Ben's Sabbatical 2019

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Dear Friends, I will begin a two month sabbatical on July 1st. A Sabbatical is a defined period of time away from one’s normal everyday duties and the time is spent in recreation, reflection and new learning. My sabbatical will be centered on Icon writing and Franciscan Theology in various ways of reflection, such as reading and writing.

 Franciscan theology is a theological mode of operating in the world with the belief that the incarnation was in the in-breaking of God into our human existence because he created us and loves us and that Jesus the messiah died for us because he loves us, not the Belief that God was forced to react to Adam’s sin. This atonement way of thinking restricts God’s freedom and dignity, that our behavior controls God. Through the incarnation the gulf that separates us from God has been bridged through original blessing, not original sin. This is what I want to examine further.

 After seven years of ministry together, I believe it is time to renew the relationship and commitment to the church and its priest. When I think about my summer sabbatical, it is clear to me that it has to be integral to me and to the parish for becoming a place of refreshment in renewal for those already here and for those who will be with us on their journey.

 Questions to explore:

 •How can we become even more immersed in Franciscan Theology at St, Francis?

•How has the incarnation entered into our lives and made a difference?

•How can we make St. Francis a home for Franciscan Theology, a place for the incarnation to break through in people’s lives?

 If you wish to help with my sabbatical this year donations to the Rector’s Travel and Continuing Education restricted accounts will be greatly appreciated. My lodging has been graciously given me by a San Francisco Theology professor (a friend) and her wife who live on campus in San Anselmo. With lodging taken care of, the cost should be no more than $7000.00 for these two months. We do have about $4000 available in the funds now. Thank you very much for this opportunity. Peace. Ben.

Rector's Easter Message

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Happy Easter Franciscans!

It was a wonderful Holy Week and I hope you were fed and nourished as much as I was through the love shown by our St. Francis Community.  I want to thank all those (and there were a lot) who gave their time and talent and treasure toward making all of it a joyous occasion. It was good seeing a lot of faces that I had not seen for so long at our Easter services, and also seeing new faces. I hope that they will all come back more often. Of course without any of this, without any of our actions, a joyous occasion would have occurred on Easter morning as it does every morning with the sunlight falling upon an empty tomb and creation praising God. This reminds me of a passage from Thomas Merton:

Sunrise is an event that calls forth solemn music in the very depth of human nature, as if one’s whole being had to attune itself to the cosmos and praise God for the new day, praise God in the name of all the creatures that ever were or ever will be. I look at the rising sun and feel that now upon me falls the responsibility of seeing what all my ancestors have seen, in the Stone Age and even before it, praising God before me….When the sun rises each one us of is summoned by the living and the dead to praise God.”

Again I say thank you to all who participated in any way in our Holy Week and Easter services.

So there is one news item that I need to share with you. I am going on Sabbatical this summer (July and August). I have been offered a house in which to stay on the campus of San Francisco Theological Seminary. I have reached out to an instructor at St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco to assist me in getting back into icon writing which is a wonderful way to pray and meditate. I hope to take a class at one of the seminaries in the area.

I did consider cancelling my sabbatical due to Fr. Joseph’s necessary move to Augusta but I do not know that I will ever get this offer again and since money is always an object, this will be the time to go. I did cut my time short by one month. I have applied for a grant to possibly cover a month next year (with the vestry’s approval) but getting the grant is a long shot.

Before I leave in July I will visit my mom, travel to Cleveland, Ohio to marry Jess Tanner and her soon to be wife Maddy (perform the marriage ceremony might be a better way of putting it), and be Dean of the Diocesan Outdoor Youth Camp in early June. I will be happy to talk about this with anyone wanting to know more. Of course my really big concern with being gone for two months is: how will Arthur take care of himself while I’m gone? Peace to you all.

Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!

Christ is Risen! He has Risen indeed!

 

Ben+

 

2017 Annual Report

Greetings Franciscans,

This January began my 6th year as rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church. Including my associate time, I have been with you for about 7 ½ years. When I am asked to describe what this parish is like by colleagues and those seeking a place to become part of, I say you are wonderful, gentle, and forgiving people who will let me go off on tangents and down rabbit holes and then gently bring me back.

This year as you will be able to tell from the theme of our annual meeting, I would like us to focus on the diocesan mission statement, “We challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately, and grow spiritually.” So as the rector of this church, I must ask myself and gather from you, how do we think we are we doing?

First, Let’s talk about where we are now against where we were last year. The young adult group has more than doubled in numbers, with three of its members now serving on the vestry and three as chairs of ministries. There are 12 youth consistently coming to church with three more to be added this summer. We were a beta testing site for The Beloved Community using the newly developed Dismantling Racism curriculum for youth by the diocese and the kids loved it.

We are still very much involved in Weekend Lunch, highly respected by Sr. Theresa at Daybreak because of our member’s work there and we still support Loaves and Fishes, Daybreak , Macon Volunteer Clinic, Haitian Hope Inc., and Path to Shine. We also supported ERD (Episcopal Relief and Development) this year in responding to the hurricane relief drive.

As far as worship, the 6 pm Sunday service has doubled, still small, but is growing. Morning Prayer is growing in numbers. The main services and the early Sunday service are holding their own and we still have visitors every Sunday. The evangelism committee will guide us in being even more welcoming.

We began the year with a $38K deficit and through your generosity, we ended the year with a small surplus. We have a new roof on every building on this campus. The vestry has not retreated from wanting to build a new building, after the diocese said we couldn’t borrow, but was instead bolstered to want to have a new dialogue with the diocese on borrowing because we ARE going to build!

Ecumenically we have celebrated Advent with St. Peter Claver and shared youth group time with the Presbyterians. We have strengthened our bonds in our interfaith community as well by hosting the Iman of the local mosque and hosting “The Footsteps of Abraham”, an interfaith clergy group who meet to celebrate what we have in common and to understand our differences. We have hosted the Women's Interfaith Alliance of Central Georgia as well. I see nothing on the horizon that won’t allow us to do even more in Worshiping joyfully, Serving compassionately, and Growing spiritually in 2018. God has been good and Faithful to God’s people who share in the community of St. Francis in Macon.

Peace, Ben+