Back and Refreshed

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31
Dear Servants,
Not surprisingly, “how was your sabbatical?” is the most common question asked of me these days. I am humbled and grateful for all of those who prayed for me and graciously released me for that time away. Short answer, sabbatical was what I needed: the balance of alone time, time with my family, hiking, golf, kayaking, reading, prayer, and reflection time.
Most of all, I would say it was refreshing. I find myself with more energy not just for the exciting stuff like Camp Araminta and new facilities but even for the places of tension and problems that confront any congregation. Having spent lots of time listening to God over the sabbatical, I am ready to listen to individuals within the parish with new energy and compassion.
Big thanks to all the ministry leaders, lay and ordained, who picked up additional responsibilities in my absence. We are blessed to have such an incredible group of leaders at Servants and without them, my sabbatical could not have happened. I could leave for ten weeks, knowing that the parish was in competent hands.
Since my return on July 9th, my plan has been to catch up on all the goings on of the congregation and any pastoral issues that need attention. As most of you know, I took sabbatical early to return in time for our mission outreach at Camp Araminta for children and youth, 4th-12th
grades. While officially this is a diocesan summer camp, a disproportionate number of the adult staff comes from Servants of Christ. I am so grateful to John and Kim Harris, Jamey and Beth Kirby, David and Tracy LaCagnina, Leanne Manley, and Scott Stephenson who served sacrificially at camp this summer. In addition to our adults, some of our college and high school students gave sacrificially of their time: Clara Darr, Samantha and Charleigh Farmer, Kieran Kirby, Carter and Mallory Matthews, and Grace Schuppie.
The fruit of Araminta can only partially be measured at this time. As I said during the sermon Sunday, the Kingdom work of discipling our children and youth takes years to realize fully. I can tell you that we had 180 campers this year with 14 of them making first-time professions of faith in Jesus! Praise God. Overall, Camp Araminta grew by another 20% for which we give thanks to the Lord. We rejoice in what God has done through the ministry once again this summer.
So, what should you expect for the fall? In just over a week our children and teachers return to school, and shortly after, UF and Santa Fe students and faculty will return to class. The fall is fast upon us. The vestry has two objectives for this academic year. One is to promote and encourage members in their prayer life. You will recall last fall we focused on daily Bible reading. You can look forward to teaching and testimonies that seek to relate the “how to,” as well as the “why” of prayer in our daily life. Secondly, the vestry is moving forward with plans for the purchase of permanent facilities for our life together and worship. You will hear a lot more information about this at our Special Parish Meeting, Sunday, August 20th at 5pm. Dinner and childcare will be provided by some generous individual vestry members for this meeting, so RSVP to the Facebook event or call the church office at (352) 271-1188.
I thank the Lord for renewing my strength over the summer and know that God has prepared me to lead our congregation into this new season of growth. Please continue to pray for other leaders in the parish, as well as, myself as we move into the fall. I am praying for you.
Onward and Upward,

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