Sabbatical Season


TimeLine for St. John’s Discernment Team


From March 20 to Advent 2022:

Working with Angie and Rick to define our work.

Key topics about the parish include Discernment, Vitality, and Sustainability.

March 20 – Introduction to the Sabbatical Year Process

July 10 – Sending and Blessing Sunday

July 11 – Fr. Rick begins his Sabbatical and we begin our own discernment of the parish-based on our process

November 13 – Fr. Rick returns from his Sabbatical

Advent 2022 – Season of Listening and Preparing for the results the parish has developed


Discernment, What does it mean for
St John’s in the Mountains


Introduction to the Sabbatical Year Process
March 2022

1)  Discernment

The process in which we will be engaged is discernment.

Discernment is done in community, with gathering of information and discussions. Discernment is done with openness to the outcome. This can be hard, especially if you are wedded to the past or the present and not future-oriented. Discernment is done with openness to the Spirit. It’s about discerning God’s will for us, not what we want. This process puts us in a liminal space, where much is unknown, and the possibilities are limitless.

2)    Sustainability

The continuum of the discernment time is sustainability. Sustainability is an ongoing process. We know about this really in asking “What is God calling us to do?” and “In what ways do we seek and try to discover God’s call?” What sustains us?

As we explore these questions, we look at the growth and changes of the number of St. John’s members, members involvement and participation, parish needs, the number of pledges, pledge amounts, the increased use of St. John’s endowment, and the use of the building, to mention a few.

Institutional wisdom and your participation will greatly contribute to our purposeful conversations as we talk about these details about sustainability throughout the discernment time.

Sustainability embraces opportunities and encourages everyone to participate. We need one another in moving forward. Participation is giving to our endowment. We all have gifts, strengths, and assets to offer. The depth and breadth of participation are part of sustainability. Love for St. John’s, ourselves, other parishioners, visitors, Stowe and our surrounding communities, the building, to the VT Episcopal Diocese are all part of sustainability. Exploration of who are we, who is our neighbor, what are the gifts, and what are the needs are all part of sustainability.

We ask you to be prayerful about your valuable contribution to St. John’s sustainability.

3) Vitality

The dictionary defines “vitality” as the state of being strong and active, with energy and liveliness,” and adds the term “the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things”

So what’s that for us?

We’ll be discussing the views about the connection parishioners have with our parish. In particular, we’ll discuss how we, as members, are related to the parish in at least the following areas:      

• Love for our community
• What ministries at St. John’s call you, and what ministries might be missing for you?
• What’s the role of worship for you?
• What gifts or personal assets do you have that you give to the church, or would like to share with the church?
• What ministries apply to your family?


Creating Sacred Space
January 2022


My dear friends,


Creating sacred space has been a central theme in the life of St. John’s in the Mountains. Between 2006-2007, our current church building was built. Since my arrival as your priest in 2010 we have built on that foundation to ensure sacred space is named, created, and nurtured in God’s love. In 2022, we will embark on a new journey of creating sacred space.


Next year, I will be taking a sabbatical from my duties at St. John’s in the Mountains from early July to early November to name, create, and nurture sacred space in my life. These four months will offer me time to be with my spouse and continue to nurture the sacred presence of God within the walls of the Swanson Inn. We have been stewards of the inn for over three years and this sabbatical season will be a holy time for us as a family, with our dogs and our guests.


Second, I will spend part my time building a camp in Peacham, Vermont, on land once owned by Tim’s grandfather. The camp will be a tiny home, with a mere 300 square feet of indoor living space on two floors with an additional 96 square foot three-season porch. I will have help along the way by friends, building professionals, and the Holy Spirit. I grew up in the woods of Northern Minnesota, a sacred space that shaped and formed my spirit, and the holy ground that Tim and I are blessed to nurture, feeds and fuels my soul today. This small and simple structure is already a sacred space – I have the gift to give it shape and form.


Taking stock of one’s gifts and skills, passions and dreams is a worthwhile endeavor. Sabbatical time by the rector, however, is a time of renewal for the parish as well. To be open to God’s sacred space is a holy gift, and I ask that you join me in sabbatical renewal. In conjunction with the Vestry, I have invited two clergy members of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont to join us on our sabbatical journey. They will celebrate Holy Eucharist and preach alongside Deacon Zarina and our Lay Preacher’s Guild members. They will also assist with sacramental needs that may arise between July and November. I have also invited one of the priests to guide us through the year, helping us to name, create, and nurture the sacred in our common life. I trust that through our intentional sabbatical season, God will enter in anew, and the community of St. John’s in the Mountains will hear and respond to God’s call to ministry anew.


Please contact me with any questions you may have –


Your brother in Christ,




The Rev. Dr. Richard R. Swanson