Aaron’s Sabbatical Information

Aaron’s “Soft” Sabbatical Update

As 2019 closes and we look forward to 2020, I turn my attention to January when I will begin a 3 month “soft” sabbatical in order to work on my doctorate. What does this mean? It means that I will not be in the pulpit from January 12 through March 29. On January 5 I will host the Annual “Everything You Ever Wanted to Ask the Minister” Service. Then beginning Jan 6 I will be in sabbatical mode.

This is the third sabbatical I have been afforded by UUCW since I began my tenure in the fall of 1999. Unlike the previous two sabbaticals, which were six months long, this one is only 3 months. In addition, unlike the previous two sabbaticals, I am referring to this as a “soft” sabbatical which means I will continue to be available for pastoral emergencies and spiritual care upon request, as well as consultation with staff and congregational leadership as needed. I will not be regularly present in the office but will be available by phone and email as well as able to counsel in person as requested. I do not plan to have regular office hours.

My time will be spent advancing toward the goal of completing my doctorate at Hartford Seminary and organizing myself for the next stage of our ministry together. I can’t reiterate enough that I do not harbor any plans on leaving the congregation for another ministry, so worries about why I’m on sabbatical should be kept to “I hope his eyes don’t give out with so much reading and screen time!”

For those who are new to the concept of sabbaticals for ministers, please know that this is part of the original agreement that I have with the congregation that every 6 years or so I am afforded an opportunity to engage in this time of reflection, rejuvenation and preparation for the next part of our ministry together. This is a common practice for UU ministers and part of most agreements between parish ministers and the congregations they serve.

In preparation for this sabbatical, we have formed a Sabbatical Task Force, which includes Ken Bayse, Sherri Linn, Sean Reynolds, Dianne Mann, Susan Crossley and Barry Brigham. The team and I are preparing a short sabbatical manual and pamphlet to describe who will be taking leadership for what during this period, as well as ways of communicating in order to continue to conduct church business.

We have a full slate of worship opportunities scheduled for this time and the schedule will be included in the materials to be distributed on Jan 5. One of the great gifts of a sabbatical is the variety of other voices that are heard on Sunday morning.  This should be an exciting opportunity for everyone and I encourage everyone to come to these services with a spirit of inquisitiveness and excitement to experience others leading worship.

In addition to Sunday morning there will be other opportunities for adult faith development, including a workshop series associated with my doctoral studies, if all goes as planned.  Thus the “soft” sabbatical comes into play again. The Church Office will open and operate as usual with Jen at the helm.

Our Religious Exploration Program will also operate as usual. One request that I have is not to overwhelm Robin with issues related to other ministries of the church, but to avail yourself of others on the Sabbatical Task Force to assist in resolving issues unrelated to RE during this time.

Finally, please know that I am grateful to this congregation for the time and space to take a short sabbatical. It is my hope that this time will be generative for all of us, and that upon my return the first Sunday in April, we’ll continue planning for next fiscal year and the bright future of this liberal religious community.

If you want to talk to me about any of this, please do not hesitate to email me at , or call me at 508-963-5959.