Rector’s Sabbatical – click here for information

Welcome and Connect
February 1, 2023

Rector’s Sabbatical – click here for information

A prayer for Fr. Kevin, his family, and our St Francis family:
Dear God - you lead us to places of challenge and growth, and to places of refreshment.
Accompany each of us through this sabbatical journey - that we may walk with humility and humor, open to Your revealing.
We ask that You gift us with love, given and received. Grant each of us safety in our travels, and joy as we celebrate what we have seen and done.
The Sabbatical Newsletter was created to share news and information while Fr. Kevin was away, so this will be our last issue.

We welcomed back the Dellaria family on September 10th with a good old-fashioned picnic and ice cream social. A heartfelt “thank you” to our Committee members, Deacon Diane, Joe Perry and all the volunteers who gave so freely of their time and talents to make this “welcome back” reunion special. Thank you to Fr. John and Nina for their leadership during Fr. Kevin’s absence and we look forward to seeing them again soon.

The congregation participated in ten different renewal activities, which are briefly summarized below:

May 1 - Ten parishioners participated in a guided bird-watching tour at Rushton Woods Farm, which started at 7:00AM, but it was worth the early morning start.
May 7 – Thirty parishioners attended the photo tips workshop presented by our own Ed Damerau. This was an informative presentation with helpful tips for parishioners to use in preparation for the Parish Collage Project.
May 9 – Four Afghan immigrant speakers, from the Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia, spoke to us about the principles of Islam. The women speakers shared heartbreaking stories about the Taliban takeover after the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. There was much laughter among some sobering storytelling because the women believed “laughter is the best medicine”.
May 13 – A mini workshop, organized by Jill Quinn and Laura Petersen, who assisted attendees with designing their own container pots while helping to beautify St. Francis gardens. This was a fun activity and the nine attendees designed some beautiful container pots.
May 21 – One hundred and eight parishioners, including a few guests, were in attendance to give the Dellarias a great send-off celebration. What a beautiful day this was!
June 29 - Rabbi Jon Cutler from Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County gave an overview of Judaism and spoke about The Torah, which is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Thirty-two parishioners were in attendance.
July 12 – Mughees Chaudhri from The Islamic Society of Chester County captured the attention of the thirty-eight attendees with his presentation. We learned about the similarities and differences of Islam to Christianity with some excellent questions from the attendees.
July 22 – Thirteen parishioners spent a beautiful afternoon at Chanticleer Gardens, enjoyed lunch in the picnic area followed by a guided walking tour.
August 26 - Fr. John, Nina and Joe Perry led a "mini" retreat designed to help us respond to the wonderful invitations by Jesus to rest in Him. The “mini” retreat was a combination of Scripture readings, prayer, meditation, singing songs, and reading poetry. This was a peaceful time to slow down and relax.
September 23 – A second tour of Chanticleer Gardens.


Congregation Collage Project

As of end of August, over 90 pictures have been received, which we organized into activity folders for ease of access. A reminder, the project goes to the end of September.

“Finding God in Our Everyday Lives” is the theme of our Congregation Collage Project, which mirrors one of Fr. Kevin’s sabbatical activities. How is God reflected in work, nature, music, art, and industry? Or even when we play? Fr. Kevin plans to capture this through photo journaling to share upon his return with the congregation. We are inviting everyone to engage in a similar activity by capturing their own pictures, over the summer months, which St. Francis will then use to build collages reflecting God’s presence. Please consider taking pictures from May through September and send these to [email protected].



So, the sabbatical is over and you ask, what next? Fr. Kevin and the congregation will get together, over the next few months, to talk about his many experiences, and explore questions such as: “What went well? What did we, as a congregation, learn? What surprised the congregation during his time away, etc.? A meeting between him and the Sabbatical Committee will be scheduled and we will share more information with the congregation. Lastly, a final report to close out the grant will be sent to the Lilly Foundation by summer 2024. Thank you, from a grateful Sabbatical Planning Committee: Jane Brooks, Fr. Kevin, Susan Nangle, Nancy Needhammer, Joe Perry, Jill Quinn, John Woodcock (Pastoral Consultant) and Shirley Warren (Chair).

Frequently Asked Sabbatical Questions

What is a Sabbatical/Renewal Leave?
The word “Sabbatical” has its roots in the biblical concept of Sabbath meaning (“to rest” or “to cease”). Sabbatical leave is a time for Kevin to shift gears in order to rest, disengage, study, reflect, and travel in order to return and minister among us refreshed and renewed in body, mind, and spirit. It is a time to receive spiritual nourishment and a change in perspective, to deepen the relationship between God, himself, and his family – a season of spiritual growth. This special time will also be a season of growth for the entire congregation.

Sabbatical is not a time for routine work, mid-career assessment, job search, or retirement planning. It is not a vacation nor is it a time to do things that distract from the purpose of rest and renewal.

What are Kevin’s plans for his Sabbatical?
Kevin is crafting his Sabbatical around the theme: “Experiencing God through Life and Culture”. The focus of the Sabbatical will be to seek, celebrate, and practice the presence and gifts of God in human endeavor, exploring the intersection of Divine inspiration and human labor and creativity. The program is designed to include ample time for rest and reflection, but also involve travel through areas in the upper Midwest of the United States and the United Kingdom. These journeys will include the creation of photographic journals, reflecting on the spiritual realities revealed along the way. In addition to investigating and celebrating God’s gifts of creativity, industry, and culture, the Sabbatical plan also includes intentional time for deeper study, personal instruction, and practice of the Great Highland Bagpipe (GHB), with particular attention to the ancient, prayerful and melodic form of pipe music known as Ceol Mor, or Piobaireachd.

Why is Kevin taking a Sabbatical now?
Kevin’s contract agreement with St. Francis specifies that he will be eligible to take a sabbatical after three years, with two weeks of sabbatical leave accrued per year of service through the sixth year. July 1, 2023, will mark Kevin’s seventh complete year with St. Francis as a pastor. Kevin has served as Rector of St. Francis since July 1, 2016, leading the congregation through times of significant transition throughout those years. Pastors, in general, serve many roles in the church. Depending on the size and nature of the church, they are counselors, weekly public speakers, worship planners, physical plan consultants, Bible and theology teachers, youth faith encouragers, community leaders, and social justice advocates. In addition, they conduct weddings, baptism, and funerals and are often on call 24/7. Those times of transition and growth require a lot of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy from the pastor, the congregation, and their families. Kevin’s time at St. Francis has proven to be fruitful for our congregation, but a period of renewal will help refresh him for new spiritual leadership in the future.

How long will Kevin be gone?
Kevin will be gone for a little over 3 months, which is the suggested timeframe. His sabbatical dates are not yet confirmed, but will likely take place from late May to mid-September 2023. Some regular vacation time will be in conjunction with the sabbatical, with other vacation time used at other times during the year.

Who will cover Kevin’s responsibilities during his absence?
Kevin and the Committee are currently working with the Diocese of Pennsylvania to assist us in hiring a Supply Priest who will provide worship services and pastoral care. The Supply Priest will be supported by our talented Deacon, Rector’s Warden, Vestry and other faithful volunteers. As soon as a Supply Priest is hired, the Committee will provide a detailed plan to the congregation.

Who will I call to plan a special service?
The Parish Office will be opened during its usual hours, staffed by our Deacon, and assisted by the Rector’s Warden and other faithful volunteers. They, along with the Supply Priest, will arrange for weddings, funerals, baptisms, and other special services.

Who do I call if I have a family or personal crisis?
For pastoral concerns, members of St. Francis will contact our Deacon, the Rev. Diane Faison, or Jill Quinn, Rector’s Warden. Together they will share responsibility to arrange pastoral care and refer members, as appropriate, to qualified professionals in the wider community. Although our Supply Priest may provide some pastoral care, their available time will likely be limited.

Who will pay for the Sabbatical expenses/activities?
The Sabbatical Committee is assisting Kevin in applying for a renewal grant from the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program, which is specific for sabbatical renewal of both clergy and the congregation. If received, the grant will cover the expenses for Kevin and his family, as well as some parish activities. In addition to the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program, we will also apply for a Sabbath Leave Grant from the Diocese of Pennsylvania. We will know by August 2022, if we are successful in getting either grant.

Does Kevin’s salary continue during Sabbatical?
During the Sabbatical, the church will continue to pay Kevin’s full salary, health insurance and all other benefits, per his contract.

Will the church just be in a “holding pattern” while Kevin is away?
Absolutely Not! All our ministries will continue as usual while Kevin is away. It is important to remember that the sabbatical is a two-way process: while Kevin is on his journey of sabbatical rest, renewal, refreshment, and reflection, St. Francis will embark on its own journey as well – embracing the occasion for our own reflection and renewed focus on God’s call to be His Body. 

Can you say more about the congregational renewal activities?
In the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal grant application, the congregation will outline our plan to use this time (and the grant funds) to explore our own passions for different ministries and more open conversation. We will plan activities that will help our age-diverse church and discover where our experiences and interests overlap across age groups. The Committee has scheduled the following education sessions and we will solicit ideas from the congregation for renewal activities.

How can I learn more about the sabbatical?
Please feel free to speak directly with Kevin, a member of the Vestry, or a member of the Sabbatical Committee. As a Committee, we will keep the congregation fully updated throughout with regular communications.

Who are the members of the Sabbatical Planning Committee? Jane Brooks, Mike Burke, Don Jenkins, Fr. Kevin, Nancy Needhammer, Joe Perry, Jill Quinn, John Woodcock (Pastoral Consultant) and Shirley Warren (Chair).