It seems timely to include this broad overview of my sabbatical activities as your Rector and Senior Pastor, to answer the numerous questions I’ve received on my studies and travels.  Honestly, I’m hesitant to go into this much detail as I did not realize the full scope of my adventures until preparing this report, but clerics are accountable for their time away and I believe in transparency.  Following is a true and complete report of my sabbatical journeys for those interested in reading.  I offer this report with deepest gratitude and humility for the gift of adventure this parish has afforded me.  I fully appreciate how privileged I am to be able to take this time, and my hope is this detail communicates how much I strove to take full advantage of this lifetime gift!  Onward!


Sabbatical leaves originate in the Hebrew scriptural wisdom of regular, disciplined cessation from productive work. Our Hebrew forebears carried a genetic memory of being enslaved in Egypt, where their survival depended upon their ability to labor for Pharoah’s ambitious building programs. They embedded Shabbot, a Hebrew word meaning to stop or cease activity, into their weekly, monthly and annual chronology. Their creation story features their God ceasing from the labor of creation itself, thus encoding sabbath into the fabric of the heavens and the earth. Everyone and everything….people, animals, even land….enjoyed the freedom of sabbath rest. This axiom of Jewish life was hideously mocked by Nazi concentration camp staff who welcomed Jewish prisoners to the Auschwitz Camp with the gate sign reading Arbeit macht frei, Work sets you free. How blasphemous to any observant Jew or Christian, who worship the God who freely gives life and loved the world so much He gave His only Son to bring the whole world in the reach of God’s loving embrace! For every exhale of effort, there is logically an inhalation. Land must rest to yield crops. Muscles must rest after activity to recover and grow. We need sleep to regenerate body and mind. To take sabbath is to celebrate God’s very sovereignty over creation, to acknowledge that God is God and we are not in charge! God does fine without us!

From that ancient beginning gradually derives the Jewish observance of Friday Shabbat and then our Christian observance of Sunday sabbath (“Early in the morning on the first day of the week” the gospel writers situate Easter Day, the morning just after sundown of Shabbat concluding the night before). This cultural foundation later births the evolution of labor laws governing time at work and time away, ultimately resulting in time for academics (and ultimately clergy) to take time away from daily work to rest, to study, to travel and to reflect. A sabbatical leave is not simply a vacation, but rather an opportunity for both cleric and congregation to enjoy space to grow and explore life without the other. Sabbaticals are not casual affairs, requiring intensive planning, budgeting and preparation. I went away so I could return refreshed to re-commit to you for another season of ministry, and thus I have. The longstanding sabbatical benefit was formerly three or four months every seven years, echoing that Hebraic scriptural wisdom; current Episcopalian diocesan policies (including Colorado) call for sabbatical leaves of that length every five years to insure optimal clergy performance over an entire career.


I am the first ECOT Rector to enjoy sabbatical leaves. Since almost every predecessor as Rector suffered some grievous medical crisis either in place or shortly after leaving Vail, I thought it wise to break that cycle through strategic sabbatical leaves. I have taken three such full leaves during my 27.5 years’ tenure as of this writing, and one mini-sabbatical leave as well. They total some 13 months over my tenure, in 2001, 2007, 2013 and 2022, a 4% total of sabbatical Sundays away during my tenure thus far. My best estimate tallies some $74,500.00 in total sabbatical cost over and above my normative compensation, with the bulk of that figure ($41,500.00) being granted to ECOT by the Lilly Foundation in 2013. This averages $1330.00 per week of sabbatical costs for both ECOT and myself, not including many generous members and friends who graciously proffered my family and me lodging in their homes, apartments and villas during every leave. (I paid income tax on those monies received and spent on sabbatical expenses.) In return, I am the longest tenured cleric in the history of the Interfaith Chapels and the longest in-place tenured Rector currently serving the Episcopal Church in Colorado. Given the dramatic disappearance of my ordained colleagues from active service throughout the Episcopal Church during and after the pandemic, one common refrain echoes. Those who retired early or simply left their pulpits, regardless of age, overwhelmingly were not fortunate enough to receive the sabbatical leaves you have given me. My length of tenure is a direct result of our shared sabbatical strategy over the years. I cannot thank you enough.


At 17 years of age I pledged to see the world and country about which I had studied and read so much. I had not traveled north of North Carolina and did not see snow until I was 21 years old! I was introduced to the concept of the European Grand Tour, a multi-national travel itinerary designed as a finishing school for young European landed gentry in the 17th and 18th centuries. The foundational axiom of the Grand Tour was that no education was truly complete without experiential travel and firsthand observation, and only then could formal education become knowledge, and perhaps later, wisdom. The Tour also introduced young Europeans to a globalist perspective beyond national borders, something I was sorely lacking as a young adult. My first three leaves, and other personal travel also, revolved around completing a Grand Tour of not only Europe, but also the entire northern and eastern Mediterranean Basin. We visited the great world centers in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Assisi and Venice while taking in as much art, antiquities, culture, churches, history, faith and adventure as we could stand. Later, the Lilly Foundation (Eli, not the flower, and yes we do call it “the church’s one foundation!!) funded my Footsteps of Paul 2013 sabbatical program as I added Istanbul, central and south Anatolia (modern day Turkey), Ephesus, Athens, Salonika (modern Thessolonika), Philippi, Corinth, Malta (biblical Melita), Sicily, Naples and the Neopolitan Gulf and Rome to my Tour portfolio. All these adventures included rest, study, reflection, prayer and intensive engagement with the past and present. I also gave back time to my family taken from them daily between these adventures, giving my daughters a more international perspective and many wonderful memories of family time together. For those keeping geographic score at home, to complete the Mediterranean Basin cycle my future plans must include Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt….and they do!

My most recent sabbatical leave took that same Grand Tour stratagem and applied it to America’s East Coast, where most of my family and pre-Colorado friends live. Given pandemic and geo-political uncertainties it seemed wise to stay closer to home. I am driven to meet firsthand the great statesmen and stateswomen who established and maintained these United States of America amongst our current national turmoil. How can I know more about Middle Eastern semitic antiquity than I know about my own country?! Finally, after three years of being anchored to this place, I needed to get out and stretch my legs as a single adult man traveling by myself for the first time in my life….and travel I did, as illustrated below! I had the time of my life, and still am enjoying sabbatical study and exploration almost daily.

Enough narrative! Down to numbers, figures, maps and details for this sabbatical just concluded! Please note these figures include the October 2021 pre-sabbatical month the Vestry graciously granted me after Mother Emily’s departure as I pushed back my main leave another year, to 2022, from its original fall 2020 schedule. And for anyone detecting a slight OCD obsession with lifetime bucket list statistics….you’d be absolutely correct! Let’s do the numbers!

Sundays Away from ECOT:19
Miles Traveled:Slightly over 14,000 miles
Methods of Transport:Plane, train, ferry, Uber, bike, car subway, trolley, bus, feet!
States Visited:12
Beds Slept In:12
Total Experiences/Sites Visited:134 (Whew, didn’t realize until just now!)
Churches Visited to Worship or Tour:



National Parks Visited:2 (20 lifetime out of 63 total)
National Monuments Visited:5 (37 lifetime out of 129 total)
National Historic Sites Visited:6 (16 lifetime out of 84 total)
National Historic Battlefields Visited:


1 (7 lifetime out of 25 total)

National Trails/Parkways Visited:2 (3 lifetime out of 11 total)
National Seashores/Lakeshores Visited:


1 (3 lifetime out of 10 total)

National Recreation Areas Visited:3 (10 lifetime out of 40 total)
Total National Park Properties Visited:22 (120 lifetime out of 424 total NPS properties, or 28%)
Other Parks, Botanical Gardens Visited:



Total Mountain Passes Driven:8
Seaports/Harbors/Shipyards Visited:



Lakes and Lakeshores Visited:3
Beaches and Bays Visited:3 (not nearly enough!!)
Total Aquaria Visited:3
Total Museum Navy Vessels Toured:7 (21 lifetime out of roughly 83 Vessels on display in the United States plus the newest super aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford CVN-78)
Total NASA Spacecraft Visited: 6 new to me (22 lifetime out of roughly 29 NASA before SpaceX Crew Dragon new manned spacecraft)
Total Live Launches Viewed in Real-Time:3!!! (One of those while kayaking on the Banana River!)
Total Presidential Sites Visited:8 (Presidential libraries, museums, NPS sites, birthplaces, burial grounds)
Total Other Famous Americans Visited:6 (Hamilton, Franklin, King, Cody, Ross, Sam Adams)
Total Nobel Peace Prizes Viewed:3 (can you name the American recipients?)
Total Art Museums:13
Total Other Museums:12 (Natural History, Antiquities, Local History, Science Centers, Specialty, etc.)
Total Disney Parks Visited:2
Total Celebrities Met in Person:2, Actor Anson Mount from Star Trek: Strange Nerw Worlds, playing Captain Pike; and Erin Gray, playing Colonel Wilma Deering on Buck Rogers in the 24th Century.
Total Musicals/Theaters/Concerti:12 Broadway musicals, plays, orchestra, ballet, and my first ever Opera… Tosca, oh wow!)
Total Major League Baseball Ballparks:4 (Truist in Atlanta, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Heinz Field)
Total Train Stations/Depots:10 (all beautifully restored treasures!)
Total Boutique Trains:2 (6 Colorado gems lifetime, just ask me!)
Total Hot Springs:4 (lost count in Colorado, all wonderful!)
Total Historic Pubs/Taverns:9 (amazing history here, truly)
Total Gilded Age Historic Mansions:4 (The Biltmore Estate at Christmas!)
Total University/Seminary Campuses:


10 visited

Total Used and Rare Bookstores:(Classified@)
Total Coffee Shops:Only God knows!




Best BBQ:Willie Jewell’s BBQ in Atlanta, owned and operated by the daughter of our very own Katie Camp! Honorable mention goes to Fox Brother’s BBQ in Atlanta, and also to Slow Groovin’ BBQ in Marble, Colorado just below McClure Pass of SH133.
Best Coffee Shop:Mirage Trading Company in tiny Moffat, Colorado on Highway 17 just south of Poncha Pass, or the Root House, 445 San Juan House just across the pedestrian bridge from Pagosa Spring’s hot springs. Best two coffee shops of the trip!
Best Hot Springs:Whew. Hmmm. Probably Avalanche Ranch, just this side of Redstone on SH133 for us, but Pagosa Springs is also a comfortable day.
Best Railroad Day:Make mine the Cumbres-Toltec Railroad, a truly authentic western rail day! Pay a bit more for the top service car, trust me.
Scariest Open Air Zip Line:The Royal Gorge Cloudscraper. But don’t.
Best Gotham Piano Bar:Don’t Tell Mama on the famed Restaurant Row, West 46th between 8th and 9th Avenues (NY). Re-vision your definition of personal space.
Best NYC Walk::Yep, the Highline for sure.
Best NYC Ticketed Daytime Tour::The United Nations. It was fabulous.
Best Art Museum:All of them. Anywhere. Just go.
Best Specialty Museum:Really enjoyed the Mashantucket Pequot Museum with the Reeders, the USS Nautilus submarine tour at the Groton Submarine Force Museum, the USS Constitution tour in Boston and the Coca Cola experience in Atlanta!
Best Presidential Museum:Honestly, Mount Vernon but in the formal system, the JFK and Carter Center were both surprisingly enjoyable visits.
Best Theater:The one I was in! The Kennedy Center (DC), the Lincoln Center (NY), and the new Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, were all outstanding venues for the arts. I also really enjoyed Ford’s Theater in DC.
Best Pub or Tavern:The historic Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan was wonderful, as is the Fish Market in Alexandria, Virginia’s Old Town. In Boston, head to the Haven at the Sam Adams Brewery complex in Jamaica Plains, or to the Black Rose, just off the Boston Seaport, and in Philly the Plough and the Stars in Old City on Chestnut Street.
Best Waterside Eatery:Anything in Old Town Alexandria, or Cantler’s Riverside for fresh crabs outside Annapolis, Maryland
Best Park:Any Botanical Garden is worth it, from Atlanta to Chicago to Brooklyn. Perhaps favorite for sheer beauty and biodiversity was Quiet Waters State Park, outside Annapolis, MD.
Best Small Town Vibe:Loved both Old Town, Alexandria and Old City Philadelphia near the water, but also “downtown” Roswell, Georgia. All great!
Best Immersive Tour:Skip Colonial Williamsburg and head right to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA and make sure to stay at the Old Sturbridge Inn and Reeder Family Lodges. Next level wonderful!
Best Retreat Center:Kanuga Camp and Conference Center in bucolic western North Carolina, just above Hendersonville, where I became a human being. The largest Episcopal conference center in the country, and a great place to meet your best self. A close second is Basin Harbor, Vermont, about 45 minutes by car, outside Burlington, Vermont on the shore of Lake Champlain. Beautiful.




To each and every server, cook, driver, pilot, captain, attendant, cleaner, doorman, and staff person who took such professional pride in caring for me and those I love during my travels.  To my dear daughters, family and beloved friends with whom I was privileged to spend time during this sabbatical leave.  To my kind hosts, professional and personal, for your hospitality and generosity.  To those who contributed so generously so I could go.  To Jayme Rinn our Senior Warden, our Vestry and staff who worked so hard in my absence.  To Deacon Mike, Canon Carl, Father Mike, Pastor Carl and Father John for your excellent worship leadership in my absence.  And to this wonderful congregation, thank you in more ways than I can say, for this time which saved my ministry and helped me navigate an extraordinarily difficult life transition.  I am a better man, a better father and a better priest for this leave.  Sabbaticals work!


P.S. USS Enterprise CVN-80, the 3rd Ford class supercarrier and the 9thAmerican ship to bear the name, had her keel laid in April, 2022 at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia.  If all goes to plan she will be commissioned there approximately November 2025.  Who’s with me?!!!