S3 for South Georgia – A Sanctuary in Time

“S3 has helped me develop the discipline and self-awareness to have an eye on my reserves. I believe that this is an important guard against burnout.”

– Rev. Dr. Jimmy Asbell

“. . .the difference between wandering through a barren land all alone or travelling with deeply loyal friends…”

– Rev. Creede Hinshaw

“What I did not know when we first began was that the time we would spend together investing in building relationship with God and each other would spill over into ministry and life.”

– Rev. Teresa Edwards

“The luxury of spending two or three days with people you respect, trust, and love has been a real gift. It has given us a safe place to fall and a nurturing place to grow.”

– Rev. Karen Kilhefner

I continue to grow in my understanding of Sabbath. As an ordained United Methodist elder, I continually experience the deep need for margin and reserves in my life. I don’t control when the crises will inundate me. As I pastor, I try to focus on the urgent needs of the week. Unfortunately, the reality of ministry tends to be extremely chaotic. Just two weeks ago, three tragedies struck in one day. But I was not overwhelmed. I was ready to minister. How? I am learning to remember and observe Sabbath practice.

I wish I could tell you that came naturally. It does not. My cultivation of Sabbath came through a unique blessing called S3. The S3 learning experience offered me and seven other elders from South Georgia the opportunity to create a sanctuary in time – providing a Sabbath environment for us. Through the S3 program, we were afforded a significant amount of time together over a two year period. Through Sabbath, study, and service (S3), the experience created deep relationships with God and one another.

We studied Centering Prayer. While other members of my group thought I didn’t get that much out of the prayer videos, the experience has broadened my spiritual practice. I am a better and deeper preacher. It encouraged me to develop contemplative practices in the local church. It transformed my ministry.

We gathered for Sabbath experience five times per year for two years. We played golf. We ceased labor. We experienced the gift of life and friendship. We laughed, ate, drank, and shared our lives with each other. Even though we no longer receive funding, we still meet three times per year. The same is true for every other S3 group!

We committed to service by mentoring new S3 groups. Our group started new groups in South Georgia and we are now laying the groundwork for birthing the S3 program in South Georgia.

S3 speaks for itself. Take time to call up and ask a S3 participant (South Georgia has 20 graduates), “What difference has this made in your life and in your church?” Every single one will tell you it has been effective and powerful.

If you are a lay person, encourage your ordained elder to participate. Give them the time and support to engage fully in S3. It will make all the difference in their life and it will make a difference in your church.

Very soon, we will have detailed information, a helpful video for churches and clergy, and an application on the conference website, http://www.sgaumc.org

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