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Moving Toward the Voice of Water
December 2007

With Elea’s sabbatical fast approaching much of the work of the Sabbatical Committee has come to fruition. By now everyone on the church mailing list (members, active friends and others) should have received the Sabbatical Handbook. (If you did not receive a copy and would like one or need an extra, contact the church office.) Thanks to the hard work of the handbook subcommittee (Barbara Murray, Brenna Mayer, Steve Lieman, Dave Hill), the handbook will be an invaluable reference for all throughout the sabbatical period.

As the handbook makes clear, there will be change but there will also be continuity. From Rebecca Pike’s ringing of the church bell to gather us in for worship to the lighting of silent candles, Sunday Services will have a familiar feel. There will be 20 Sunday services from January 13 to May 18; each led by a trained worship leader who will oversee the details and provide transitions to lead the congregation from one part of the service to the next. There will be an extraordinary variety of preachers, both from among our own First Parish community and from the wider UU community, with each presenting a new voice and perspective.

On November 11, David Rynick, our sabbatical coach, preached and led a pre-sabbatical workshop attended by about 55 of us. David asked us to imagine that it is next May, Elea has returned from her sabbatical and we are reflecting on what happened in church while she was away. We dreamed of what we want to accomplish and much of our dreaming had to do with growing in our commitment and connection to each other and to this community of faith. We envisioned becoming more trusting, more capable, better able to articulate our own truths. The enthusiasm and energy were palpable. The church’s webpage has a list of our aspirations for the sabbatical period. But we realized these dreams are not just for the sabbatical — we hope they will continue even after the sabbatical period is over.

David Rynick will be with us again January 13 both in the pulpit and leading a workshop after church on “Practicing Listening.” He will also lead a mid-week evening workshop Feb. 27 titled “From Intention to Action”; and he’ll be back in the pulpit on April 13, then leading a workshop on “Practices for Coming Alive” after church. David has a most engaging manner and his simple exercises produce remarkably deep responses. In his role as sabbatical coach, David will be helping us garner the most from the sabbatical experience. He stresses the importance of taking simple actions and can help us figure out how to stop pondering and start moving in the direction of our deepest hopes.

The fundamental hope for the sabbatical period is that each of us will experience spiritual growth, learning and maturation. Systems and groups that have been created to make these four-months run smoothly will continue even after Elea returns. These include the trained Worship Leaders and Pastoral Care Visitors but also and, perhaps more importantly, the greater involvement of all of us in building our community and reducing our dependence on Elea to “do church” for us.

The Sabbatical Committee will continue to meet during the Sabbatical period to help keep things running smoothly (and to celebrate the fruits of our labors.) Having put in more than a year’s effort to plan and prepare for the sabbatical period, the Sabbatical Committee now enthusiastically turns over the actual experience to the congregation. Enjoy!

From the Sabbatical Committee

Becky Pine, Chair, and Worship Committee liaison
Deborah Johnson, Board of Trustees liaison
Melinda Green, RE Committee and Board of Deacons liaison
Steve Lieman, Renewal of Giving and Leadership Development liaison
Karen Goudey, Welcoming Congregation liaison
Alice Van Ormer, former Deacon, current RE teacher
Susan Randazzo, Caring Committee liaison, former Deacon
Diane Hewitt, Caring Committee liaison
Elea Kemler, Minister

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1 Powder House Road … P.O. Box 457 … Groton, MA 01450-0457 … 978-448-6307 …   …  

Most recently updated 2007-11-28