Dear People’s people,

I write this on the first morning of study leave, three weeks of intentional planning, studying, and reading. It’s not vacation, but a slower pace of work, with sustained attention on planning, which is often set aside in the day-to-day work of the church. Here are some of the things I hope to accomplish:

  • Prepare a basic outline of what will be happening in Sundays services from September through June. I will likely have topics selected through December and know who is leading worship for the whole year. This year, I am not planning an overarching theme for our services; I hope instead that our Sunday mornings will be more responsive to the messages our hearts—and our world—might call us to focus on.
  • Select and prepare my adult religious education offerings will be for the coming church year.
    I’m considering teaching a sermon seminar or revisiting Fred Campbell’s The Four Faiths, which a number of longer-term members have told me was meaningful when Fred offered it in the
    mid-1990s.
  • Read. I have an ambitious pile of books, including texts on paganism, strategy for social change, church history, and theology. I will also be reading a lot of poems and adding the ones that might work in worship to my files for future use.
  • I’ll be supporting the children’s RE program, by preparing a few paragraphs summarizing current scholarship about the biblical stories that our children will be learning this year. These notes will be included in the curriculum our teachers use and will help them better understand the historical context of the stories they are teaching.
  • Spiritual practice. In the rush between meetings that is so much of my work life, I don’t always take as much time as a need to center myself. Study leave allows me that time.

Every year, I set an ambitious agenda for myself—and only accomplish a fraction of it.  I expect that will be the case again this year. There are always too many worthy books and too many worthy projects.

May your August give you a chance to focus your attention on what matters most in your life,

See you in church,
Rev. Rachel

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