Bishop Hougland’s Message Before Sabbatical

Hey, Western Michigan! Hope you’re doing okay.

As I record this, it is a week before Holy Week and we’re counting down to the Easter season and my taking off on sabbatical, beginning May 1st.

I’ll be gone out of the office, May 1st through about August 10th. For two of those months, Dana and I are going to be traveling to Europe; to Italy and to Spain. My parents are going to come and visit us in Spain and we’re going to travel together for a while.

The hope is to really just to connect and spend time together, just the two of us, and to see places in the world that we’ve only dreamed of seeing. I’m really looking forward to having some time to rest and relax and to put the weight of carrying the Office of Bishop down for a bit, so that when I come back in August, we can be rested and renewed for whatever God has for us in the fall.

Everything else will continue on as it has been. The Diocesan Council will continue to gather as is regularly scheduled, to do the work that it’s continuing to do. The Standing Committee will continue to gather as it will. I will retain my authority as Bishop while I’m away. If anyone needs me, they can reach me. With technology, we shouldn’t have any problems, and I don’t foresee there being any major issues while I’m away. We have the folks here that can handle things without any problem.

The diocesan staff will continue to function as they have. Bill Spaid will be the point person for them and for you, if you don’t reach staff directly. He will be managing the activities taking place within the staffing structure and at the office.

Sabbath is a time when we set aside space to be with God, and in that being with God, finding quiet space to find ourselves as well and to be renewed in that quiet and reflective place. That’s what I hope sabbath will be for me.

I’ve had one sabbath, one sabbatical, in my 21 years now as an ordained person, and it was a great renewing event in my life. I trust that this will be as well.

I couldn’t have this opportunity without your great generosity and your support. I appreciate all the gifts that you’ve given Dana and me, to be your bishop and to serve here among you. It’s a great honor and privilege.

We look forward to seeing you again in August and have a great summer. Thank you.

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