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Moving Toward the Voice of Water
July 2007

The Sabbatical Planning Committee is still actively working on our task of planning and preparing for the four-month period of time next year (mid-January to mid-May, of 2008) when our minister, Elea Kemler, will be away on Sabbatical Leave. Our committee will continue working throughout the summer and all of next year. At some point our name and our task will shift from planning for the Sabbatical to actually producing / implementing / overseeing it.

There have been some changes in the membership of our committee. When Donna Allen retired from the Board of Deacons, she also chose to step down from our committee. We wish her a well-deserved rest from church work (at least for awhile!). Having been elected a Deacon at the Annual Meeting, Melinda Green, who was already a member of our committee, has become our liaison to the Board of Deacons. She will also continue as liaison to the Religious Education Committee.

Karen Johnson resigned from our committee when she became Chair of the Board of Trustees. Her fellow Trustee, Deborah Johnson, switched roles with her by stepping down as Chair of Trustees and joining our committee as Trustee liaison.

In our deliberations about how best to support our community’s ability to care for each other during the sabbatical, we became aware of a need for more coordination with the Caring Committee. We are happy to report that two members of the Caring Committee, Diane Hewitt and Susan Randazzo, have volunteered to join our committee to help with this very important task.

In addition to our own meetings, the Sabbatical Planning Committee is now being supported by four very active subcommittees, whose work will continue over the summer and fall.

The Sabbatical Sunday Service Subcommittee, known as the S4 Committee, (David Gordon, Sue Gleason, Alice Van Ormer, Melinda Green, and Becky Pine) has created an exciting calendar of Sunday Worship Services, beginning with Jan. 6, 2008, when we will send Elea off and welcome our new Sabbatical Minister in a double-blessing service. About half of the sabbatical services will be led by members of First Parish, including our ordained UU minister members, Clio Fisher and George Downey, and half will be led by people who are new to us. The new voices will include our part-time Sabbatical Minister, an experienced UU Sabbatical ‘Coach’, two guest preachers with current or former high-level positions in the UUA, and visitors from two nearby UU churches. We have created a framework for maintaining continuity and a focus on our spiritual theme, Moving Toward the Sound of Water; Seeking Spiritual Refreshment, throughout the sabbatical.

The Handbook Subcommittee, (Brenna Mayer, Barbara Murray, Dave Hill, and Steve Lieman) is creating what promises to be an impressive handbook, complete with pictures, to provide an overview, answer questions, and serve as a reference for all members of the church community during the Sabbatical. We are already predicting that this publication will be so useful that it may become the prototype for an annually-updated church membership handbook!

The Hiring Subcommittee, otherwise known as the Board of Trustees, (Karen Johnson, Deborah Johnson, and Jim Frey) will be interviewing candidates for the position of part-time Sabbatical Minister over the summer, with a goal of filling the position by early fall. They have created and publicized the job posting and resumes have already started arriving. It looks like we will have many good candidates to choose from.

The Grant Funding Subcommittee, made up of Jack Wool, Jim Frey and Keith Dawson, is hard at work researching possible grants and finding creative ways to help fund the Sabbatical.

Looking Ahead

You will start to see some changes in the fall as we experiment with some new ways of conducting our Sunday services and becoming a community with more skills and confidence in our abilities to lead worship and provide ministry for each other. You will also be invited to participate in several workshops of interest to both adults and youth, beginning in the fall, and lasting through the Sabbatical, on a variety of topics, ranging from the Spiritual Practice of Welcoming, to Personal Spiritual Growth, to UU Values and Identity, and to Developing a Liberal Understanding of the Bible.

When our committee began its work last fall, we stated our hope “that Elea’s sabbatical will be a time of growth, reflection, and spiritual renewal, not just for her, but also for the entire congregation.” At this point we are excited about the many ways this is already starting to happen and we are confident that the sabbatical will be a vibrant chapter in the life of First Parish Church of Groton.

Please feel free to contact any of us with any questions or concerns you may have.

The Sabbatical Planning 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 2007-04-18