There is a saying that all stories begin when someone goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. In the stories of our lives, we experience beginnings and endings at every moment. Through it all, there is the grace of community where can know and be known.
At this moment, I feel both as though I am beginning a journey and as though the story of our church community is continuing on its own terms. I am so grateful to this church for giving its ministers the opportunity to take a sabbatical from time to time. Beginning tomorrow, August 10, I will begin a sabbatical which will last until December 2. This is just a small part of my story as the minister of First Unitarian Church.
I have some ideas about the story of my sabbatical, and I remain open to grace and possibility. I plan to do some thinking, some reading, and some crafting, and I hope that out of that spaciousness I will also do some writing about spirituality, weightlifting, and community. I want to focus more on the bodily experience of lifting and crafting and less on the cerebral experiences I find at my desk. I hope that this time will allow me to return even more grounded in my connection to the sacred, and able to share that journey with you for many years to come.
Your own story as a church will continue through this fall. You will experience your own beginnings and endings. A minister’s sabbatical is an opportunity for a church to rely more on its own lay leadership. Here at First Unitarian Church, you are blessed with very capable leaders on whom to rely. I have faith that the many ministries of our church will thrive this fall, as they always do.
Some of those lay leaders who will be working on behalf of the church this fall are the Sabbatical Team. Your Sabbatical Team are Jane Beckwith, Ellen Foley, Steve Knox, and Jay Lavelle as chair. These good folks are here for you should you have any questions about my sabbatical. They will be staying in touch with worship leaders, Prudential Committee and staff throughout the sabbatical period to ensure the smooth running of the church.
The Rev. Parisa Parsa will be with you as your half-time sabbatical minister beginning on August 27. I could not be happier with this choice of a minister while I am away. Rev. Parsa has served as the minister of a mid-size New England Unitarian Universalist church, on our UUA regional staff, and as the Executive Director of the non-profit Essential Partners. She is an excellent preacher, and she has the administrative and pastoral presence needed to shepherd the church through the few months I will be away. I hope you and Rev. Parsa enjoy your time together.
You will be able to reach Rev. Parsa through the church office, or at beginning August 27. You can reach out to her about pastoral needs or anything else you would contact me about. My e-mail, , will be disabled until my return on December 2.
The minister is just one part of the community of a church. Your loving relationships with one another, and your vision for our congregation, will continue even while I step away for these few months. I will keep you in my heart during my sabbatical, eager to tell you my stories and hear your stories when I return. We will hold each other in grace and community, ready to come back together in the Christmas season to share the light of our stories with one another.
Rev. Sarah Stewart