holy Comforter
Church of the Holy Comforter | December 1 , 2017
Valerie Hayes
To my Parish Family,

Grace and peace to you as we enter the Season of Advent. I am writing with news -- which I consider Good News -- I wish to share. I preface this by saying that I am grateful for trusted mentors, colleagues, a spiritual director, and Bishops in which to confide and seek counsel in my vocation as priest in the church. Through these conversations and my own discernment, and with the unequivocal support of Bishop Gulick, our Interim Rector and Wardens, I have requested and received permission to take a leave of absence during the month of December.

I understand that this news may come to you as sudden and unexpected, but in truth, the need for this has been unfolding for some time. As you are well aware, these past months of interim and transition have been challenging -- as could be expected. Even so, the parish has experienced levels of conflict which were not expected and which have continued for many months. In addition, the parish has experienced significant losses and grief, and other needs that have required an intense responsiveness to pastoral care. The demands of ministry have been great.  

So, like the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, I need to attend to the oil in my lamp: it is running low. Some of you may remember a daylong retreat with Pat Parachini when we meditated upon Sarah and Elizabeth and Mary, and the necessity for fallow time in order to be fruitful. And of course, there is Elijah, who finally heard God's voice in the sheer silence.

God has made clear to me that I must spend time in silence, allow my mind and heart and soul to lie fallow, and allow God to refill my lamp with oil. I have no desire to become so tired that I become ineffective or resentful. My desire is to approach my ministry with energy and joy and excitement. I am grateful that I have the support and blessings of my bishop and rector -- both of whom I trust completely -- to take this time.

During this leave of absence, I will step away completely from my duties to the parish and from all communication: email, social media, and phone. Of course, Lyndon+ and Cara+ will be present and the entire staff and lay leaders in various capacities. The parish is in good hands.

I acknowledge that some of you will be worried and concerned for me. Please be assured that I am fine: my family and I are well and healthy. Some may speculate and wonder if there is something else going on, something wrong -- there is not. And so I ask that you first trust God in this, and that you trust me. I will be grateful for your prayers during this time. Pray also for the parish, for our clergy and staff, for the vestry, and for our new rector.

This is a beautiful and holy season of waiting and anticipating the birth of Christ. I have been given a tremendous gift: time to rest deeply in God's presence and be renewed. I desire the same gift for each of you. Know that you will be in my prayers until I return in the New Year.

With love in Christ,

Valerie +

Church of the Holy Comforter | 543 Beulah Rd, NE | Vienna, VA 22180 | communications@holycomforter.com | www.holycomforter.com