Dear Christ Church Family,

Possibly one of the least understood yet indispensable elements of Christian living is the Sabbath. From the beginning, God set a divine rhythm of work and rest. He created the world and rested on the seventh day.  In Leviticus, God instructed the Israelites to give their land a year of Sabbath rest every seventh year. The Psalms declare much of the goodness of the Lord in His provision of rest and renewal to our souls. Jesus set the example for us as He habitually retreated to quiet places to rest and be with His Father. Out of His wisdom and grace, God has provided a life-giving pattern of rest for the sustainability of His people.

This spring Fr. Cliff Warner completes his sixteenth year of service as Rector of Christ Church. To enter into this God-given rhythm of rest, he will take a sabbatical beginning March 11th of this year, returning in October. As a Vestry, it is with deep joy that we prepare for and support Cliff in this season of renewal. We are thankful for the health and vibrancy of Christ Church’s life and ministry that allows Cliff the timing of this sabbatical to be one not driven by crisis, but a desire to maintain an intentional Sabbath way of living.

We are confident that Cliff’s sabbatical will not strain the vitality or strength of Christ Church. Instead, we look forward to a season of the Lord strengthening our unity as we continue to experience the joy of ongoing life in the Body. This is our prayerful expectation as we trust Jesus, the head of His church, remembering the ways He was faithful during the season of Cliff’s sabbatical in 2014. We are grateful for the capable staff and clergy of Christ Church who will continue to wisely lead and faithfully serve our congregation.

Christ Church has a standing policy, in keeping with both biblical Sabbath rhythms and the recommendation of our bishop and diocese, granting the Rector a sabbatical every seventh year. We had planned, prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2020, for Cliff to go on sabbatical in 2021, but it was postponed in order for Cliff to lead us through the challenges of the past two years. For Cliff, these six months of Sabbath rest will include personal study, reflection and reading, prayer, time with his family, and a flourishing of vocational vision that will further equip and strengthen him for ministry. We prayerfully anticipate the following for Cliff: a deepening of his love and adoration for Jesus Christ, the affirmation of his calling, and a renewal of focus and vision when he returns to pastoral leadership.

We pray that just as this sabbatical will be a season of renewal for Cliff and his family, it would also be that for the Christ Church community as a whole. While Cliff will be greatly missed and we will enthusiastically await his return, we anticipate the Lord’s blessings upon our church family. It will be a season of anticipating what the Lord will do in and through Cliff, his family and our congregation, a season of unification as we work together and support each other in Cliff’s absence, and a season of joyful dependence on Jesus Christ to lead us in it.

This coming Friday in CliffNotes, Cliff will personally share some thoughts about his sabbatical. In the meantime, our prayer for Christ Church is that our Lord would grant us the fullness of His grace to continue in gospel ministry and our mission to make disciples, with a heart for the city, for the praise of His glory.

Your Partners in Christ,

John Nehme, Senior Warden

Emily Padula

Kim Polk

Kevin Lloyd

Nate Bruce

Sara Schultz

Leslie Cameron

Paul Adeleke