Study Leave 2023

As I write this, I am two weeks into a three-month period of study leave. I’ll be sharing this blog with my parishes, so some people may be wondering quite what this is all about. Here’s what the diocesan guidance says about it:

The purpose of Extended Study Leave (ESL) is to offer clergy office holders a sustained period away from normal duties for ministerial development, spiritual renewal and rest.

ESL Guidance from Diocese of York

So what am I going to be doing?


After the last few years of working through Covid, I know I need rest. I haven’t felt as if I’ve been working at my best for a long time. I am really hoping that these few months will give me time to recover perspective and energy. This also includes time to be a more attentive parent and spouse, especially while the kids are at home during the holidays. The kids and I have already been away to Greenbelt together (more on that anon) and we have other plans too.

I knew it was going to take time to adjust to a different pace of life. I didn’t expect it would be this long. This week has included the first glimmer of restfulness.

Spiritual renewal

After 14 years in ministry, I’m intrigued about what kind of Christian I might turn out to be when I am not being a professional Christian every day. I’ve picked out a neighbouring parish church to go to on a Sunday and I’m looking forward to that. My spiritual director has given me very good advice about adventuring further in prayer, so I’ll be doing that too. I also have a week of retreat booked further into the autumn.

Ministerial Development

This is the really exciting bit for me. I love reading and thinking, but rarely find much time to do longer term work in between all the immediate needs of writing sermons and preparing teaching. I’ve got a topic to research that I hope is going to be both interesting to me and useful to the parishes in the future.