Join us in meaningful rest and discovery this Sabbatical Summer!
Beginning Sunday, April 28, our St. Francis community is embarking on an exciting and rewarding experience – Sabbatical Summer! Fr. Davies will be on a pilgrimage journey that will take him through China and Scotland, visiting religious sites and World Heritage sites. As a congregation, we will be making pilgrimages of our own, many of which will explore other faith traditions, and others that will be entirely personal.
Our Sabbatical Summer will have two parts – Fr. Davies’s experiences and those of the congregation. While our activities will be separate, we will be following similar paths of pilgrimage.
As a congregation, we will have several types of pilgrimage experiences:
organized group trips to sites significant to our own and to other faith traditions,
individual pilgrimages to places of personal significance, and
“virtual” pilgrimages where we explore important sites and events through the internet and discussion.
Each member of the congregation, including children and youth, is encouraged to take a personal pilgrimage of some kind to a place of spiritual significance in their lives. For example, the pilgrimage could be to a childhood church, to a location in nature where they particularly felt the presence of God, to the grave of a loved one, or to a hospital where they gave birth or were born. These pilgrimages can be as dramatic as driving cross-country or as simple as going to the chapel of one’s own retirement community. What matters is that in some way we search for God.
Our parish retreat at Waycross Camp and Conference Center in Brown County on September 13th — 15th will be the perfect opportunity to share our Sabbatical experiences, reconnect with Fr. Davies, and build an even stronger sense of community and purpose.
As we study what makes other places and communities valuable to pilgrims and seekers, places known for faith over generations, we hope to better understand our own gifts and how we, too, can leave a legacy of faith to those who come after us.
Pilgrimage Discussion on Frontline Documentary From Jesus to Christ
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Come to St. Francis to review the documentary From Jesus to Christ in a “virtual pilgrimage”. Please rsvp so we know to plan for refreshments.
Planning Your Pilgrimage
What is a pilgrimage?
Pilgrimage is religious “journey” undertaken in an intentional effort to get closer to God. That journey can be actual or virtual, shared or solitary.
The life of Jesus can be considered a circular pilgrimage beginning and ending in heaven. His time on Earth was only a stopping point on that pilgrimage. When Jesus was described as going “up to Jerusalem,” that meant He was making pilgrimage to that holy city – a smaller pilgrimage within the greater one that was His entire existence.
We can think of our own lives in this way, with heaven as our origin and our destination. When we think of our earthly life as a stage on our way back to our heavenly home, we can make everyday occurrences into pilgrimage experiences.
Why go on pilgrimage?
Each of us has different reasons for going on pilgrimage. Historically, many pilgrims made journeys to holy shrines seeking miraculous healing for themselves or loved ones. Today, people go on pilgrimage to seek physical, spiritual, or emotional healing, or simply to feel closer to God. Below in our Resources section you will find devotions for pilgrimages of adoration and praise; thanksgiving; oblation and service; intercession and petition; and penitence. As you consider your reason for pilgrimage, think about how that motivation connects with the destination(s) you choose and your journey.
What can pilgrimage look like?
Many famous pilgrimages involve making a long journey, including the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James), and trips to Mecca, Canterbury, and Lourdes, but pilgrimage need not always involve travel.
Pilgrimage begins with finding what the Celts called “thin places” - places where the distance between ourselves and God is small. We need to find places – real or figurative – where we can be free of distractions that keep us from hearing God’s voice.
Go on a trip. It doesn’t have to be to a religious destination, just to a place where you can be still and listen to God.
Watch a stream, or go to a contemplative place.
Walk a labyrinth, such as the one at Nativity Episcopal in Indianapolis or the one at New Harmony.
Turn ordinary experiences into pilgrimage. Fr. Chastain gave the example of going regularly to watch a certain grapevine growing, where he could think about Jesus as “the vine.”
Take time to observe the natural world and see God in it.
Find opportunities to make your mind a “total blank” and feel fully relaxed in order to hear God’s voice.
Enjoy family activities, such as reunions. Take time to appreciate the gift of companionship that God provides through families; think about the idea that “whatever you are doing, you are not alone.”
Visit a cemetery where your ancestors are buried and think about your connections with them, and how we are all connected to God.
Retrace the steps of your faith journey to this point. Revisit churches to which you’ve belonged. Go back to books or videos that have had an impact on your spiritual development and read or watch them again.
Going on Pilgrimage
As you leave, consider saying a prayer or participating in some type of ritual that will set this experience apart from ordinary travel or activities.
How will you make this pilgrimage different from ordinary travel? Will you take photos or not? Will you post on social media or not? What will you do or not do, that is different from your usual experience? How will you make time and space to hear God’s voice?
Think about what you will take with you and what you will leave behind. Will you take this handbook? Maybe you will take along a pocket-sized Book of Common Prayer, or perhaps will access it online via your phone at www.bcponline.org.
Consider taking along a symbol or meaningful object on which you can reflect about the experience in the future.
If your trip is long enough to require meal breaks or overnight stays, offer prayers at each stop. You may wish to keep a journal of your experiences along the way. Make time and space for God’s voice.
Companionship can be a meaningful part of the pilgrimage experience. Be open to new friendships and strengthen existing ones.
Mark your arrival with a prayer or ritual of your choosing.
At Your Destination
Make room for the voice of God. Spend time in quiet. Slow down. Observe. Listen. But also question, and learn, and laugh.
Departing for Home
Mark the close of your visit with a prayer or ritual.
How will you remember your time here? You may wish to write about your experiences while they are still fresh in your mind. If you don’t like to write, perhaps capture your thoughts with a voice recording on your phone. If you are taking photos, perhaps take one last image to keep the experience with you.
After Your Pilgrimage
How has your pilgrimage experience changed you? How have you felt the presence of God?
Your pilgrimage experiences may be deeply personal, or you may wish to share some parts of them. Only you can decide. Be open to others who want to share their experiences with you, even if you choose to keep yours to yourself.
Fill out the form online or email your reflections and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allow yourself to recognize and appreciate the change in others that may have occurred in your absence.
Integrate what you learned and experienced into your life in the future.
Support others as they go on pilgrimage and make their own journeys.
To share your Pilgrimage Remembrances, please use our online form
Sacred Places in Indiana - A list of locations and contact information from our Sabbatical Planning Committee
A Devotion for a Pilgrimage of Adoration and Praise - A worship guide for a journey that lifts up the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence, which draws praise from us.
A Devotion for a Pilgrimage of Thanksgiving - A devotional guide for offering to God for all the blessings of this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us closer to God.
A Devotion for a Pilgrimage of Service - A devotional guide for a service project or other pilgrimage where we offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.
A Devotion for a Pilgrimage of Intercession and Petition - Prays for a pilgriamge for the needs of others and ourselves, that God’s will may be done.
A Devotion for a Pilgrimage of Penitence - A pilgrimage path the penitent heart, seeking to restore ourselves to God’s will, wherever possible, with the intention to amend our lives.
A Letter from Fr. Davies on his Sabbatical
There is an interesting juxtaposition of preparing for a leave and taking a leave. In preparation, there are many details to chase down: What will you do? Where will you go? How much does this way of doing it cost versus that way of doing it?
But once you have all the details settled, then you can begin to breathe deeply and relax.
That breath, which in Hebrew is called Ruach, is the breath of the Spirit. Breathing in that breath of the Spirit for a few months, will fill you again with joy and wonder in all things, and the desire to pick up ones call with a renewed sense of call and dedication.
My sabbatical will be a series of pilgrimages framed by four distinct periods.
The first period will be to dramatically change the rhythm of my day. I plan to do that by changing time zones, the culture I am living in, the food and the language. I will be going to China for three weeks. While in China I will experience at least nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you do not know about these, please look them up online; they are some of the most wonder-full places on the planet. Some were created by our Creator and some have been created by humans.
The second portion of my sabbatical will be to internalize that experience by visiting the Iona Community in Scotland where my wife and I will pray and journal and settle down after the experience of visiting China. Visiting China, I might add, includes four flights and a barge trip, and that’s after flying over 6,500 miles to get there!
The third phase involves continuing to explore UNESCO World Heritage sites in Scotland, but rather than tour around packing and unpacking, we plan to rent a flat for a week or two in a couple of different places and make more casual day trips really getting to know the land and the people.
Finally, as we begin to make the transition back to the United States, we will spend a few weeks on vacation with our grandchildren and their parents. This is an annual treat, and this year we will have some great stories to tell.
You, too, will be making pilgrimages. During my pilgrimage, the congregation at St. Francis will be intentionally exploring other faith traditions in Indiana. Your individual pilgrimages will ask the question, What makes each of these sites a faith heritage site and what would it take for our congregation to become a faith heritage site. It kind of plays on the UNESCO theme I am using.
One of the places the congregation will visit is the Roofless Church in New Harmony, Indiana. There is a sculpture at that church created by Jacque Lipchitz called “The Descent of the Holy Spirit.” Mr. Lipchitz, a Jew, created three copies of the sculpture. One is in France. One is at the Roofless Church and one is at the Abbey in Iona, Scotland. Our plan is to visit the same sculpture at the same time on two continents.
I can only begin to imagine how all of this will positively impact my relationship with my congregation at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church.
In addition, the pilgrimage that the congregation will experience will offer us new ways of engaging the world and, perhaps, being open to others. Our communities and society can use as much of that as we can get these years.
FAQ about the Rector’s Sabbatical
What is a sabbatical?
The word sabbatical has its roots in the Biblical concept of Sabbath (“to rest” or “to cease”). One of the Ten Commandments is “to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy,” a reminder from God that rest is essential to our lives and work. Sabbatical leave is a time for our priest and our congregation to shift gears in order to rest, disengage, study, reflect and travel in order to return to minister among us refreshed and renewed in body, mind and spirit. (It is not a time for routine work, mid-career assessment, job search, or terminal leave).
Sabbatical is more than a vacation from meetings, budgets, sermons, and people in need. It is a time to receive spiritual nourishment and a change in perspective, to deepen relationships with God – a season of spiritual growth. This special time will also be a season of rest and growth for the entire parish.
Do other clergy go on sabbatical?
Yes, sabbatical is now standard in all Episcopal (and most other) churches roughly every five to seven years. Most congregations report that their priest returns refreshed and revitalized, and that the parish moves on to new phases of ministry.
How Long will Father Davies be gone?
Beginning on April 28th, 2019 with a Leave-taking Liturgy, Fr. Davies will return to his role as Rector on Sunday, September 8th.
What will Father Davies be doing on his sabbatical?
Fr. Davies will be traveling to China, Tibet, Scotland and other locations to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites. He will also be spending time with family. He will be engaging in prayer and deep spiritual reflection to renew him both as a disciple and as a minister.
Who will cover his responsibilities in his absence?
Fr. Steven Giovangelo will be our Sabbatical Priest will serve on the altar in Fr. Davies’ absence, celebrating almost all of the Sunday services at St. Francis In-The-Fields. In addition, Fr. Mike Galvin will be a consistent Sabbatical Pastoral Care Priest to be available to the parish for times of trouble, sickness, sorrow, or any other need. The congregation will be well tended.
Our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, is supportive of clergy renewal and will be available.
Who will cover the expenses of the sabbatical?
St. Francis In-The-Fields Episcopal Church was awarded a grant of $50,000.00 by the 2018 Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations. Administered by Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, St. Francis is one of 28 congregations in Indiana selected to participate in this competitive program.
The grant will cover all expense of Fr. Davies’ travels and will also cover all parish pilgrimage events, including the full costs of the All Parish Retreat in September.
Who do I call if I have a family or personal crisis?
If you have a pastoral emergency, please call the church at 317-873-4377 and speak with the Parish Administrator or follow the prompts after hours to leave a message. Our system will automatically reach the priest on call, Fr. Mike Galvin, and they will be in touch soon.
This is the same system that is currently in place at St. Francis and will not change during the sabbatical. It is very important to the clergy and staff of the church that we are able to be reached at any time. It is in joy and sorrow that we journey together.
Will the church be in a "holding pattern" while Father Davies is away?
No, the church will be continually engaged in learning and action centered on the theme of pilgrimage, while mindfully taking a ‘sabbath’ and resting together.
Each member of the congregation, including children and youth, will also be encouraged to take a personal pilgrimage of some kind to a place of spiritual significance in their lives. For example, the pilgrimage could be to a childhood church, to a location in nature where they particularly felt the presence of God, to the grave of a loved one, or to a hospital where they gave birth or were born. These pilgrimages can be as dramatic as driving cross-country or as simple as going to the chapel of one’s own retirement community. What matters is that in some way we search for God. We hope to serve in that way as companions to Father Davies, living as a congregation of pilgrims that reunite in fall 2019 with stories, lessons, and an energized vision of our common call to ministry.
As we study what makes other places and communities valuable to pilgrims and seekers, places known for faith over generations, we hope to better understand our own gifts and how we too can leave a legacy of faith to our descendants.
What if I have a baptism, wedding or funeral I need to plan?
The church will continue to support its members, including offering all sacraments.
Will Father Davies be in contact with St. Francis In-The-Fields while on sabbatical?
We will hear from Fr. Davies on occasion if he is able to share with us. Updates and pictures will be shared in our weekly newsletter, announcements, and on the Narthex screen if we receive them, but it is the expectation that Fr. Davies will have many new stories and experiences to share in September.
What if I bump into Father Davies around town?
Stop and say hello! But please keep in mind that Fr. Davies is on sabbatical and be respectful that he is in a time of rest apart from the parish.
We will officially welcome him back with a celebratory liturgy and Coffee Hour on August 18th, 2019 and receive him back into relationship with the church on that day. This celebration will continue towards the Parish Retreat in September, allowing him to transition back into the full role of Rector.