March 5, 2023

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the Book of Genesis we read,

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” Genesis 2:1-3

The ancient Israelites understood the gift of holy sabbath rest, not only because God modeled this pattern of being, but also because it is vital to the re-creation and health of all living things. Sabbath keeping is setting aside time that God creates and makes holy.

In the church, we recognize the necessity of keeping sabbath in the regular rhythms of our common life. Likewise, it is customary in The Episcopal Church that all clergy, including bishops, are required to take a specific period of time – a sabbatical - for rest and renewal.

Sabbatical leave is more than a vacation. It is a season when our spirits can abide with God, finding nourishment and inspiration. Sabbaticals are intended for clergy to spend time nurturing relationships with family and friends, and relationship with oneself. Sabbatical time is designed to disengage from the regular demands of work so that space is created for reflection, learning, travel, and rest in order to return to ministry among the people of God.

On October 1, 2022 I celebrated the completion of six full years serving as your bishop and began my seventh year among you. Beginning May 25 until September 12, I will be away on my sabbatical.

This sabbatical, which is my first as your bishop, will give me a chance not only to rest, but also recharge doing things that matter deeply to me so that I may come back to work in the fall revitalized for the mission that we are called to live into together. 

A simple snapshot of my sabbatical includes:

  • Traveling to London, England in June where I will work alongside the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

  • Attending to coursework with Cornell University program in conflict mediation.

  • Completing my private pilot’s license.

  •  Spending time traveling with my family.

Plans are being put into place in collaboration with the Standing Committee and the Executive Council to ensure the business and ministry of the diocese continues. During my absence, Canon Augusta Anderson will oversee the day-to-day mission and ministry of the Diocese. Any emergencies that may arise will first be managed by Canon Augusta who will, if necessary, connect with the Chancellor of the Diocese, the President of the Standing Committee and the Vice-Chair of the Executive Council. Canon Augusta is your primary contact for all matters while I am away.

In addition, Bishop visitations will continue during my sabbatical. Several retired bishops will make visitations to our congregations to celebrate and confirm. These wonderful women and men bring great love and care with them, and I am delighted that some of you will have the opportunity to be with them.

One of the things I love about living in Western North Carolina is that, despite the distance between our parishes, our region has a wonderful feel of “small town” connections. It is quite possible that we're bound to run into each other. Please don't feel like you need to avoid me, but please know that in order to maintain the intention of the sabbatical, I will not discuss anything in any way related to the Diocese. In addition, not only will I not check or respond to emails while I am away, in order to live into this season of renewal, all emails received during my sabbatical will automatically be archived unread.

I want to express my gratitude to not only the leaders of the diocese but also the entire diocesan family for making my upcoming sabbatical possible. Thank you to all of you, as always, for the blessing of being in ministry with you. I look forward to a restful summer break, and more importantly, to many years ahead as your bishop. 

I remain humbled and privileged to serve as your bishop and to journey along with you as we serve God together.


The Rt. Rev. José A. McLoughlin
The Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina
900B CentrePark Drive
Asheville, NC 28805

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