May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be always with you!
Let me begin this week with a story.
On Tuesday February 6, 2018 (almost exactly 6 years ago), I was sitting in the parlour at Westfield United Church, being interviewed by the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge Selection Committee - the group that you, as a pastoral charge, had appointed to search for and find your next minister. At the time, I was part-way through my internship with Chetwynd Shared Ministry in BC, I had "passed" my Ordination Interview the previous December, and I was looking for my first call so that I could be ordained in May of that year.
The day before, I had flown from Fort St. John to Saint John (with a slight moment of panic about making my connection in Vancouver when the airplane door was frozen OPEN at 6am in Fort St. John, but that's a story for another day). Ida met me at the airport that evening, and during the day before my interview, Beth, Martha, and Ticket had taken me on a tour of the pastoral charge and the three church buildings.
It was late afternoon when we gathered for the interview. (Another side story - this was before the parlour had been painted and the walls were all dark wood paneling - I came away from the interview thinking that the people of Two Rivers were all lovely, but the space felt a bit gloomy!) Before beginning my own search process, I had experienced with the search process from the other side when I chaired a similar selection committee at my own church in Thunder Bay a decade earlier. Believe me - the Two Rivers Pastoral Charge selection committee asked much better questions than our committee ever did!
One of the questions that they asked me was, "What might a sabbatical look like for you?" This question took me aback - I wasn't even ordained yet, and here they were asking me about something that I would only be eligible for after serving 5 years with the same church! If I remember correctly, I laughed and said that this was so far in my future that I hadn't given it any thought yet! (And then said something about how, since reading and writing and travel are all things that I love, a sabbatical will probably find some way of combining these three.)
And now, 6 years into the future, that time has come.
What I didn't predict, during that interview, was that a global pandemic was going to play a significant role in shaping my first 5 years of ministry with Two Rivers Pastoral Charge. The past almost-4 years have been exhausting - especially the first 3 years of the pandemic. We, as a church, were continually trying to figure out how to do the church things in new ways that would keep everyone safe. And we always had to hold our plans loosely in case we had to pivot them with very short notice. That continual demand of creativity, flexibility, and vigilance has been exhausting.
And one impact of the pandemic is that my sabbatical that I will begin tomorrow will look different than what I thought it might look like 6 years ago. Travel is tiring even under the best of circumstances, so while I will do some smaller trips, I will be mostly based out of home. I am still a bookworm, so I have my library card at the ready! And recovering a love of writing - writing simply for the sake of writing, and not because I have to produce writing every week - is one of my sabbatical goals.
But my biggest goal for this time off is rest - to re-gain my energy and rebuild my creativity resources that will carry me through the next 5 years (which, hopefully, won't be shaped by another global pandemic).
I will continue to pray for all of you, and I ask you to please continue to pray for me, even in this time when we won't be seeing each other (unless we run into each other at the grocery store). And I anticipate a joyful return in May!
Even though I won't be around, I do still have some announcements to pass along this week:
Worship on Sunday: 9:15 at Long Reach; 11:15 at Westfield and on Facebook Live (with thanks to Session for coordinating pulpit supply for the next 3 months, and to all of the people in our congregations who are stepping forward to lead worship, alongside Licensed Lay Worship Leaders and clergy).
Ash Wednesday: Lent and Easter are early this year, so our Ash Wednesday service will be on Wednesday February 14 at 7pm at Westfield United Church.
Bible Study: Continuing every Wednesday at 10am in the Westfield parlour, even when I'm away! Everyone is always welcome.
Long Reach Congregation - Sunday February 18, 9:15 in the River Room
Westfield Congregation - Sunday February 18, 11:15 during worship
Bayswater-Summerville Congregation - Sunday February 25 following worship
Two Rivers Pastoral Charge - Wednesday February 28, 7:30pm in the parlour at Westfield United Church
Communication: This is especially for the leaders in our church, and anyone organizing events. If you want something sent out by e-mail to the congregation, send it to Elaine in the church office as she has mailing lists for the 3 congregations. And if you want anything posted on Facebook as Two Rivers Pastoral Charge, please send it to Stacey Lacey as she will be administering the page for the next couple of months.
Pastoral Emergencies: If you need to reach a minister, call Margaret Stackhouse at (number redacted). She has the schedule and will connect you with the minister who is on-call for us at that time. (Elaine will continue to include this with the bulletin, in case you lose this e-mail!)
My Writing: As I mentioned earlier, one of my goals is to recover my love of writing. If I write anything that I want to share with the world (and no promises here), I will post it on my blog - the place where I usually post my weekly sermons. If you would like to read it, you will find it at https://katesnextgreatadventure.blogspot.com/ (I will be getting off Facebook, so I won't be able to share any of my writing on that platform.)
It is hard to decide on a closing thought for this week, but since I began this e-mail with a story, let me end with another story.
Last year, on Holy Humour Sunday, you might recall that those of us who usually plan and lead worship turned the planning over to the congregation and you chose the hymns, the scripture reading, and decided what I would talk about in the sermon by submitting questions. One of the questions I was asked during the Westfield service was "What surprised you the most about being a minister?" My answer was that what surprised me the most was how much and how quickly I was going to love the people of the churches that I serve with.
I love all of you so very much; and even though I know that my body, mind, and spirit need this sabbath time away, I'm going to miss all of you.
May God bless you and keep you.
May God's face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May God look upon you with favour, and grant you peace.
And I'll see you all the second week of May!
Rev. Kate Jones
Two Rivers Pastoral Charge
(506) 757-2201 (office)
(506) 343-1307 (mobile)
"Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "You must love your neighbour as you love yourself."