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I have had a rather joyous return from sabbatical. It is great to see people, it's been lovely to take services and I've returned to very few crises! In the last 15 days I have taken 2 Weddings, chaired 3 APCMs, led 5 Sunday services and arranged about a thousand weddings and baptisms. We had a great benefice lunch in Wreay Village Hall and I gave a slide show presentation on what I have been doing with the three months study leave I have been given.
The first 4 weeks of my sabbatical were spent living as a virtual hermit in a derelict hotel in Cyprus. I had wonderful views of the Mediterranean but a lot of construction work going on around me from 7.00 am. - 7.00 pm. each day. I had weekly Greek lessons and attended both a Greek Orthodox church and the English speaking Anglican church in Paphos. Being so alone was quite an experience in itself as it is the most time Jo and I have ever spent apart and the longest I've been away from our children. The first thing I learnt was to value them more, but it also gave great scope for in depth reading, thought and prayer. I focussed my studies on Evangelism in the Early Church and the Politics of Jesus. I've made lots of notes for books which will probably never see the light of day but it was an excellent opportunity to think deeply and broaden my knowledge.
Jo and the children joined me in Cyprus for Easter when we went to the places that the Apostle Paul had been in and swam in the sea a lot! After they left I began some self guided touring. I went to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, staying in a convent in Jerusalem Old City and with an Arabic Christian family Bethlehem. I visited many key biblical sites but the atmosphere and the culture was what made the deepest impression.
We hear about Israel and Palestine on the news and I have read so many times of what happened there in Bible times but it was quite eye-opening to see what it is really like and experience the sights, sounds and smells of the place.
I next travelled to Rome and toured Vatican City and St Peters Basilica, quite a stunning place. I went to the Colosseum, the Parthenon and saw where Julius Caesar was assassinated. It is true what they say, that travel broadens the mind. I have seen places and met people and experienced lots of different ways of living. I've met with church leaders of many different denomination, and quite a few nuns. I have chatted with people who have lived through oppression and civil war and who are still at risk. I have seen some of the most glorious buildings but also people living in near poverty. I have tried my hand at a few different languages and found that putting an Italian accent on to Portuguese words doesn't help at all!
It is wonderful to have had this opportunity to read and pray and think, to travel and explore. And it is wonderful to come home and truly appreciate the beauty of Cumbria and the love of my family and church. Thank you to everyone who has helped to keep things running during my sabbatical, and thank you to everyone who have given me such a warm welcome home. Onwards and Upwards. Every blessing
Ben Phillips - 079360 99123
New Volunteers Wanted
All Saints Church is very much loved in our community and very much used.
Not everybody realises that our church is entirely funded by local gifts and run by volunteers. For us to continue to offer the service we do we need some new volunteers. Over the coming year, we are particularly looking for a new warden and treasurer.
Please contact our vicar or current
Ben Phillips - 070360 99123