Message Raughton Head Parish Magazine Rose Castle
I’d often heard other members of clergy talk about having taken sabbaticals, and how beneficial they had found them, but I had never before managed to take advantage of one – despite several attempts. This year, however, I finally managed it, and it couldn’t have come at a better time – I had been seriously ill for most of March, and then had recovered in time to get married at the beginning of April. My sabbatical enabled me to completely recover from my illness, and also for Pauline and me to develop our married life together.
My time away from the benefice started on May 14
th, and during that time we were able to make the vicarage more ‘our home’ rather than ‘my home’. Several planned trips also took place, the first of which was to the Ffald-y-Brennin retreat centre near Fishguard in South Wales. We had read about it in a book entitled ‘The Grace Outpouring’ by Roy Godwin and were interested to experience it for ourselves. What Pauline and I discovered was one of the most peaceful places we had ever been in. It’s not easy to get to either, being in an extremely green and isolated valley where the only access is by single-track roads with passing places. From the entrance gate in the valley, the drive is long and extremely steep, eventually levelling out to reveal the 4 stone buildings that make up the centre half-way up the mountainside. The welcome they give to the occasional unexpected visitor includes a room with incredible views of the valley and beyond, complete with coffee and tea making facilities, biscuits and comfy chairs. This ‘community of blessing’ certainly was a blessing to us, and seeks to spread blessings around the world from their ministry there. We hope to be able to introduce this way of being to the benefice.
June saw me leaving Pauline and Ben at home whilst I visited our link diocese of Northern Argentina for 3 weeks. Most of that time I stayed with Hugo and Techi Vergara in Salta, but I was also able to visit Ingeniero Juarez in the Chaco area of NA where Bishop Nick and Catherine Drayson live. My visit was a surprise for David and Shelley Stokes – who I was at Trinity College Bristol with in the ‘80’s – and I preached both in their Wichi church and in the Criollo church there in Juarez. I also encountered the most unusual toilet door lock I had ever seen!!
On returning to Salta, I met up with Dany and Flavia and the team from San Andres church. They took me round their newly formed ‘Growth groups’. There are 6 of these groups for parishioners that live in different areas of the city, and their purpose is to be able to discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon and the passage surrounding it. An interesting experience! I also preached there on the Sunday. Hugo and Techi then took me on an 8-hour drive through a beautiful area of NA, over the Andes to Tucuman to stay with David Garcia – who stayed with me at the vicarage last year. His father, Roberto, is the pastor of a congregation of mainly young people. I was able to meet them, and to see David at work – teaching rugby to deprived children! Unfortunately, due to a general strike the last weekend I was there, I was unable to stay for the Sunday and returned to Salta, where I preached at Hugo’s church – San Pablo, Ceferino. All in all, it was a wonderful experience, but I was glad to resume my new family life in Carlisle!
My sabbatical finished with a wonderful 2-week holiday in Menorca with Pauline and Ben. Sometime in the near future, I plan to sort out my best photos and put a talk together about my sabbatical for the benefice.
My sincere thanks go to all who have covered for me in my absence,
and I look forward to seeing everyone again.
Steve Carter – 01228 710215