connecticut, including your bishops, are blessed with the privilege of a three month sabbatical after five years of continuous service. Since my last sabbatical was July-September 2016, I had hoped to begin my second and final sabbatical last summer following my call for the election of the XVI Bishop Diocesan and a full year before I depart as your bishop on October 8, 2022. Because of the surge of the COVID-19 Delta Variant in the late summer I chose to postpone my sabbatical until a more suitable time.

Five years ago my sabbatical included the study of non-profit management at Harvard Business School and my first ever pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This upcoming sabbatical will be much more quotidian and less-glamorous. Often bishops are too busy to put their affairs in order before retiring; and yet it is important for diocesan archives that a bishop’s papers are well kept. Because of my commitment to leaving well and my appreciation for archives, I plan to use my upcoming sabbatical to go through and organize my papers, correspondence, files, emails, and books that have accumulated during the twelve years I have been bishop in preparation for collection in the ECCT archives. This archival work, however, will be much more than an administrative exercise. I have been invited by my spiritual director to pause with each file, letter, and email and give thanks to God for the blessing of each and every companion in Christ with whom I have shared in God’s mission of restoration and reconciliation. I very much look forward to such.

In order to live fully into this sabbath time of pausing and giving thanks, I will not be responding to incoming emails, phone calls, or correspondence; nor will I participate in Sunday parish visitations or diocesan meetings including our Wednesday morning Zoom calls with wardens, clergy, Region Leadership Teams, and ECCT staff. There will, however, be a few exceptions as I will continue my work with current clergy discipline cases and pressing property development plans for real estate held by the Missionary Society of ECCT. While I am away, episcopal oversight for ECCT will be in the most able and caring hands of Bishop Laura Ahrens. I thank God for Laura’s ever-sustaining collegiality, support, and friendship.

I close with the words of the Apostle Paul which sum up my feelings for all in ECCT as I go on sabbatical: “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)