This document aims to provide a short summary of useful information to the Church of the Ascension congregation while Reverend Anne is out on sabbatical this year. It includes information on how services will be covered, guidance on what to do should certain situations arise, and supplementary background information on what a clergy sabbatical is, and why they are usually taken.
1.    Timing
Anne will be away from 14th May – 16th August, 2024.
2.    Main points of contact
To help ensure it is a restorative break, we ask that you please do not contact Anne while she is away. Anne will not be reading her email and there will be an autoreply to this effect, offering Robin’s email as a second point of contact. Of course, if you see her on the street, it is fine to say hello!
The first point of contact will usually be the Church Warden, Robin Hamaker-Taylor, unless otherwise stated in this document. You can email Robin here
3.    Services 

o   Anne has developed a rota of covers for our 10:30 AM services, for the first few months, as well as a list of contacts for covers.
o   Robin and others will be organising the remaining few services.
o   8:00 AM services will be paused whilst Anne is away.
o   We will be in ordinary time with the exception of Pentecost (19 May) and Trinity Sunday (26 May).

Reading and prayers rotas
Georgina Bolt will maintain the reading and prayers / chalice rotas as normal.

Readings and pewsheets
o   There will not be any pewsheets whilst Anne is away.
o   For readings, we will use the lectionary and a bible. We are in lectionary year ‘B’. The lectionary can be located on the Church of England website:
o   The visiting priest may choose different readings. In this case, the new reading will be communicated to Robin and Georgina and we will ensure the reader knows.

Hymns and choirs
Nicholas Mannoukas will select hymns. He and the choir members will determine any choral services for the duration of the sabbatical.

4.    Soup Sunday
We will keep Soup Sunday going during the sabbatical, subject to volunteer availability. This is usually the 3rd Sunday of the month.
5.    Ark playgroup
The Ark playgroup (Wednesdays 10 AM) will not run whilst Anne is away, and will resume in September.
6.    PCC meetings
There will be a PCC meeting on 7th May, just before Anne goes. We will not likely hold a PCC meeting while she is away, though this is subject to change. We will maintain a PCC standing committee to decide on urgent matters, and emergencies may be escalated to the diocese if needed.
7.    Newsletters
We will attempt to provide a monthly newsletter, as usual.
8.    Baptisms weddings and funerals
Anne has briefed Robin on how to handle these requests. In summary:

o   We will aim to delay holding any weddings or baptisms until Anne is back in August. She has made herself available for the weekends on her return, should we get any bookings in.
o   We will read Banns of marriage as required, and can accommodate further requests for Banns to be read.

o   Father Grant is happy to do baptisms in our services when he is covering, and other priests can assist here as required, though if families are able to wait until Anne's return that is preferable.

o   Please contact Robin in the event of a funeral request.
9.    Church and hall hire
We will continue to take church hires while Anne is away. The first point of contact for church hire (e.g. for concerts) will be Eileen Newnham. The first point of contact for hall hire is Wendy Harwood.  The usual protocols for facility hire, e.g. around fire safety and safeguarding requirements, remain in place.
10. Fabric
Should damage or fault happen with any of the church buildings (‘fabric’), please contact Jono Prosser, as usual.
11. Bear Church
The Bear church will continue to use the church throughout the period of Anne’s sabbatical and beyond.
12. Safeguarding
Should a safeguarding event / issue arise, the usual steps should be taken, including:
·      Notify Georgina. Contact details are on the church noticeboard.
·      If it is an emergency, or Georgina is away, contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA) at Trinity House and/or Social Services and the police if necessary. Contact details are below:
·      Safeguarding referrals / general enquiries: / Telephone: 0207 939 9441 (Mon to Fri 9am – 5pm)
·      Safeguarding training enquiries: / Telephone: 0207 939 9476
·      Admin and DBS enquiries: / 020 7939 9478
·      For urgent out of hours advice: (Mon to Fri, after 5pm / weekends and bank holidays) please contact 020 3874 6743.
·      Emergencies: If you suspect you or someone is at risk of immediate harm, phone 999.
·      If you are worried that a child, young person, or adult is at risk of being harmed, abused or neglected, contact Lewisham Social Services

Church of the Ascension safeguarding landing page:
13. Background information on clergy sabbaticals
A sabbatical is a period of study leave, away from the normal responsibilities of parish ministry. This can be beneficial for continued ministerial development and wellbeing.

What is a sabbatical?
·      The idea of Sabbath rest is a familiar biblical principle: Genesis tells us that God rested on the seventh day of creation and the Jews observed a day of rest, a Sabbath, each week. Sabbatical leave follows that principle of offering a time of rest, refreshment and renewal, every seven years. Sabbatical leave is a period of time away from ministry which may last six weeks (in the case of someone who has been ordained for seven years) or three months (in the case of someone ordained for fourteen years or longer).
·      Sabbatical leave is not holiday and your vicar will be entitled to take their normal holiday in addition to sabbatical leave. They may choose to add it on and so to be away for up to four months, or simply to take their annual holiday as normal.
What is the value of sabbatical leave to the parish?
·      Sabbatical leave will give your vicar time to study, to think, and to pray. In planning their sabbatical, he or she will have been asked to think about the impact of the sabbatical leave on their future ministry; this might mean focussing on study that will impact on preaching, or visiting other churches with lively youth ministry, or spending time with a mission project overseas. Very occasionally, clergy take sabbatical leave in order to complete a piece of academic study such as a PhD thesis.
Who gives permission for sabbaticals and who should be consulted?
·      Sabbatical leave is a privilege not a right, and the Area Bishop gives permission to clergy to take sabbatical leave. Your vicar will usually have consulted the Area Dean and Church Wardens about the timing of the sabbatical.
·      Anne was given kind permission for the sabbatical by the Rt. Revd. Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, and the Ven. Alastair Cutting, Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich.
Who pays for a sabbatical?
·      The vicar will receive their stipend as usual while on sabbatical leave, but will not be claiming any expenses from the parish. A grant towards the sabbatical is available from the diocese, but the PCC may also consider giving a grant to the vicar to assist towards travel or training costs.
·      Church of the Ascension have given Anne a small grant for her sabbatical. This and other grant funding will be used to assist with travel and accommodation costs and for books and study materials during the sabbatical.
Anne’s plans
Anne will be making a trip to Assisi and Rome. She will travel by train to avoid undue carbon emissions, Anne will be away at other places of retreat for part of the sabbatical, including visits to Cornwall and Orkney, where she will be kindly given accommodation by friends, and she will also spend some time at home.
More information is available from the Diocese of Southwark’s dedicated sabbatical web-page, available from: