Sabbatical Report – Final Edition

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am back!

I am so excited to have completed my sabbatical season and returned to Good Shepherd.  I look forward to celebrating together the good works that God has been doing in our midst.  I hope to see many of you at Mark Prince Memorial BBQ on Saturday and at worship on Sunday.

The final days of sabbatical were some of the richest.  After the flooding of early October, the rain stopped in time for Ann Claire’s 18th birthday on the 7th.  What an important milestone in her life and the life of our family.  We were able to mark that time with worship, prayer, and blessing  with spiritual mentors and friends.  I also had the chance to see Ann Claire sail in a regatta south of Savannah, see Mary Foster finish her JV Volleyball season in fine form, and surprise Cate and Eliza with a pizza delivery at their school for lunch.  Because of the flooding, my fishing and shrimping goals were postponed, but I was able to kill my first deer of the season just before sabbatical ended.  It was a huge joy to celebrate my first buck ever!

As I reflect upon my time away, I am overwhelmed with God’s grace and the tangible ways I experienced it recently.  I feel compelled to say thank you to Good Shepherd again.  You have deeply blessed me and my family.  In the midst of thanksgiving, it is odd to remember that my sabbatical began with the Emmanuel 9 and ended with the 1,000 year floods in South Carolina – two defining tragedies for our area.   I am not discouraged by this fact.  The reality of our broken world and the desperate need for hope and new life in Jesus Christ  compel me as I return to ministry.

Re-entry into the life of the parish will take some time.  I look forward to talking to you about your past three months as we lean into the glorious future that God has for us.  In the next months, I hope to share with you some of the dreams and visions God has put on my heart for Good Shepherd.  I encourage you to continue in your journey of faith by daily prayer and bible reading, participating in the life of the community, and worshiping together on Sundays.

The best is yet to come,

Fr. Shay +

Sabbatical Report – September Edition

sewanee cross
sewanee cross

The University of the South Sewanee, TN

Beloved in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I write you with a thankful heart and a degree of excitement.  After a long rest, I am growing ready to return to “normal” and practice the ministry to which God has called me.  What a joy and a grace sabbatical has been, and I promise you that I will not waste the remaining 19 days.  Here are a few highlights of the month of September:

1. Friendship – Part of what I have realized is that being the rector of a growing parish makes being a good friend challenging.  During the month of September, I have eaten lunch with friends here in the area, visited friends who live out of town, and spent a week with a friend in the mountains of Tennessee.  Friendship is one of God’s great gifts and I hope to be a better friend even as I live out my calling in parish ministry.

2. Family – As the summer travel came to a close and as school routines resumed, I made a commitment to try and make the weekends special for the girls.  One of the things that I realize is how fun a weekend can be when the pressure of preparation and presentation are removed.  What a joy to spend Labor Day Weekend with the whole family at a friend’s cabin in Table Rock and to see the opening game of the Clemson Football season!  We were able to tailgate with Blake Steen and worship with Blake and Patterson Fralix that weekend.  Two weeks later, we attended Tara’s family reunion in Washington, NC with Eliza and Cate (the teenage girls were booked).  This is a reunion that Tara attends most years in September without me.  What fun to be with family and on the water in that beautiful space.  In addition, I have been able to go to countless volleyball games and events as well as celebrate significant milestones like Ann Claire being accepted to Anderson University.  Our family has been significantly blessed during this sabbatical time.

3. Deep Rest – One of my goals after the summer whirlwind of travel and learning was to experience some deep rest.  I was sitting on the beach in mid-September when the realization occurred to me that I was really at a new level of rest.  I identified the three “P’s” of my priestly life that drain my energy and have to be managed – preparation, presentation, and pastoral concerns.  Together these three are the heart of ministry and also what generate much of the wear and tear of ministry.  A regular pattern of Bible reading, journaling, exercise, reading, study, and pursuit of hobbies has led me into a new place of renewal.  I am deeply thankful for that.

4. Important Breakthroughs – God has been speaking to me very clearly about my own struggles with grace and how I seek to initiate what I believe is best rather than receiving what He gives – clearly the best.  God has revealed this to me on a dock and in the river.  As I have prayed about this and discussed it with trusted mentors, I am convinced that it may be the chief message of this sabbatical.  Another important revelation has to do with where we go and how get there as a parish family.  I believe God has been speaking to me about Vision and areas of emphasis for the ministry of Good Shepherd.  I have had moments of excitement and energy as I was driving and sitting in the woods.  The Lord is gracious to speak as we are willing to listen.  I am so thankful for this time.

5. Writing Projects – One of the things I love to do is write, but it often seems that parish life is too busy to do any substantive writing.  Over this month, I have completed an essay about sabbatical for the Jubilate Deo, started two pamphlets on the “Why’s?” of the Christian faith, and begun work on a class in early English Christianity.  It has been a fruitful time of reading and study that has inspired me to be more disciplined after my return.

Speaking of reading, I finished another book on the war in Afghanistan, Into the Fire by Dakota Meyer, a recipient of the Medal of Honor.  I also read Billy Graham’s nook, Nearing Home and am working on the Christian classic City of God by St. Augustine.  I also nearly completed Secret Missions of the Civil War by Stern, which was only available at the cabin in Tennessee.

I continue to grow and learn each Sunday as I have made it a point to worship in a different church each weekend.  In September, we were blessed to be at Christ the Redeemer, Clemson (an Anglican Church plant); St. Andrew’s, Mt Pleasant; St. John’s, Florence; and the Cathedral here in Charleston.  I find things in each place that I want to try or remember to do.  I am also struck by my deep longing for community and the regular rhythms of our common life.  We do worship well at Good Shepherd and I am excited to return to that pattern with you.

I have so much more to tell you when I return.  This will be my last Sabbatical Report in writing.  I will plan on being back in the office on Monday October 19 and seeing many of you on Saturday the 24th at the Mark Prince Memorial BBQ.  I am excited to preach and celebrate on Sunday the 25th as we enter a new and exciting season as a parish.

I would be remiss not to mention the amazing effort of the staff and vestry leaders during this sabbatical season.  We are blessed to have so many Confident Leaders in our midst.  Please continue to pray for me as I pray for you.  These last two and a half weeks will be a treasure as we celebrate Ann Claire’s 18th birthday, and I have the opportunity to go on one final retreat before sabbatical comes to a close.

The best is yet to come,

Fr. Shay +


Sabbatical Report – August Edition

view from the eye

August 31, 2015

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Today is the Feast Day of St. Aidan and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne.  Before my trip to England, I barely knew these saints and I had no idea what Lindisfarne was.  What an amazing month and and what a life-changing trip!

On Saturday August 1, we flew to Baltimore and stayed with seminary friends.  The Rev. David Drake is the rector of an Anglican church plant in the suburbs of Baltimore, and we were blessed to worship with him and the Church of the Resurrection on Sunday the 2nd before flying overnight to London.

The first three days were spent in the big city of London.  We loved seeing historic and religious sites.  The highlights were Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye.

view from the eye IMG_0979

While we were in London, Tara and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a special night at the theatre to see our favorite musical Les Miserables.  What an amazing story of Gospel grace and the failure of the Law.  Be forewarned, many references to the storyline will appear in upcoming sermons.

From London, we traveled to Canterbury by bus for two days and then on to Oxford for three days.  To be in both of these cities for me was nothing less than a dream come true.  Canterbury Cathedral and the Roman ruins were thrilling.  Seeing the crypt at Canterbury where Huguenots (my family included) were welcomed to worship as they fled persecution in the 16th and 17th century allowed us the opportunity to remember all believers persecuted for the faith.  There is still an active Huguenot congregation that meets in the crypt.  Oxford was beautiful and following the footsteps of CS Lewis was another lifetime goal realized.

We worshiped Sunday August 9 in Oxford at St. Ebbe’s, a lively Evangelical congregation that is a part of the Church of England.  They are a multi-ethnic church that has planted several churches in the area and has a vibrant outreach to university students.  There were people of all ages at St. Ebbe’s including lots of children.   During worship I was stunned by the arrival of Clair Miller and Ed Simmons, our ministry interns from this past year.  They just “happened” to be in Oxford on Sunday.  We enjoyed an awesome day of food and fellowship.  It was great to talk with people who knew and understood us.

magdalen selfie

On Monday the 10th of August, we rented a car and a new portion of the adventure began.  Driving on the left side of the road using a standard transmission auto for 4 days was both thrilling and terrifying.  Having a car allowed us a great deal of flexibility to travel at our pace.  We started the week with a quick peek at Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle) before heading to the northeast coast of England.  We traveled through the Yorkshire Moors to reach the ancient seaport city of Whitby.  It was here that the great synod occurred in 664 AD that aligned British Christianity with Rome and united the Church of England.  Being in Whitby tied our trip together historically as we remembered that Roman monks from Canterbury and Celtic monks from Lindisfarne met at Whitby to decide the future of the church in England.  I will be studying this interesting piece of church history more in the upcoming weeks in order to prepare a class for the congregation when I return.  Here is the 12th century abbey ruins at Whitby that sit atop the 7th century abbey ruins destroyed by the Vikings:


From Whitby we traveled north to Holy Island (Lindisfarne), our final stop on the trip.  For me this island retreat was the highlight of England and the place to which I would most want to return.  Crossing over the causeway at low tide knowing that we would be “trapped” in this peaceful spot was just the beginning of the excitement of Lindisfarne.  Bishop (and Saint) Cuthbert used Lindisfarne and the smaller, surrounding islands as his refuge.  We found many here on pilgrimage and enjoyed worship, prayer, and the beauty of Holy Island greatly.  I had the pleasure of crossing over to Cuthbert’s island where he used to “trap” himself away from the demands of his ministry to be quiet and be with the Lord.  This place was a highlight for me as the picture displays.


There is so much more to tell.  Our trip home was long: Drive from Northeast of England to Oxford and return rental car.  Bus to London.  Underground to Heathrow.  Flight to Baltimore.  Overnight in a hotel.  Flight cancelled on Saturday the 15th of August.  Rented a car.  9.5 hour drive to Myrtle Beach.  Sunday drive to Charleston.  Needless to say we were desperate to see the girls and sleep in our own beds.  On the way home, we were able to worship with camp friend, the Rev. Hamilton Smith who is planting an Anglican church in north Mt. Pleasant called St. Thomas.  It is so great to be home!

The last two weeks of August have been filled with getting four daughters and one math teacher-wife back to school. There is so much to do that it makes we wonder how we do it when I am not on sabbatical.  I have been able to worship at St. Paul’s, Summerville and also at St. John’s, Johns Island where I was able to see the Rev. Jamie Sosnowski officiate his first baptism.  I was also able to return to Good Shepherd and assist with Ellen Fralix’s funeral.  Thanks to all of you who worked so hard to make that celebration of  her life (100 years!) so wonderful.  I was reminded again of how blessed we are at Good Shepherd to have the talented staff team that we do.

I finished the book Openness Unhinged and was really touched by the final chapter on Christian hospitality.  You will hear more about that later.  I also read How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill and St. Cuthbert by Bede.  I read more English church history in my seminary textbook, A History of the Church in England by Moorman.  All of these books helped me understand more of what we saw in England.  The time to read is a great blessing and reminds me that I need to continue with that discipline after sabbatical.

The midpoint of sabbatical passed last week and I can tell you three things are true:

1) I miss you all and the ministry of Good Shepherd very much.

2) There is a lot more reading, writing, praying, hunting, hiking, fishing, and watching football that I want to do before I return.

3) The gift of sabbatical continues to be a living sign of your love and care for me and my family which is only a small reflection of the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. That fact moves me to tears and praise.

Please continue to pray for me especially for the discipline to study in these upcoming seven weeks.  I promise to redouble my efforts to pray for you.  You will be pleased to know that I remember you by name at different times as the Spirit leads and additionally as a body in my daily prayers.  What a gift!

The best is yet to come,

Shay +

Sabbatical Report – July Edition

Lake 2015 - shay slalom
Sedona, AZ

Sedona, AZ

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  What a great beginning to this indescribable gift called sabbatical!  Here’s a quick overview and some thoughts.  I also have included a few pictures as well.

Officially, my sabbatical began on July 15 so the first two weeks were annual vacation days for me.  As usual, these two weeks are family time.  After a glorious 4th of July wedding for Craig and Molly Bennett, the Gaillards headed to Lake Murray with the family for our annual ski and swim week.  It was a great joy for our girls to be with cousins from Nashville, Los Angeles, and Daniel Island.

All the Cousins and Mom

All the Cousins and Mom

Lake fun

Lake fun

After returning from the Lake, I had the great pleasure of sailing in the Camp Staff regatta at Camp St. Christopher.  We had a great time seeing old friends and enjoying the beach.  I also had time to have a surfing lesson with my nephew and Ministry Intern Ed Simmons.

After several days at home, the family headed out on our Western Odyssey – an ambitious itinerary to see some major sites in the west.  We flew into Las Vegas (first flights for Cate and Eliza) and rented a car.  We saw the Hoover Dam, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Forest, and Disneyland.  We were blessed with safe travel and abundant laughter as well as wonder at the beauty of God’s creation.  This family time will forever be one of my favorite memories from sabbatical.  Here are is a pictures from our travels.

Girls at Disney

Girls at Disney

I have missed being with you these past four Sundays.  Tara and I allowed each of the girls to choose a church that they would like to attend while we are away.  So far we have been to City Church, Seacoast, St. Philip’s, and Journey of Faith in California.  Each Sunday is a wonderful opportunity for me to listen to others preach and to see how worship in other contexts and traditions is offered.  I count each of these sixteen Sundays away as a blessing and an opportunity to learn and grow.

So far on Sabbatical I have read a battle account from the Afghanistan conflict entitled No Way Out, a biography of the 19th century statesman Henry Clay, and I have begun Rosaria Butterfield’s Openness Unhinged which explores the issue of identity and intimacy in the Christian life.  I have loved having the time and freedom to read widely.

Beyond our family, my thoughts and prayers have centered on our church and many of you who asked me to pray for you.  It is amazing how in different times and places God brings you, the beloved of Good Shepherd, to my mind. I was awakened early one morning in California with many of you on my heart.  My hope is for Good Shepherd to grow and develop as a strong Gospel witness during this sabbatical time.  To that end, I encourage you to continue to pray, attend and give – three simple ways that each member can make a difference.

I have also struggled as many of you probably have in the face of what seems like an endless string of senseless killings that began with the Emmanuel tragedy in our own fair city.  From Chattanooga to Lafayette, we are forced to ask why America is under attack in so many ways.  The darkness of sin is ever more evident in these moments which allows the light of Christ to shine greater through the church.  I am praying for each of these tragedies and the lives shattered by them.  Apart from the transforming work of the Gospel, there is no hope for America or any other nation.

In between trips, we have been preparing the girls for the school year and enjoying the summer in the Lowcountry.  You might remember that Tara and I will be in England from August 1-15.  Our 20th wedding anniversary will be September 9th and we count this special trip as an extended celebration.  We look forward to sharing with you the details of our travel and the transition to study time for me when we return.  Our itinerary includes London, Canterbury, Oxford, Whitby, Edinburgh, and Lindisfarne.

I’ll close with this picture of Tara and me taken in Zion National Forest.  I am so blessed by her partnership with me in all things but especially in ministry.  Each member of our family is blessed by this sabbatical but know that Tara is renewed in a deep way by having my full attention.




You are in my prayers even as the Holy Spirit guides my intercessions.  Thank you for this indescribable gift.

The best is yet to come,

Fr. Shay +

The Supreme Court Decision and Our Faith

Friends in Christ,

By now you have heard of the decision of the US Supreme Court rendered on Friday June 26 making same-sex marriage the law of the land in all 50 states.  To hear this news for those of us who have been paying attention to the culture was not a great shock, more of a confirmation.  The United States is headed down the path of Europe abandoning the Christian ethic and worldview that are so integral to our democracy.  In the upcoming months, we will continue to see a culture and a government live into this new reality.

How then are we to live as Biblical Christians in an increasingly secular age?

1. Uphold the truth – Marriage is not a creation or a construct of the state.  Marriage is “from the beginning” and established by God for human flourishing.  God decides who gets married.  It is our calling to charitably point to this truth in an unyielding way.  There is much to be said here for a deeper apologetic concerning the procreative function of marriage and the protection of children.  We must each learn to “give a reason for the hope that is within us.”

2. Suffer gracefully – Because of this decision and the shifting cultural landscape, people and churches who espouse the biblical view of marriage will be increasingly characterized as hateful, fearful, and on the wrong side of history.  We are called to suffer gracefully as the challenges mount.  Many Christians around the world suffer much more and the church is strengthened.  Don’t dismay; God will use this season for his good.

3. Love confidently – Our calling, no matter what the culture decides, is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a hurting and broken world.  We do so confidently because God’s word is “living and active” and never returns to Him void.  We also take heart because God’s transforming love has no bounds.  Our sexuality is broken by sin but capable of being redeemed.  We stand on that truth and declare that the “love of God compels us because we are convinced that one died for all.”  The world needs this message.

While I am away, much more will be written and the society will begin to live into the reality of the new law.  I encourage you to read widely on this subject especially from solid Christian thinkers.  I have attached several links to articles that I have found helpful.  Above all, we at Good Shepherd must focus on the vision that God has given us here.

The best is yet to come,

Fr. Shay +


Pray for Charleston with Desperate Love

This man has committed a desperately hateful, sinful, and tragic act.  I pray that every single one of us would respond with equally desperate love.

From our Worship Leader Ben Thompson on last night’s tragedy:

As I reflect on the tragedy that has happened in Charleston, I want to share my thoughts.
This man has committed a desperately hateful, sinful, and tragic act.  I pray that every single one of us would respond with equally desperate love.  A hurting, grieving, but peaceful and supporting love, and that our love would far overshadow his hatred.
As we mourn with those who mourn, as we weep with those who weep, let us remember not to repay hate with hate, but to instead repay hate with love. I pray that through this tragedy, Christians and non Christians, Black and non Blacks, Charlestonians and non Charlestonians would have our eyes opened to the brokenness of the world and that racism is still alive.  I pray we confess our own sins, repent and turn to the grace of God through Christ, and display holy acts of love and kindness in response to this tragedy.
We do not need more violence to bring resolution to last nights events.  I pray this man would overcome whatever has possessed him to commit such acts, turn himself in, and help bring peace to our city which is hurting along with all others who have and will suffer such atrocities.

From the Rector: An Indescribable Gift

Brothers and Sisters,

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he says “thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).  Undoubtedly, Paul is speaking of the gift of God in the person of Jesus Christ and the Gospel that comes as a result of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.  Each day my heart is thankful for this indescribable gift.

Today I am also thankful for “an indescribable gift” that the people of the Church of the Good Shepherd are giving to me and my family.  That indescribable gift is my upcoming sabbatical which begins in just over two weeks.  On June 30, I will turn off the lights in my office, close down my email, and power down my phone.  I am only able to do that because of my faith in the sovereignty of God and his sustaining grace.  Otherwise, I would feel that your well-being was up to me when in reality that just could not be.

In these last two weeks, I will be talking about sabbatical more and more.  I have purposefully been quiet about it unless asked because we have much to do to fulfill the vision God has given us.  But now it is time to make sure that you are ready for my departure.  I will be seeking some intentional conversations and visits before I go.  If there is something that you would like to tell me – something to pray for while I am away or to help with in the interim- please let me know.

To say that it is overwhelming to step away from the ministry that has defined my life for the last 9 years is an understatement.  For 17 weeks, I will solely be what I should primarily be each and every day – first and most importantly a beloved son of the Living God redeemed by the blood of Jesus, a husband to my faithful wife Tara, and a father to my beautiful girls.  Each of them sacrifices much for the ministry and I am thankful to give them this time.

Please know that you will be in my hearts.  I will be praying for you generally and specifically.  I will be thanking God that you, the people of Good Shepherd, have given me an indescribable gift.

With much love,

Fr. Shay +

Sabbatical FAQ

What is sabbatical?

From Creation God has ordained a pattern of rest for his people called Sabbath.  In Genesis 2:2-3, God rested from his labor, not because he was tired, but to set a pattern for the holiness of rest.  This Sabbath was enshrined in the life of Israel through the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:8-11.  Israel’s common life was punctuated by a pattern of rest that was expanded in the Law to include a seventh-year Sabbath for the land and a fiftieth-year release from debt called the Year of Jubilee (see Leviticus 25).  The biblical call to longer periods of rest and refreshment come from this understanding of our need to deeply trust the Lord and refresh our souls and bodies for the goodness of God’s work.

A sabbatical is a period of intentional separation for the church and the rector for the expressed purpose of deeper growth in the Lord and rest and refreshment for the leader.  Special leave is planned from normal duties to spend an extended period of time in study, reflection, and renewal. It is customary in the Anglican tradition for clergy to take sabbatical every 7-10 years.  This will be Father Shay’s first sabbatical in his ten years as a priest.  Sabbatical leave is important for long-term, healthy leadership and allows Father Shay and all church members to live into our vision of being known for confident leaders.

The Guidelines for Sabbatical Leave of our diocese describe it this way: Sabbatical leave is not a vacation, nor is it only continuing education; it is to promote a priest’s spiritual, intellectual and emotional renewal and growth. Sabbaticals are also a time for the clergy to reflect on his or her life, parish, mission, call and goals for the future, in order to be a more effective minister of the Gospel and shepherd God’s people. 

What are the benefits for the congregation?

Sabbatical is also an opportunity for the congregation.  Sabbatical allows church members to grow through the sharing of creative abilities in meeting programming and communal needs during the sabbatical.  Congregations also typically experience renewed enthusiasm for church vision and mission.  Sabbatical leave is important for our biblical stewardship.  It shows that we are not dependent on Father Shay, but that we trust in God to provide. 

When is our sabbatical?

Our sabbatical will begin on July 14, 2015. Father Shay will take two weeks of vacation prior to this date and then start the sabbatical leave.  We will have a special celebration to honor, bless, and send Father Shay on June 28, 2015.  We will also celebrate his return on Sunday October 25, 2015

How can church members get involved in the sabbatical process?

The Sabbatical Planning Committee wants to hear from you.  What are your concerns?  Do you have suggestions about what the congregation would like our Rector to think about or work on during the sabbatical?  Do you want to learn about the opportunities sabbatical will create for the congregation and how will it best take advantage of this time?
Sabbatical Committee:
Leah Crosby
Frederick Huiet
Kits Jones

Who will be ministering to us while Fr. Shay is gone?

The Rev. Ted Mcnabb will be serving as the priest in charge at Good Shepherd while Fr. Shay is on Sabbatical.  Fr. Ted will be available on Sundays and on Wednesdays for staff meeting, 12:15 Eucharist, and pastoral visits.  He will also be available in case of a pastoral emergency that requires a priest.  Gill Bagley, our parish coordinator will continue to be the contact person for pastoral concerns and visitations.  John Wall has agreed to continue as the Senior Warden and will work closely with the staff, vestry, and diocese to keep us on track.  Corey Prescott, Ministry and Operations Director, will take care of the day-to-day operations of the church in consultation with the Senior Warden and Fr. Ted.  

What will Sundays be like?

We will continue to live into our vision for Biblical Preaching and Spirit-Filled Worship.  Worship schedules will remain the same as we continue on our path of growth. 

Will other programs continue?

Yes!  We plan to conduct our ministry as usual, perpetuating the programs and work God has given us to do at Good Shepherd. 

Is there a chance Fr. Shay won't return from his sabbatical?

God is sovereign, but in terms of what we know, Father Shay’s vision is for long-term leadership here at the Church of the Good Shepherd.  Further, The Guidelines for Sabbatical Leave of our diocese state, “Following a sabbatical leave, the cleric is expected to commit to a minimum of one (1) more year of service in their present position.” 

What will Fr. Shay be doing on sabbatical?

Father Shay will begin his sabbatical after two weeks of vacation with family.  To grow and learn through travel, he will take a pilgrimage with Tara to England to visit sites from the birthplace of Anglicanism and the holy places from the birth of Christianity in the British Isles.  The family will also do some purposeful travel together before the beginning of school.  To grow and learn through study, Father Shay is planning to begin a Doctor of Ministry program in the fall through Trinity Seminary.  The course of study will emphasize the roots of Anglicanism in the Reformation distinctives.  To grow and learn from other churches and leaders, Father Shay plans on visiting several churches around the country in the Anglican world and beyond.  Beyond travel and study, the plans are to rest and recreate in God’s Creation so that he may return renewed and refreshed. 

Are there extra costs to the congregation for this sabbatical?

The amount included in the 2015 budget for sabbatical will cover the cost of our priest in charge but will not cover the costs of travel and education for Father Shay.  The extent of what Father Shay is able to do is dependent on the money raised.  We are asking the people of Good Shepherd to participate in this sabbatical by giving to a fund for his expenses.  Thanks to your faithful response to God’s call for us in this new season, we’ve reached our fundraising goal. 

Can we contact Fr. Shay while he is on sabbatical?

In order to allow Fr Shay to rest and disconnect from parish life, we encourage you to pray for him and his family but not to contact him.  He will be turning off his cell phone for the sabbatical.  In the event of an emergency, Gill will contact Fr. Shay via previously established channels.  

How will we know how the sabbatical is going?

Father Shay will write an article on the first of August, September and October for the newsletter.  When he returns, there will be several events planned to inform the congregation about his travel and learning. 

Good Shepherd Day School: A Teacher’s Perspective (2 of 2)

Read Clair’s first post about the Day School from a teacher’s perspective.


Clair MillerFrom keeping the classroom clean to keeping the kids from jumping in puddles every time you step outside, there are PLENTY of opportunities for chaos to abound. Anyone could get easily frustrated, exhausted, discouraged, or overwhelmed; there aren’t very many people who can handle the pandemonium that is preschool and enjoy it. Fortunately, Good Shepherd Day School is blessed with exactly those people.

The teachers demonstrate God’s love in all they do- in the way they love the students, families and other staff at the school.

Each class has a lead teacher (plus an assistant for two of the classes) who plans each day to maximize the time they spend with the children. The kids are taught all sorts of things: letters, numbers, writing, reading, shapes, colors, etc. But more importantly, they are taught about the Lord Each class reads a bible story every day, as well as singing worship songs and praying as a class, emphasizing the truths that God made, loves, and cares for each one of them.. The teachers who love the children so well teach them who God is and that they are loved by our Creator. They teach them how Christ has saved them and they teach them how to pray. Even more than all that, they demonstrate God’s love in all they do- in the way they love the students, families and other staff at the school.

The Day School as a whole is just an amazing ministry that reaches kids, during those crucial first few years of learning, and their families. We just finished out the school year last Friday, and I’m so blessed and thankful to have been part of it for the past year. If you haven’t before, I’d encourage you to come by the Day School. Come get involved with the summer camp, come read a book to the kids, come pray with them, or just come have a look! Regardless of whether or not you can get involved, I hope that you are encouraged to know that the Lord is working through this ministry that comes from your community, your church. He is doing great things at Good Shepherd!

Register Now for Summer Camp!

For the first time, the Day School is continuing for six weeks of summer camp! It is going to be tons of fun. You can find out more about the camp here, it’s not too late to register! Anyone that fits the age range is welcome!

Good Shepherd Day School: A Teacher’s Perspective (1 of 2)

For the first time, the Day School is continuing for six weeks of summer camp! It is going to be tons of fun.  You can find out more about the camp here, it’s not too late to register! Anyone that fits the age range is welcome!


Clair MillerHello everyone! I’m Clair, one of Good Shepherd’s Ministry Interns, and this is my first blog post! I’m also the assistant teacher for the two’s class at Good Shepherd Day School, and I have absolutely loved becoming part of your community in both of these circles.  I’m sure you hear plenty about the Day School, but as I have the privilege of experiencing it firsthand every day I wanted to share a personal look into the day school. Hopefully this post will just give you a glimpse of a day in the life, and hopefully you will be encouraged to know how blessed you are to be connected with such a wonderful ministry.

Just imagine trying to do hand and footprint painting with 12 four year olds, or trying to have a water day with 7 toddlers in bathing suits AND diapers.

A day in the life of GSDS is busy. While the kids are only there for the mornings, their time is packed with different activities, crafts, and lessons led by the teachers. The mornings are packed full with lots to do and lots of little bodies with enormous amounts of energy. A lot of you have kids- you understand. Just imagine trying to do hand and footprint painting with 12 four year olds, or trying to have a water day with 7 toddlers in bathing suits AND diapers; trying to have a relatively calm class party for 16 three year olds, or trying to keep 9 two year olds clean and dry during a shaving cream craft.

I was never planning on working at a preschool- I’ve worked with kids before in nurseries and out at Camp St. Christopher, but never kids this young and this consistently.

As an assistant, I have gotten to know the Day School staff and have personally been very blessed by them. I have also been so very blessed by the children. I was never planning on working at a preschool- I’ve worked with kids before in nurseries and out at Camp St. Christopher, but never kids this young and this consistently. I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy it. When I was looking for a job last summer, Father Shay told me about opportunities at Good Shepherd and before I knew it, I was officially the Two’s assistant teacher. And I have loved every minute of it! The Lord has taught me so many things through the sweet little children I’ve gotten to love over the past year. He’s taught me the reality of childlike faith, the pure joy of watching a two year old actually get to know God, the fruit that comes from patience… I’ve learned so much, including that I love two year olds. My time at the Day School has been a blast and I’m so grateful for the experience!

Here more about Clair’s experience in her followup post next week.

Register Now for Summer Camp!

Multiply: Why We Share Our Faith

Sharing our faith should always be done in love, and always with the power of the Holy Spirit.  We never want to force encounters or try to convert people in our own strength. We know and believe it is only God who can change hearts, so we allow him to do that.

For the first few years of my walk with Jesus, however, I so overemphasized this that I was reluctant to use or learn any sort of structure or tool. I thought that tools would create formulas and that’s not what I wanted. I did not entertain the idea that the Holy Spirit could prompt me when to use tools and structures and that I could submit these ideas to Him and follow his leading.

I can be a bit stubborn. God showed me the fallacy in my logic by taking me to Fiji.  Yes, we have a gracious God.  Remarkably, I even tried not to go. Langdon Stewart had invited me to do this evangelism training in Fiji, yet three or four times God ran me into him all throughout the Charleston area, and each time I told him no. The last time I ran into him, I finally decided I would actually pray about it, and a week and half later God changed my heart and I went.

I learned that we have a faithful and just God, faithful and just to use my reluctant scared steps to tell people about Jesus, but also faithful and just to shower his Grace upon people who don’t know him as Lord and Savior.
While I was going to Fiji, I still grew up as an Episcopalian, so the idea of door knocking for 6 weeks didn’t sound super fun no matter where it was.  It actually sounded terrifying, and well, at times it was.  Yet I learned the power of having stories or illustrations prepared in order to explain concepts about our faith.  I learned that we have a faithful and just God, faithful and just to use my reluctant scared steps to tell people about Jesus, but also faithful and just to shower his Grace upon people who don’t know him as Lord and Savior.

This will be at the heart of these Thursday night classes. We will share stories about when God has broken in and changed people’s hearts, and we will discuss various methods of presenting the Gospel. We will also teach and practice sharing stories that remind and show us the greatness of our God, as we all strive to be equipped to “be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have” in Christ.

Multiply: A Practical workshop in sharing your faith will be held on Thursdays in May, starting on the 14th. Dinner will be provided. Come to be encouraged and equipped to share your faith with family, friends, and strangers.

From the Newly Confirmed: My Testimony

Christanne Gates

I was blessed to grow up with two amazing, godly parents. My mother’s response to bad news is ‘Girls, we need to sit down and pray about this right now”. Then she sits everyone at the kitchen table, holds our hands, and prays. Because of her example, I learned to pray at a very young age. I remember calling out to God as a little girl who was scared of the dark. I knew that he heard me. It was amazing to me that God would listen to my prayers and not just my parents. But I definitely felt his presence. Even now, I am so thankful that my mother taught me to turn to God immediately about anything that troubled me.

At the age of eight, I was baptized by my paternal grandfather, a minister in the Baptist church. It was a very exciting moment for me because it was a chance for me to publicly affirm my faith.  I wanted the congregation to know that I was following Jesus because I knew He loved me, not just because I thought I had to.

My twin sister and I recommitted our lives to God as we entered sixth grade. We agreed that we were not going to be ‘typical teenagers’ and determined from day one that we were going to sit with our families at the front, not hang in the back on Sundays. We were also committed to putting church fellowship ahead of school work and jobs. Because of this, our best friends and memories were all connected to church. So, when the church we had attended for years split apart just before we began our senior year of high school, we were devastated emotionally. Our parents had been very involved in the church leadership, so they also felt a strong sense of loss.

Thankfully, God provided a small but caring group of 40 people who adopted us after the loss of our previous church family. They recognized that our family needed love and compassion after experiencing legalistic judgments and rejection. My twin sister and I joined in with a wonderful Bible memory program focusing on the book of Hebrews, which helped me to realize that God had promised rest not rules. This is a message that God has had to continually reaffirm in my life, but He provides timely reminders each time I begin to forget.

I chose to attend a small Christian college in Indiana for four years of undergraduate, where godly professors helped me listen for God’s direction rather than blindly following others’ expectations.  Towards the end of my senior year, God opened the doors for me to attend graduate school in England. This was a life-changing experience for me. I flew to England with the phone number of a friend’s friend in my pocket, the address of the university on my luggage tags, and two large suitcases I could hardly lift. The plan was to stay for one year, complete the Masters’ degree, and then return to the United States.

Of course, God had other ideas. Four years later, I graduated from the University of East Anglia with a PhD in Modern History. More importantly, I learned a lot about trusting God’s provision. The second Sunday in England, I remember crying out, “You led me here, but I cannot do this without the support of other believers. Please provide me with a church family.” That evening, I attended Norwich Central Baptist Church, the first church I joined as a member since the break-up of my high school church seven years previously. The members of this church encouraged me to get involved in worship ministry and faithfully prayed me through the challenges of adapting to another culture, standing firm as the only Christian in my academic department, and spending two summers studying in Istanbul, Turkey. They gave me rides to and from church services, took me to the emergency room when I had a kidney stone, and reminded me that even when we are “strangers in a strange land”, we are never alone.

At the same time, however, the antagonism I experienced at the university increased over the four years. I was able to share my faith with many of the other graduate students and even some of the professors in the department. It was exciting to see God working, but also very challenging to be His ambassador in a skeptical, derogatory atmosphere. When my extremely supportive supervisor suffered a stroke six months before I was supposed to present my research findings, I was left fighting on my own in the “dog eats dog” drama that surrounds academia. Despite successfully defending my dissertation in October, I knew that my time in England was coming to an end.

In November, my sister called me out of the blue to suggest that I apply for a job at Porter-Gaud Middle School. Although I had been praying that God would give me direction as I neared the end of the PhD, this was not at all what I was expecting: take a PhD and teach Middle School? However, all other doors remained closed, while all the obstacles surrounding the Porter-Gaud application seemed to melt away (including teaching a sample lesson over Skype). On December 18, I was officially offered a job at Porter-Gaud. I flew to the United States the following day. I was particularly keen on the idea of being in an academic setting where I would also be able to openly share my faith in the classroom. From the first day, I fell in love with teaching at this level. It was obvious that God had once again helped me to defy the world’s expectations and led me to another place where I could faithfully serve him.

When I came to Charleston, I was experiencing culture shock and spiritual fatigue. I had a lot of questions, especially about reconciling academic knowledge with my heart beliefs. When a close friend suggested I try Good Shepherd, I eagerly took his advice. At the time, Father Shay was preaching through the book of Romans. I was thrilled to see him preaching directly from Scripture, exploring mysteries of the faith in a calm, comprehensive way. The intimate setting of the 9:15 service also made me feel at home.

However, I was a little wary of the “Episcopal/Anglican” label. Attending a church centered on liturgy was different for me: almost as foreign as learning to say “crisps” for “potato chips”! On the other hand, my love of history helped me to appreciate the rich tradition surrounding this; and the structure of the Anglican Church, which provides accountability for church leadership, helped me to feel confident that any disagreements could be handled compassionately and scripturally. I also appreciated the fact that the members and leadership at Good Shepherd were very patient with me and with my questions. The catechism class offered last fall helped me to dive even further into Anglicanism. Then, in a January conversation, I found myself not questioning but defending the Anglican position, which surprised me almost as much as the other person!

The decision to be confirmed followed naturally from that point. As Bishop Lawrence explained, a sacrament, like confirmation, is an outward sign of an inward work.  Being confirmed allowed me to once again publicly acknowledge God’s grace in my life, which I have seen in many ways over the last few years.  For me, it also feels like an acknowledgement of restoration: the spiritual fatigue that I felt when I returned from England two years ago has faded into the background. I feel that I am once again growing in my faith, and I am eager to see where God will lead me next.

Our Sunday Vision

If you missed it last Sunday, we made a big announcement regarding Sundays at Good Shepherd.  Below is a summary of the deciding factors and our new Sunday Vision.

We are seeking the best way forward to fulfill the Vision God has given us at Good Shepherd.  Here are the values that are serving as the grid for our decision:

Everyone matters.

No member of the body will be considered dispensable in this decision nor will we decide based on majority rules.

Everyone must sacrifice.

We will all participate in giving up for the good of the whole.

The future is paramount.

There is always a temptation to make a decision based on the past – nostalgia, or the present – comfortable, but this decision must be future-oriented.  Our call to generational faithfulness means we will favor the future.

Change must occur.

What we learned in January is that we need the energy of more people together in worship.  What we also learned is that we are too big for one service if we plan on growth.  In addition, we learned that we need a traditional offering and a contemporary offering that allows the distinctives of these two to thrive: we cannot make a long-term plan on “blended” worship.

After prayerfully considering the Vision and these godly values, there were a limited number of possibilities to pursue.  From these, a consensus among our leaders has arisen around the following service schedule for Good Shepherd on Sunday mornings beginning March 29, Palm Sunday.

Our Sunday Vision

9:00 am 

Traditional worship, organ and choir, bulletin-and-books service, acolytes, alternating between Rite 1 and Rite 2, a full sermon and worship experience.

10:30 am

Contemporary worship, praise team, projected service on the screen, nursery, a full sermon and worship experience.



Preparing for a New Season

Big things are happening for the soccer program at Good Shepherd.  We’re excited to take the best of what the Upward Soccer program offers, in combination with new community partnerships, to create a fun and unique opportunity to better serve the families of Charleston with gospel-centered relationships and solid soccer fundamentals.  This new venture is called Holy City FC.


What is Holy City FC?

Holy City FC is the result of a shared vision for high quality soccer training firmly rooted in spiritual and relational development through application of lessons learned on the field.  From that vision, a partnership was formed between leaders in Charleston youth soccer and the Church of the Good Shepherd that allows for a faith-based sports program to participate in the West Ashley Youth Soccer League.

Why move away from Upward Soccer?

The short answer is this:  we would not move away from our established Upward Soccer program if we didn’t feel that God was creating for us an even better opportunity to make a positive impact on our surrounding community.

West Ashley Youth Soccer offers a well-run soccer league.  Our youth soccer partners offer top-notch player and coach development resulting from years of youth coaching experience.  And Good Shepherd offers a gospel-centered perspective on sports that can take the lessons learned through soccer and enrich the lives of parents, players, and coaches beyond the white lines of the soccer field.  Why wouldn’t we combine these things, the best of what each has to offer, to better serve the families of Charleston?

What is included in the Holy City FC program?

Players still get:

  • Fun, friendly environment
  • One hour games and practices
  • Focus on fundamentals and equal playing time
  • Faith-based sports experience, including gospel-centered practice devotions & more

In addition, coaches now get:

  • Coach training led by certified youth soccer coaches with 15+ years experience
  • Access to continued input throughout the season to maximize team development
  • Specific training on creating healthy, gospel-centered relationships with players and families

As a result, families now get:

  • A program built specifically for you
  • A lower cost to participate–Registration through the city recreation department costs $30 for City/ St. Andrews PSD residents and $55 for Non-city/Non-PSD residents, with no additional cost to participate in the Holy City FC program.

For more information, see our complete FAQ

How to Register

Registration ends January 31st

  1. Reserve your spot online:  Once completed, you will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours with instructions on registering with the city league.
  2. Register and pay* with the West Ashley Youth Soccer League administered by the City of Charleston Recreation Department.  During the registration, there will be an option to request to play with Holy City FC.
    *Need based scholarships are available through Holy City FC.

Oh No! Party Postponed!

Due to anticipated bad weather, we’re postponing theHoly City FC Registration Day Party that was scheduled for 12 – 2 pm on January 24th.  We’re working to schedule a Meet and Greet kick-around before the season gets underway.  In the meantime, contact Corey if you have questions about the program, and don’t forget: registration ends January 31!