Sabbaticals are designed for empty nesters who can travel the world,
study in an exotic place, or relocate their families for months on
end. I am obviously not one. One institution reminded me of that when
I applied for a grant to offset some of the expenses. After they
received my application, they asked me to re-apply because I was
spending "too much time in Knoxville." I asked them why I would
relocate for 4 weeks to another city, and they said, 'So you can
rest.' I told them that sleeping in a hotel room for 4 weeks away from
family was not my idea of rest.
Sabbaticals for dads with families are written differently. I still
wanted to attend as many of Parker's basketball game as possible and
to feel Drake climb into the bed in the middle of the night as often s
possible. You gave me the opportunity to tailor something to fit my
family's needs, my interests and curiosities. Even more importantly,
you surrounded me with great staff and laypeople who have done more
than simply carry on. They have been very busy about the important
work of ministry, covering bases for me as well as keeping up an
incredible pace over 8 weeks. I hope to be able to return the favor to
each one of our ministers.
All of this help means that the phone hardly ever rang; I
disconnected; and the emails have been relatively easy to respond to.
(Email does take awhile, however; I'm still working through them).
Even when you ran into me at the gym or the mall or the grocery store,
you were kind enough not to respond to my question, "So how are things
going at the church?" You nodded and said, "Enjoy your time away."
Thanks for the freedom. Throughout these last weeks, I have enjoyed
time on the UT and Carson-Newman campuses. The Carson-Newman library
staff have assisted me with any needed resources and have functioned
as an "office away from the office" while studying and writing. I have
learned that if you need anything, ask Betty Kelley or Bruce Kocour.
As great as my time was apart from you, it's even better to be home
and to be with you. I missed you, and I really missed worshiping with
my family. Thank you so much for the rest.
William D. Shiell, Ph.D.
First Baptist Church of Knoxville
510 West Main Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
O: 865-546-9661 x 114