Church of England Diocese of Bath & Wells Swell

The Rector's sabbatical

5 Aug 2021, 2:45 p.m.

Scott’s Spot – August/September 2021


If it wasn’t for the ‘to do’ list on my desk, I would be almost ‘Demob happy’. As I write I am shortly to begin a sabbatical for the months of August, September and October, something that’s been in the planning for well over three years. Like so much of recent life, Covid meant that the original plans for last year were cancelled, but with the situation now gradually easing it felt appropriate to have another try.

Why take a Sabbatical? Well because at one time Clergy used to work at a pace that allowed time for reflection and study as part of their normal ministry. Increased demands and heavier workloads have made this difficult to do. To take a block of leave therefore allows a minister time to read, reflect, plan and rest in a way that brings re-creation and enrichment to their ministry.

What is a sabbatical? Well it’s not a holiday, although it should include a period of holiday or relaxation, nor is a sabbatical ‘study leave’ in the strict sense because it should have a dimension of recreation, rather than simply swapping one frenetic lifestyle for another. Nor does it necessarily have to be related to your current work: it offers the chance to more fully explore interests for which time is usually unavailable, and it does not have to be justified by being a proven benefit to what you are doing now or in the future. But the re-creation and enrichment of the time should ultimately benefit the people I work with, and for, when I return to parish life.

What are my plans? Unfortunately the family trip to Zimbabwe to contribute to care and conservation at an elephant and rhino sanctuary has not been possible (red lists and all that), and we’ve postponed until next year. Plenty else however is planned. Alongside a (less adventurous) family holiday to the Lake District, I shall be trying to develop a potentially commercial Christmas project that involves both woodwork and theology (ask me about it sometime!); I hope to spend time on retreat in prayer, reading and reflection; released from weekend responsibilities I hope to do some UK travelling to re-establish friendships from my musician, RAF, Theological College and Curacy days; and as a Dad and husband whose time (and head-space) is often limited by the pressures of the role and the cares and concerns of others, I’m looking forward to simply being around and available more than usual, and to enable Rowan time and space for similar refreshment herself. Beyond all this I’m hoping some tennis lessons and extra practice will help improve my backhand and the consistency of my serve! Anyone up for a game?

Time out for the above is a tremendous gift and I am grateful to the Bath and Wells Diocese for the opportunity. I am also enormously grateful to Revd. Stafford Low who will be the ‘go to man’ in my absence, and also to the faithful and brave individuals who have offered themselves in leadership to maintain a full pattern of Sunday and mid-week worship across our Benefice until I return in November.

With prayer for an enjoyable, safe and healthy summer,

Revd. Scott.