A letter from Bishop Rachel – My sabbatical

Published: May 9, 2019

‘Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’’ John 20:19

In this season of Eastertide I want to thank you once again for all the ways you are living and sharing the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ in your different contexts. It was wonderful to see so many of you at the Chrism Eucharist on Maundy Thursday. For those who were unable to be there, my sermon is here >>>

I hope that since then you have had a joyous Easter with an opportunity to live some days of different rhythm with plenty of rest and refreshment. And talking of which….

Sabbatical 13 June – 3 September:
I want to let you know now that I will be taking a 10 week sabbatical. This is a first for me and I am very grateful to all those who are making this possible. I am particularly grateful to Bishop Robert, and whilst I am sad not to be ordaining the new deacons and priests at Petertide, I am delighted that Bishop Robert will be doing so. As I celebrate the 4th anniversary of my consecration in July I will be giving immense thanks for this wonderful diocese and the privilege of sharing in ministry with you. I am glad that on my return from sabbatical in September it will not be long until we gather together for our clergy conference. If you have not booked your place, please be aware that the cut-off date is 31 May. To book a place please click here.

Whilst I am on sabbatical I will not have access to my emails and it would be extremely helpful if you could direct emails to an appropriate recipient other than me. I am assuming that a number of things can be dealt with by archdeacons (including any matters relating to vacancies). However, if you have a matter requiring episcopal attention, please contact Bishop Robert: / 01452 835562.

If your matter relates to a forthcoming liturgical event, please contact my chaplain David Gardiner: / 01452 835513 and if you have a diary query or request please contact Diane Best, my personal secretary: / 01452 835511.

Di and David will also manage my Bgloucester email account but it would be very helpful if emails could be sent directly to them rather than via my account (and please don’t save up all your emails for me until September!).

I would be grateful if you could share the above information with colleagues including parish officers.

Sabbatical theme:
My sabbatical theme is ‘Encounter’ and I will spend part of it in Galilee where I will be reading and reflecting on Christ’s encounters with people as told in the Gospels. I will then be having times of re-encounter with people and places who/which have shaped me. This will include a return visit to South Africa where I did a placement in 1994 prior to my ordination and leading up to the first SA elections after the official end of apartheid. I am also looking forward to catching up with old friends and family as well as having time for reading, including 10 novels which have each been recommended to me by a different member of the staff team.

From now until then…
In these coming weeks before my sabbatical I am looking forward to Ascension Day, particularly remembering how our process of prayer and conversation to discern our diocesan vision began with a day of prayer at the Cathedral on Ascension Day 2016. Plans are already underway for a celebratory diocesan event in November as we move into the fourth year of our LIFE vision. It’s for all in our worshipping communities (parish churches, chaplaincies, Fresh Expressions, schools etc.) and is being held on Saturday 9 November, between 2-5pm at All Saints Academy, Cheltenham.

In the days between Ascension and Pentecost I invite you to participate with me in Thy Kingdom Come as we join with Christians around the world praying for more people to encounter Jesus Christ www.thykingdomcome.global Over these 11 days there will also be an encouragement in this diocese to pray each day for one of our vision priorities which will be introduced by an individual living out their everyday faith in a different context.

It seems fitting that my final Sunday before the start of my sabbatical is Pentecost Sunday and I will be baptising and confirming a diverse group of people at the morning Eucharist in the Cathedral. On the eve of Pentecost (Saturday June 8th) the Evangelist J John will be speaking at the Cathedral at an event organised and promoted by churches of different denominations in Gloucester city. More information can be found here >>>

As you walk into the days ahead may you continue to know the hope, love and peace of the risen Christ.

This comes with my thanks and prayers,

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