Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I am on sabbatical and will post here again in September 2018.

- John.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Take One

I have a friend who says, “if someone offers you a breath mint – take it!” For if it’s offered, it’s necessary and of benefit to everyone concerned. The same is true of sabbaticals… it just took me a while to get the message. A sabbatical is of benefit to everyone involved.

I have made a commitment to learn to play the guitar and that I will do, or at least try. To satisfy the rules of the CRA I need to prove that this kind of study is of benefit to my employer. There’s a wonderful Marx Brothers skit where Chico is negotiating to have the Marx Brother perform at a show. The schedule of payment, based on the number of performances and rehearsals, was complicated. The joke was that the fewer number of each caused the price to go up. When the manage asked, “well, what if you don’t play at all?” Chico said, “Oh, you can’t afford that!”

Perhaps that will be the next big fundraiser for us – how much will you pay for me NOT to play? And I can’t even imagine the money we could raise for me not to sing!

Onto more serious matters. I am happy that the Rev’d John Ferguson agreed to be the priest-in-charge while I’m away. He has tremendous experience as a priest and I am sure that you will enjoy his time amongst us. And he will not be on his own, Jay and Ted and Cathy and Bonnie have all said that they are willing to help in any way they can. And Carolyn Jenkins will be holding it all together in the office. The Wardens and the Parish Council are fully behind my sabbatical leave and I am sure each one is willing to help.

The next three months will be outside my comfort zone and I believe a growing edge for me. I think it benefits me and everyone involved. I thank you all for this opportunity.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

We Were Welcomed

Those were the words of one of the visitors to our worship last week, “we were welcomed.” It was said with such conviction that I am sure he meant more than, people were nice to us. I am sure that he meant that, in the name of Christ, he felt a holy welcome, like a brother returning home.

It makes me feel wonderful to be with so many fine people, to be with people who are trying to do as Christ commanded, to love one another.

There are two things to consider. First, some studies suggest that people will decide whether they will return to a Church community within 10 seconds of entering the worship space. No, that’s not a typo (10 seconds). That’s long before we can ever say or do something really stupid or offensive. That’s long before the sermon.

What can you detect within 10 seconds of entering a building? Our nose picks up smells. We know right away if a place is clean. Not everyone likes coffee but generally the smell of coffee would be considered a welcoming sign. Our eyes can see people. We can see right away if people are happy and if they will make eye contact. Eye contact is welcoming. Our ears hear sounds. We know right away if the sounds we hear are welcoming. Conversation and laughter sound more welcoming than silence.

Secondly, people tend to make judgments, like if they will return to a worshipping community, based on assumptions they already have. If someone grew up in a small rural congregation their assumptions about what to expect from a church community could be vastly different from what we are. We simply can’t control people’s assumptions.

What we can control is our behavior and we can be is authentic. We can be welcoming in the ways we know how. We might not be everyone’s cup-of-tea and that’s okay. What makes me happiest is that we are motivated by the love of Christ.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


The question I get asked most often these days is, “What is a sabbatical anyway?” Most people know that a sabbatical is a period of paid leave. Traditionally, like for university professors, it is for one year, every seven years. Mine will be for only three months and I’m not proud to say that it is my first. But that’s not really the question people are asking. They want to know, “what will be different?’

Well, I will be away from mid-May to mid-August in 2018. The Parish Council and the bishop have given their permission. The funding for the course of study comes from the Continuing Education funds of our Pension Contributions. I could have taken all sorts of courses and studied lots of subjects that would have added nothing useful to my ministry or my sermons. Instead, I will try and learn how to play the guitar. It too may prove to be useless or futile, but I remain hopeful. I may never haul out the guitar in public or you may come to dread seeing me pick it up during a sermon.

So, to the point of what will be different, my hope is that you’ll will hardly know I’m gone. As one person put it, “the parish got along just fine for 235 years before you, we can do 3 months easily.”

I am confident that the Rev. John Ferguson and the Rev. Jay Macdonald will care for you and for the Sunday morning worship with the greatest of skill and love. I am not travelling far, so I might show up to worship once and a while. John and Jay will be the point people for funerals, but if I’m in town I can’t imagine myself just staying home… I would want to be there and help in the care of those who mourn.