Our rector, the Rev. Joe Hensley, will be on sabbatical June 3 – September 4, 2019. If you have a pastoral emergency (e.g. death, hospitalization, loss of job) and need to speak with a member of clergy, please call or text 540 361 8573. While Joe is away, our associate rector, the Rev. Areeta Bridgemohan will serve as acting rector. You can reach Pastor Areeta by calling the church office 540 373 4133 or via email.
If you have any questions, please contact our church office (540 373 4133).
Here is the letter Joe sent to the parish announcing his sabbatical.
April 8, 2019
Greetings beloved St. Georgians,
Grace to you and peace from God and our Savior Jesus Christ. I am writing to share more details about the announced sabbatical leaves for myself and our director of music ministries, John Vreeland. John’s last Sunday before leaving will be May 19. Mine will be Sunday, June 2. John will return August 18, and I will return September 4. This is an opportunity for reflection and renewal for us and for the parish as a whole.
The word, “sabbatical” comes from “sabbath,” times of rest commanded by God in scripture. St. George’s strives to exemplify sabbath practice by offering an extended time of rest every few years to full-time employees. This is time to truly unplug, which can be hard to do on days off or even on vacation. John and I wish to thank the congregation for your support as we receive this restful break.
Late last year, St. George’s applied for and received a generous congregational renewal grant from the Lilly Foundation. These grants are awarded for sabbatical renewal of both clergy and congregation. The grant will fund the expenses for me and my family to do some traveling, as well as some parish activities. The theme of the application was “wholeness,” which we have been exploring during this program year. I hope this period of rest can be a time to renew our connection with God through our bodies, the people we care about, and with all of creation. There will be more information coming about
the activities planned during the summer. Please mark your calendars for the first event, our spring outdoor service and picnic in Hurkamp Park on June 2.
The vestry has convened a sabbatical committee that is working to ensure the bases are covered while John and I are away. Life in the parish continues over the summer, and we will also need to be planning for fall. The committee is also considering how this time can be a renewal. With this letter is a list of the committee members and some frequently asked questions the committee has developed. Please contact the office if you have additional questions or concerns. Please join me in thanking our talented staff for their support and particularly to the Rev. Areeta Bridgemohan and Achim Loch for stepping in to key leadership roles.
I will close with a few words from author, Philip Shepherd, who is one of my inspirations for “wholeness.” He writes: “There is a gravity that is calling to your heart, and that loves you in all your brokenness. It is gently inviting you into a dance of surrender to your wholeness…When you take a chance on that dance, and venture even one step into its wild peace, you will be helping us all.” For us, that “gravity” is God. May we all know the grounding and grace of God’s gravitational love in this coming season.
Your rector and brother in Christ,
The Rev. Joseph H. Hensley, Jr.
Who are the members of the sabbatical committee?
Marilyn Farrington, Russ Carter, Sheryl Stroud Bryant, Areeta Bridgemohan, Laurel Loch, Nick Cadwallender, Anne Beals, Hurley Bogardus, Ethel Hellman, and Joe Hensley.
What will Joe and John be doing on their sabbaticals?
Joe will begin and end the sabbatical with spiritual retreats at monasteries. He will also visit with family and friends that he does not get to see very often. The centerpiece of the sabbatical is a family trip to Hawaii where they will hike and camp, exploring God’s creation.
John’s sabbatical will include lots of rest time, a trip to Brazil with Mary to visit with their son and new granddaughter, a week or two working with Parsons organ builders for some hands on experience in organ construction and maintenance, and two composition projects: a new Brazilian Mass setting for the 9 am Eucharist, and composing a hymn tune to accompany a poem by Beth Spragins written for St. George’s 300th anniversary celebration.
Who will cover Joe and John’s responsibilities in their absence?
Areeta Bridgemohan, will serve as the clergy in charge of the church. Our priest associate, Bob Miller, will add hours to his schedule. Our young adult missioner, David Casey, will continue his work in the wider community and be available occasionally. Our assistant director of music ministries, Achim Loch, will oversee music ministries during John’s sabbatical. In addition, we are hiring Dr. Brooks Kuykendall, a fellow St. Georgian and head of the music department at UMW to play some Sundays as well as Dr. Kelly Kazik, our former assistant organist.
Who will cover the expenses of the sabbatical?
St. George’s puts aside funds each year into a sabbatical fund, which will pay for the additional compensation needed. Joe and John will receive their usual compensation during the sabbatical period. A grant from the Lilly Foundation will cover all Joe’s sabbatical activities. There should be no need to go into the general operating budget for any sabbatical expenses, and it should not impact the church budget.
Whom do I call for pastoral care?
During the sabbatical, you may contact either Areeta or Bob. Our pastoral care ministries, particularly One Body Response Team and Stephen Ministers will also be responding to needs as they arise. Contact the church office or the pastoral emergency phone (540-361-8573) if you have an urgent pastoral need. Clergy will be available to conduct baptisms or funerals as needed. If you need to plan a wedding, please be in touch with Areeta.
Will Joe or John be in contact with St. George’s during the sabbatical?
An important part of a sabbatical is to make a complete break from things. In the unlikely event that some extraordinary news absolutely must be communicated to them, Areeta or Laurel Loch, our parish administrator, will know how to contact them. They will look forward to catching up with everyone on their return. If you happen to see them around town, it’s only natural to wave and say “hello”. Please do help them maintain the spirit of their sabbaticals, though, by providing separation from their duties and parish life.
What if I have other questions?
Please contact a member of our Vestry or reach out to Areeta or Laurel. If they cannot answer your question immediately, they will communicate it with our sabbatical planning committee so it can be addressed.