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Moving Toward the Voice of Water
October 2007

This month’s newsletter update provides a brief report on the work of the four Sabbatical Planning Subcommittees, where much of the recent work of planning and preparing for Elea’s Sabbatical has been taking place.

Having created a job description and advertised the position over the summer, the Hiring Committee, made up of Trustees and Deacons, has begun interviewing candidates for the position of Sabbatical Minister. At press time, they had narrowed the field to four finalists out of a dozen excellent applicants. They expect to have a decision soon.

The S4 (Sabbatical Sunday Service Sub-) Committee, charged with creating the Worship calendar for the 18 weeks of Elea’s Sabbatical (Jan. 13, 2008 May 11, 2008) report that all of the Sundays are now scheduled, with an exciting and inspiring roster of speakers and topics.

Thanks to the efforts of the Handbook Committee, you will be receiving a comprehensive Sabbatical Handbook later this fall. The handbook will include the complete schedule of Sunday services, information (including some photos) about our guest ministers, and detailed answers to the many questions we all have about how we will manage during Elea’s absence.

The Grant Funding Committee has submitted a proposal to the Louisville Institute for funding, which could help defray Elea’s expenses if it is accepted. Here is some of what Elea wrote on the application about why she is going on a Sabbatical and what her plans are:

After twelve years in parish ministry, I have learned the not so surprising truth that being a spiritual leader is not the same thing as tending to one’s own spiritual life. I love my work. I feel called to the work of ministry and compelled by it, but I am thirsty. I need to go the well. As the poet Rumi writes, “Jars of spring water are not enough anymore. Take us down to the river.” The last few years of my life have been extremely busy ones, between serving as the sole minister of a busy, growing congregation and, along with my spouse, parenting twins who are now four years old. I am thirsty for time time to read, write, pray, walk, and visit with loved ones. I am thirsty for quiet and for the sight and sound of the ocean. I am thirsty for a sense of inner expansiveness, for the peace of God. The goal for my sabbatical time is to create an intentionally slower life and to re-engage myself in the practices of daily prayer, writing and movement. I hope to re-enter active ministry, post-sabbatical, with the discipline of daily prayer and habits of self-care more ingrained and with a sense of being rested of having drunk deeply from living water.

During my sabbatical, I will seek to quench my own spiritual thirst and to move toward the God of my thirst and my yearning, the God of my replenishment and my abundance. The primary wells I will drink from during my sabbatical are the study and daily practice of contemplative prayer, walking, and the practice of yoga. I will also read in the contemplative tradition, keep a journal, and meet with a prayer group. I will take two short retreats, one to immerse myself in contemplative prayer and one to refresh my yoga practice. Finally, I will take myself and my family to the water, literally, by visiting two oceans: the Atlantic at Edisto, South Carolina and the Pacific in Northern California. The congregation and I will both be focusing on the overall theme of the sabbatical: Moving Toward the Voice of Water: Seeking Spiritual Refreshment.

The Sabbatical Committee is excited and optimistic about the year ahead of us. While it will be a unique and different year, there are many important aspects of life at First Parish that will stay the same. You will still receive the weekly “News, Needs and Opportunities” email and a monthly print newsletter. Sunday morning services, church school and youth programs will still happen every week. Important programs like Coming of Age and the Spirit Life workshops will still be offered, as well as some new adult spiritual growth programs. Our many committees will still meet and accomplish an amazing amount of work to manage the church and guide us to fulfill our vision to take care of one another and be a blessing to the world. And as always, your participation will make a difference in all that we do.

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 2007-09-27