After six and a half years of dedicated service to our congregation, our Minister, Rev. Sara, will take her first sabbatical from March 22nd through August 31st. Rev. Sara, the Committee on Ministry, staff and several of the congregation’s teams and committees have been working to ensure that her areas of responsibility will be covered during this time of renewal. The congregation’s strong tradition of mutual care will continue with extra pastoral support available as requested. Our dedicated staff will ensure normal day-to-day operations continue to run smoothly.
Why a Sabbatical?
Sabbatical is an old concept that relates to a period of rest, and draws from the word “sabbath.” Theologian Walter Breuggeman has spoken of the sabbath as “resistance” to the culture of excess work and consumption that plagues much of Western society. So on Reverend Sara’s extended “sabbath” she will rest, restore her spirit, and explore creative ways to renew her commitment to our faith. She hopes the same for the congregation.
The ultimate purpose of a sabbatical is for the person to come back refreshed and recharged in mind, body, and spirit by the break from normal responsibilities and the chance to engage in something different. In a ministerial sabbatical, the emphasis is often on spiritual renewal and exploration. As the responsibilities of parish ministry are typically present round-the-clock, a sabbatical is an opportunity to put down the mantle of ministry for a time. Sabbatical leave is part of our congregation’s covenant with Rev. Sara as our Minister. As is usual in letters of agreement between UU congregations and their ministers, Rev. Sara earns one month of sabbatical time per year of service. Our ministry together will benefit as Rev. Sara returns refreshed, filled with new ideas, and with rekindled energy.
The Committee on Ministry – Sabbatical Task Force
The Committee on Ministry exists to continually assess the spiritual health of the entire ministry of the congregation. In order to make the most of the opportunity for our congregation to intentionally and thoughtfully learn and grow from this experience, the Committee on Ministry has agreed to serve as the “Sabbatical Team.” This designation seems appropriate because the Committee on Ministry exists “to strengthen the quality of ministry.” As such it is “a safe and confidential place where important topics and issues are discussed such as: the health of the congregation at large, [and] goals for ministerial growth,” among others. The Sabbatical Team holds no authority and we are not decision-makers. Rather, we will be the pulse-takers, listeners, and recorders on behalf of the church.
During Reverend Sara’s sabbatical, members of the Ministry will be checking in regularly with a number of vital committees and ministries and reporting on our overall health to the board and congregation in her absence. Working with various teams, the Sabbatical Task Force will also provide the congregation periodic opportunities to engage in sabbatical activities that mirror some of Reverend Sara’s renewal practices.
Who will “cover” Reverend Sara’s duties?
BUUF is a strong and vital institution made up of people dedicated to fulfilling our mission joyfully. The Congregational Care Team will still be on hand to assist with health emergencies and to help families in need. They are ready to assist with planning a memorial service, or to help with the decision to delay a service awaiting Reverend Sara’s return. The Family Ministry program will continue to lead youth in their spiritual development and the Worship Team will ensure quality worship continues both in-person and via Zoom during the entire sabbatical. Social Justice teams will continue to advocate for the marginalized in our community, and the Board will ensure that there is a smooth transition into the new fiscal year. Rachel Strong will continue doing administration duties and stewarding the care of our beloved building and outdoor sanctuary. Should conflicts arise, or should some emergency befall us, we have designated areas of responsibility among lay leaders to ensure that the congregation is kept sound and whole.
What will Reverend Sara do during her sabbatical?
During her sabbatical, Rev. Sara will rest – physically, mentally, and emotionally. She also intends to re-engage with a few meaningful spiritual practices. Rev. Sara has identified the following themes for her sabbatical time:
Rest & Renewal
- Personal retreat time for reflection and unstructured days
- Hopeful sites include: Holden Village (WA), St. Gertrudes, Gettysburg, PA Farm, Miraval Wellness Spa
- Visiting far flung family and friends
- More family time
- Daily writing (without a Sunday deadline) and exploring a few potential writing projects
- Physical Spiritual Practices – Yoga & Dance
- Spanish (maybe with the family)
- UU professional development opportunities