Sabbatical time

2018 is my sabbatical year and I wanted to share some thoughts of what this might mean to the parish and people. The word sabbatical comes from the Greek word sabatikos, which means “of the Sabbath,” the day of rest that happens every seventh day. There is a sense here about recreation, having time to watch, wait and wonder. Sabbatical has biblical roots, enmeshed in the narrative of God and his people. For example, in Leviticus 25, there is a commandment to desist from working the fields during the seventh year. Might this mean that a sabbatical would last for a whole year? Do not worry, I am not going away for a year, just for 3 months! I will be away on sabbatical from August until the Feast of Christ the King in November.

I was ordained in Birmingham Cathedral in 1998 to my title parish of St Alphege Solihull. 20 years later, I have asked for, and been awarded, a time to reflect on these rich years of ministry and, hopefully, re-focus my vocation towards the future. The Church of England and the Diocese of Oxford have enabled me to take 3 months out of parish ministry simply ‘to be.’ I receive this gift of time as a real privilege. What will I do? I will throw more pots, play more golf, and practice the oboe. I will give more time to my family and friends (many of which I have lost touch with in recent years).  I will also take a retreat – an 8 day Ignatian, guided retreat, at St Beuno’s in North Wales.

I am working hard in order that my sabbatical does not adversely affect the parish. I am planning with the church wardens and PCC that everything will carry on regardless of my absence. As a result, I have asked a very experienced and competent priest to hold the reins while I am away. I want to take this opportunity to introduce the Venerable David Meara to you:

David Meara was born in Oxford and began his ministry in the Oxford Diocese in 1973. After a curacy at Christ Church, Reading he spent six years as University Chaplain at Reading University, and then twelve years ministering in three Berkshire villages. He was Rector of Buckingham for six years before moving to London in 2000 to become Rector of St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street in the City of London. He was appointed Archdeacon of London in 2009 with special responsibility for the Square Mile. He retired in 2014, and moved back to live in Oxford. He is an Honorary Canon of Christ Church and Honorary Chaplain at the cathedral . He has written extensively on Church monuments and memorial brasses and. Victorian architecture, is a former President of the Monumental Brass Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

As you can see, David is much more than a very safe pair of hands and I hope that you will welcome him warmly into our community of faith.

I will be giving further updates as we draw nearer to the sabbatical period. Before that, please pray for David as he prepares to join us this summer.


Sunday services: 8am Holy Eucharist; 10am Parish Eucharist (with children’s church); 6.30pm Taizé Prayer.

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Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.