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Growing And Grounding Ourselves
January 2007

The Sabbatical Planning Committee has been formed to guide the church through the planning and implementing of a sabbatical leave for our minister, Reverend Elea Kemler, who will be on sabbatical leave from our church from mid-January, 2008 through mid-May, 2008. Our congregation, following recommended UUA guidelines, contractually provides for a ministerial sabbatical “after four years of continuous service to the church.” The UUA recommends that planning for a sabbatical begin well ahead of time, as this is the key to a successful sabbatical experience for the congregation.

Our committee includes liaison representatives to the Boards of Deacons (Donna Allen) and Trustees (Karen Johnson), the Worship Committee (Becky Pine), the Religious Education Committee (Melinda Green), the Renewal of Giving/Generosity Team (Steve Lieman), the Welcoming Congregation Team (Karen Goudey), as well as recently retired Deacon Alice van Ormer. We are working closely with Elea on creating connections between what the congregation will focus on and what Elea will be focusing on during the four month sabbatical period so there will be a sense of cohesion and coherence to our different shared experiences. Growing and Grounding Ourselves has begun to emerge as a theme for the Sabbatical, so that is the title of this month’s green newsletter.

We will be meeting jointly with the Worship Committee to plan the worship schedule for the Sundays while Elea is away. We will be aiming for a balance of voices from inside of and outside of the congregation, with a coherent plan of Sunday services that nurture and stimulate our own spiritual growth.

We will also be meeting with our other staff members, Denise Noble, Director of Religious Education; Shawn McCann, Music Director; and our Office Administrator, Susan Parks, as well as other key committees as we make decisions about how to manage church while Elea is away. We have asked Elea to make a list of all the things she does during the week, so we can be sure everything gets done. We expect it to be a long list!

We will be creating a sabbatical webpage to add to the church’s website soon.

The ministers of several of our neighbor UUA churches have recently been on Sabbaticals or are about to begin one. We have gathered resources from them so as to learn from and build on their experiences as we begin our own planning.

This explanation of why a sabbatical is a good idea comes from the Harvard UU Sabbatical Handbook:

Ministerial sabbaticals are renewal periods for clergy — times where they can step away from the pressures of sermon preparation, away from continuous evening and weekend commitments, away from personal and organizational demands - and into a time for intentional exploration and reflection, for drinking deeply from the Spirit’s life-giving waters, for renewing enthusiasm, creativity, and commitment for ministry.

Even with a strong committee and careful planning, we will need everyone’s help and support to make the Sabbatical experience successful. This will be a first time event for our congregation, so we are bound to make some mistakes along the way. But we are confident that our church community can survive and even thrive through this experience of growing and grounding ourselves. We welcome any thoughts, questions, concerns, or suggestions you may have. Feel free to contact any of us by phone, email, or in conversation at church.

Becky Pine, Chair
Donna Allen
Karen Johnson
Melinda Green
Steve Lieman
Karen Goudey
Alice van Ormer
Elea Kemler

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

Most recently updated 2007-01-26