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 A sabbatical update (March 2, 2023)

Hello Northwood friends! I wanted to write a brief update amidst my sabbatical time. I continue to deeply appreciate this gift of renewal and personal growth that I have been blessed with. I am delighted to see that our church continues to be led well in my absence and I am thankful to everyone who continues to step up and offer their gifts in ministry. It is a reminder of what a deeply gifted church we truly have. Thanks be to God, the giver of all gifts! Thanks be to God, to those who continue to offer their spirit-given gifts in ministry! I am now coming to the end of the first half of my sabbatical time. Since January, I have stayed locally and enjoyed directed reading in the areas of theology, leadership and personal growth. A few favourites have included “The Leader’s Journey” by Jim Heatherington, “Living Like You Mean It” by Ron Frederick, “When the Body Says No” by Gabor Mate, and “Falling Upward” by Richard Rohr. For a change, I have shifted my devotional reading of scripture away from the scholarly New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) to Eugene Peterson’s playful version called “The Message”. I have been attending worship at a nearby church and have been experiencing the wonderful gift of grace in receiving worship. And lastly, as I prepare for the second half of my sabbatical, I have been training my body to walk the 800 km Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

As I look ahead to the second half of my sabbatical, I am excited for this next phase. On Sunday (March 5th) I will fly to France to commence the 800 km pilgrimage which starts in the small French town of St. Jean Pied de Port and concludes in Santiago de Compostela, Spain The Camino de Santiago or ‘Way of St. James’ is a network of pilgrimages all leading to the tomb of the Apostle St. James. Of the many different routes that can be walked, I have chosen the ‘French Camino’ which is among the most travelled (and recommended for a first timer like me). Interestingly, pilgrims have made this pilgrimage since the 9th Century as it provides an opportunity to deepen one’s faith journey, to enjoy the beauty of the land, and to share in the lives of fellow pilgrims along ‘the way’. I am excited for what I will learn and how I will grow through this spiritual experience!

I will endeavour to update my Facebook page through my journey. If you would like to receive my travel posts, you are most welcome to connect with me (as many other Northwood folks already have) on Facebook at “Scott Turner Turnbrook”. (And I’m sure our wonderful Facebook administrator, Donna, will update our Northwood FB page as she can. The pilgrimage is designed as a ‘go at your own pace’ experience. I am hopeful to conclude the pilgrimage by Easter and visit a few other wonderful European cities prior to flying home in mid-April. This will give me a few weeks to ‘settle in’ and ponder the experience prior to returning back to full time ministry with you on May 1st.

In this season of Lent, we are all ‘walking’ our own form of spiritual pilgrimage. May we all be comforted and confronted by the Risen Christ who walks with us on the roads we travel and leads us further into the heart of God’s grace. 

Post from December 28, 2022

Every 5 years, the United Church mandates a sabbatical for its ministry personnel. While this is required, I want to say how deeply honoured I am to have this gift of sabbath time to renew my life and look ahead into the next chapter in ministry. It is hard to believe that I commenced my student ministry back in 1995, entered ordained ministry in 2000, and now look ahead to the final stretch of ordered service which will lead me towards retirement. (though I have lots of ministry dreams for retirement too) 

During this 4 month sabbatical, I seek an opportunity to renew and refine the leadership I bring in my various aspects of ministry. From January – Mid-March I plan to spend my week in three areas: I have begun lining up lunch / dinner meetings with learned clergy to reflect on their pastoral identity, the shifts they made through their career, the joys and challenges they navigated, how they maintained healthy/ resilient ways of being. And, what their dreams for the future of the church are.  I will also be working with two professionals to guide my time through various theological resources and personal reflections. The second portion of my sabbitacal will occur from Mid-March - April. I will travel to France and begain a pilgrimmage leading to Spain via the Camino de Santiago. I will return to full church responsibilites on May 1st. 

So what will happen at Northwood during these 4 months? I am pleased to see the level of leadership that we have coordinated during this time. We will be blesed by ALL the many people who step up and offer their gifts of leadership and grace through these months ahead. I hope YOU will take an opportunity to empower the church to grow and thrive during my absence.

Here is a briefing on the coverage the Board and I have coordinated: 

Pastoral Care will be covered by the team consisting of: Barbara W, Terry H, and Marilyn B. This group is supported by the Rev. Randy A. 

Board Meetings will continue monthly (additional meetings as needed). They will be supported by the neighbouring minister from Amazing Grace United Church, the Rev. Jonah Linh.

Office Administration will continue to run by Gaby and supported by Pam M (an active member at NUC). The office hours will continue to be Tuesday - Friday from 9 am - noon.

Worship will continue to be a core part of our community identity.

Sunday mornings will be running on a rotational leadership welcoming three of our regular visiting ministers: Rev. Anna Christie, Rev. Gabrielle Suedfeld, and  Rev. Dr. Dorothy Jeffery. Once per month we have the special treat of a lay-led service by an individual or group from the church.  

Jazz Vespers will continue on its planned schedule, and will be run our VST Student, Ben MacRae. Ben will be supervised in this 2nd half of his project by Rev. Dr. Ross Johnson (a regular participant at Jazz Vespers) 

Our many other groups and ministries will continue as scheduled with the empowered leadership that has evolved. We are blessed to have such a commited group of members and friends of Northwood. May we continue to grow and thrive always!