Rector’s Sabbatical – click here for information

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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.
Welcome to Issue #2 of the Sabbatical Newsletter, a special communication devoted to sharing news and information about our renewal time of Rest, Refresh and Refocus. We will be sending these out monthly throughout Fr. Kevin’s time away.

As you know by now, we have planned a sendoff celebration luncheon for Fr. Kevin and his family on Sunday, May 21st before he leaves on his Sabbatical on May 22nd. We hope to make this celebration memorable, not only for the Dellarias, but for our Parish family so be sure to join us.

As mentioned in Issue #1 of the Sabbatical Newsletter, the congregation began our own renewal activities on Sunday, May 1st with a guided bird-watching tour conducted by Willistown Conservation Trust along with our own Tony Fernandes; Sunday, May 7th, a photo tips workshop presented by Ed Damerau; Tuesday, May 9th, a special brown bag lunch, featured four Afghan immigrant speakers from Nationalities Service Center in Philadelphia, arranged by John Groch and John Woodcock, and on Saturday, May 13th a mini workshop conducted by Jill Quinn and Laura Petersen who instructed attendees how to design their own container pots while helping to beautify St. Francis gardens. The Sabbatical Committee wishes to thank everyone who helped to organize and set up these activities, especially the sub-committee members and brown bag lunch volunteers. Please know how much we appreciate each of you.
Sunday, May 21st: Send-off Celebration Lunch
The Sabbatical Committee would like this special send-off celebration to be memorable, not only for the Dellarias, but for our Parish family. We look forward to seeing as many parishioners in attendance as possible, as well as Acolytes (past and present) who are home for the summer. Thank you for supporting this important aspect of congregational life.
We will be announcing more congregation renewal activities in July and September; however, in the meantime, please mark your calendars for Thursday, June 29 from 5:30 pm to -7 pm) for our second guest speaker, Rabbi Jon Cutler. Jon served Beth Israel Congregation of Chester County for eight years and served as a Navy Chaplain for 32 years, including service as chaplain with Marines in Desert Storm and Iraq. He and Beth Israel are very active in the Interfaith Action Community of Northern Chester County. A light dinner will be provided.
Finding God in Our Everyday Lives

“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].

We are told to look for God in many places – in the scriptures, in our daily prayers, in our weekly worship – but God is everywhere and His presence surrounds us. Think about ways you can find Him in your life, no matter where you are going or what you are doing. Each of us will see God in a different place and the result will be glorious.

If you allowed yourself to be truly present, what would you see that might have gone unnoticed? The wind blowing through the sea grass at the beach; the intricate workings of a clock; the joy of a child figuring out a new toy; a picture drawn by a friend; the gnarled branches of an old tree still reaching up to heaven; the beautiful craftsmanship of an old house or the joy of a “pickoff” at first base to win the game. Where do you see the joy and wonder that only God can create? Everyone is welcome to participate and no experience is necessary. A picture that is meaningful to you is more valuable than a perfect picture.
The Rev. John Whitnah was introduced in April as our Sabbatical Interim Priest while Fr. Kevin is away. You can read his bio in the May Fieldnotes.

The Rev. John Whitnah: May 28, June 4, 11 & 18, July 9, 16 & 23, August 13, 20 & 28, September 4
The Rev. Ned Sherrill: July 30, August 6
The Rev. Barbara Rivers: June 25
The Rev. John Woodcock: July 2
The list below is prepared by the Sabbatical Planning Committee to share information on “Who Does What” while Fr. Kevin is away May 22 – September 10.

 Sunday Worship: Rev. John Whitnah, supported by Deacon Diane, Joe Perry, and other Worship Leaders.
 Wednesday Bible Study and Eucharist: Rev. John Whitnah
 Pastoral Care, Hospital Visitations and Funerals: Rev. John Whitnah, supported by Jill Quinn, Deacon Diane, and other Worship Leaders
 Pastoral Care Emergencies: Rev. John Whitnah, Jill Quinn, and Deacon Diane
 Support Team for Rev. John Whitnah: Jill Quinn, Deacon Diane, Vestry and Sabbatical Committee
 Vestry Meetings: Jill Quinn assisted by the Vestry
 Parish Events/Sabbatical Activities: Suzanne Steinberg and Shirley Warren
 Finance/Accounting Warden: Nancy Needhammer
 Other Contingencies: Vestry
 Building Emergencies: Dan Geoff and Bruce Hartlein
 Safety and Security: Everett and Shirley Warren
 Monitoring the office phone and checking emails while Diane is on vacation: Jill Quinn

Stay tuned for more congregation activities in July and September, which we will share in a future Newsletter. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Sabbatical Committee: Jane Brooks, 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).

February 11, 2022

Dear St. Francis Family,

It seems hard to believe, but June 30, 2022, will mark the completion of my sixth year as Rector of St. Francis. As I mentioned at the Annual Meeting in January, that upcoming anniversary means it’s time to begin preparing for a period of Sabbatical leave, which is scheduled to take place during the summer of 2023.

A Clergy Sabbatical is meant to be a time of refreshment and renewal; a time to substantially disconnect from the daily requirements of parish ministry and spend time resting and reflecting in ways that promote new energy and generate fresh ideas. It is not a vacation in the traditional sense, but a carefully-crafted time away that typically blends recreation, travel, study, and spiritual nourishment in thoughtful and life-giving ways. In addition to the plans of the Clergy, a Sabbatical is also a time for the congregation to engage in reflection and renewal, often in ways that parallel the work of the Clergy. By working together in the process of planning and conducting the Sabbatical, the time before, during, and after becomes a shared act of ministry, beneficial to all involved.

With this in mind, and in consultation with the Vestry of St. Francis, a Sabbatical Committee has been formed. The purposes of the Committee are to help guide the development of Clergy and Congregational Sabbatical plans, to communicate those plans effectively and transparently with the congregation, to prepare the congregation for the Rector’s time away, and to assist in applying for grants and other financial resources to help fund the Sabbatical for both the Clergy and Congregation.

Although we are over a year away from the beginning of the Sabbatical period, the process of planning and preparing for this period is well underway, and the work is challenging and intense. Nevertheless, to make the most out of the Sabbatical process, we need every member of St. Francis to participate. Included with this letter, you will find a set of “Frequently Asked Sabbatical Questions”. On behalf of the Sabbatical Committee, I ask that you prayerfully read through this document, and note any questions or concerns you may have. Then, if at all possible, plan on attending one of the presentations mentioned at the bottom of those pages.

Thank you, and may the peace of God be with you.

Fr. Kevin Dellaria+