As many of you know by now this summer was a big milestone in my life as I marked my 20th year in ministry. To celebrated that occasion I was able for the first time in my ministry career to take an entire month, actually five total weeks, away from my normal day to day ministry responsibilities. During that time I was blessed with the opportunity to go to the United Kingdom and Uganda for studies, vacation/renewal and mission work.
Even before heading overseas my journey started with the youth mission trip to Kansas City the week of June 23rd. That was an amazing week of service with 20 youth and adults from Bethel. From Kansas City I went to New York and then Sunday morning, July 1st I arrived in London and met my classmate Mark at the airport to make the drive down to Bristol, where we were to start classes the next day. This was to be my first of three summer of classes towards a Doctor of Ministry program that I have been accepted into. The next two weeks I was at Trinity College in Bristol, England along with 15 classmates and two mentors who guided us, along with several guest presenters, through varies issues and topics related to "The Pastor as Caregiver." In these two weeks I was introduced to many new ways of thinking about my approach to taking care of people as their pastor and friend. Our class included students from several different countries and church backgrounds, so I really valued the collaborative learning from so many gifted and diverse brothers and sisters. The evenings and weekend in between classes gave time to visit the sites of Bristol and catch watching some of the England World Cup matches, which were so exciting.
After the two weeks of class I was able to do about 11 days of sight-seeing across England, Scotland and Wales. Loving British history as I do, I was amazed by the opportunity to experience so much history and culture in such a few days and yet I was even more amazed by how much I didn't see. I guess the old saying that you can't do it all is so true. The last two days in the UK were spent in Cambridge where the Lutheran Church in England is based along with Westfield House a Seminary that they run to train pastors in England and across the world
I was in the UK for about 25 days and I would say that the experience that had the greatest impact on me was the 30 hours I spent at Launde Abbey, an old monastery founded in the 12th Century that now serves as an Anglican Retreat Center. I have recently joined a group of pastors in Texas that gather for spiritual renewal retreats and they challenged me to practice solitude, which does not come natural. Anyway, the Abbey was in the middle of these rolling hills of farms and sheep grazing. There I worshiped in an 800 year old chapel, prayed in its accompanying basement prayer room, walked through some amazing scenic pathways all while quietly growing closer to my Savior Jesus. It was unlike anything I have experienced before, I even started to appreciate, even enjoy the solitude!
I thank all the people at Bethel for their support to be gone for this extended time. Bethel has even started a fund through which people can support my Doctor of Ministry studies and I am very grateful for those who have already done so. Please contact me directly if you would like more information and I look forward to sharing part 2 of my journey in Uganda in a couple of weeks.