From the New Hampshire Episcopalian
Go West, young man (and South)
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
As you read this, I will be beginning a three month sabbatical leave, as prescribed for clergy in this diocese every five years. To say the least, the last five years have been busy for me at times busy and exhilarating, at other times difficult and challenging. I am ready for a rest.
Most memorable for me in these last five years was the day of my election not just because of being elected, but because of the feeling of the presence of the Holy Spirit in that church on that clear June morning in 2003. To have been called to this ministry by the very peers with which I had served for nearly thirty years was an indescribable blessing. I cannot remember a time when I have felt so humbled, so unworthy and so wanting to fulfill the hope you placed in God working through me. Whether or not I was ever confirmed by the larger Church mattered less than the confidence you expressed in me.
The drama over your election of me as Bishop continues to play out. In the end, God will have GodÂ¹s way. Episcopalians in America and Anglicans around the world continue to seek GodÂ¹s guidance in dealing with the challenge that my election represents. On a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis, I remember the phrase so often repeated in the Old and New Testaments by the God who loves us: ‘Be not afraid.’
Now it is time for me to rest a while. I intend to do so. I also will be doing some things that I have wanted to do, and which this time will permit me. For a month, I will be traveling in the Pacific. I will be traveling to several parts of the Anglican Communion to learn about the Christian life in different contexts. I hope to make a contribution to the ongoing life of the Communion by meeting personally with some of the Anglican Church Primates who are willing to receive me to hear about the challenges that they face in THEIR contexts, to learn about the spread of the Gospel in far off places, and mostly to build relationships with some who do not know or understand OUR context for ministry. The Primates have no way of knowing who I really am, beyond what the press has said. I hope that my building relationships with some of them might, in some small way, contribute to reconciliation in the Anglican Communion. These Â³stopsÂ² include Hong Kong, a remote diocese in the Solomon Islands (Province of Melanesia), Australia and New Zealand. My partner Mark will join me ‘down under’ for some ‘down time’ in Australia and New Zealand, two places weÂ¹ve always wanted to visit, but have never had the opportunity.
Upon my return, I have been offered someoneÂ¹s house on beautiful Squam Lake to do some writing. Church Publishing has asked me to work on a book, tentatively entitled ‘In the Eye of the Storm.’ In addition to having the opportunity to write about the Gospel, for which I am so passionate, this will also afford me the time away to read, reflect, and pray. Although Jesus usually went to the mountain to pray, Squam Lake doesnÂ¹t sound like a bad substitute! This time will afford me a quiet and thoughtful Advent, not to mention time to spend with my children and grandchildren. I look forward to returning to this ministry that I so love with joy and energy and focus.
Thank you for making this time of refreshment and renewal possible. It is one of the many blessings that come with this ministry, and I deeply appreciate it. My promise to you is that I will not fill it up with activity, but use it to get the rest and refreshment I need and crave. I will return to my work on January 1, ready to embrace and celebrate the months and years ahead with you, my brothers and sisters. Pray for me, and be assured that my prayers of thanksgiving for your lives and ministries will ascend every day that I am away.
Your brother in Christ,