In anticipation of this summer, I am grateful to the Personnel Committee, Deacons, and congregation for the opportunity to have a Sabbath Study Leave. It had been scheduled for last summer, but the onset of the pandemic and its effect on the life of the church necessitated postponing it. I am thankful for this opportunity and the value that Auburn First Baptist places on study and renewal.
The dates of my Sabbath Study Leave will be May 24-July 26, 2021. Our family will be driving across the country, visiting several National Parks and National Forests. My study will focus on a theology of creation and the changing religious landscape around the church. I will reflect on the presence of God at work throughout the world!
We find connections to a theology of creation in our community with the work of Auburn University and the Alabama Extension service, speaking to our context in important ways. There is also an interest in discovering the divine in nature, for those who do not participate in the rhythms of a church. Studying a theology of creation can cultivate meaningful connections for ministry to our community.
I will also read about and reflect on the changing religious landscape around the church. There has been a rise in the “Nones,” or those who do not have a religious affiliation. The changing religious landscape is more pronounced outside of the South, but we find it in our context as well. I will spend time in conversation with religious and civic leaders, as they talk about the life of the church outside of the South, which can provide insights into serving our community as well.
We will spend time in Colorado and Wyoming as we drive to Bozeman, Montana, where we will spend most of the summer. I will work with Dr. Bruce Gourley, who has a Ph.D. from Auburn and is a church historian. He will help me cultivate conversations with religious and civic leaders.
I have a list of books to read along with reading portions of scripture related to a theology of creation. I will also focus on the gospels and the book of Acts, as I reflect on the life of the church and its ministry to others.
I am deeply grateful for this opportunity! In the upcoming weeks, I will make preparations for this time away. I hope this time of study and renewal benefits my ministry with you and our shared journey together!