2021 Sabbatical Plans

2021 Sabbatical Plans

Dear UUCC community,

After 30 years, the time has come for me to take a much needed break from work; it’s time to renew, reflect, rejuvenate, and reawaken. This may come as a surprise to some of you, given that I’ve only been full-time at UUCC for the last year-and-a-half. But as many of you long-timers know, I have happily given 30 committed years of work to UUCC… without substantial time off, except for some summer weeks. Also, you may not be aware, but I worked in church music (during school and most summers) before I came to UUCC. When I agreed to assume the role of full-time Director of Music Ministry at UUCC, I had a conversation with Paige (and later Paige and Sean) about my need have a sabbatical after the long interval I have been employed. There was unanimous agreement, and affirmative support from the Board for this request as well. I am truly grateful for an executive team and congregation that understands the need for time away, and wholeheartedly endorses the consideration of this option for all its staff when the time comes.

I plan to take my sabbatical between March 1 and July 31 of 2021. During this time, Tom Monroe and Valerie Hsu (and other designated substitutes) will graciously cover Sunday services in my absence. I will certainly miss playing for you all, but anticipate a renewed sense of energy and vigor when I return. I have informed the choir, and will make sure that they will still have a way to offer the occasional virtual anthems that you have come to love and appreciate these last 6 months or so.

You may wonder about my proposed sabbatical timing during a pandemic. I too was initially hesitant about it, but the more I considered it, the more sense it made. Since the choir is unable to rehearse in person, and our services remain on Zoom for the time-being, it seemed ideal to take my leave in spring/summer 2021. This will create the most minimal interruption, I believe. I hope that the majority of us (fingers crossed) will have benefited from a COVID vaccine by summer, and that we can return to the sanctuary for services beginning fall 2021. At that time I will be back and ready to hit the ground running.

Creating music for Sunday Zoom services during this pandemic has been challenging to say the least, but I have been pleased and proud at what we’ve been able to offer, and relieved that musical offerings we share through a somewhat impersonal virtual interface can still sometimes move and inspire. And, as always, I am grateful both for our wonderful Stay-at-Home Choir’s ability to embrace the technology required to create virtual anthems for you, as well as the occasional musical contributions of our enormously talented congregational members. My continued thanks goes to Ross Martin and Alan & Laurie Coltri for their incredibly generous spirits and technical expertise in making the Chalice Choir’s virtual videos a reality. We are so lucky.

At this point, I am still contemplating specific plans for my time away, but the main objective will be to REST, body AND mind. I will also likely stop teaching during this period, as I am eager for a break from that type of weekly commitment as well. While any extravagant or international travel plans may be curtailed by the realities of COVID, I’m pretty sure that I’ll figure out a few opportunities to change my local scenery, and refuel at some place either warm or beautiful—perhaps both!

I appreciate your well-wishes while I am away, and will be eager to (hopefully) greet you all in-person come August 2021.

In community,



  1. Alice Pham

    I along with many others, appreciate all that you have given physically, mentally, emotionally, and, not least, spiritually to your congregation. Go and enjoy your break!

  2. Stuart TenHoor

    Michael, that was a very gracious note to us all. I have always enjoyed your many contributions to UUCC, including the many that go way above and beyond your music. You are part of what makes our congregation great and we hope the time will pass quickly before we have you back…enjoy!

  3. Betty Myers

    Michael, it seems a great time to take a breather, and find peace in your sabbatical. I don’t think that many people understand how much energy you have devoted to the services, the Chalice Concert Series and so many other contributions over the years. There are numerous unseen hours (I know from our work together for the CCS) that go in to making all these events happen. Thank you for all you do!

  4. Laurie Coltri

    The choir has always been as sort of family within the larger UUCC family. When a loved one needs a vacation, folks hug them and wish them a happy, rejuvenating journey, even knowing how much they’ll miss them. The year I’ve had standing right next to the piano, and then working “side by side” with you, Alan and Ross to produce the virtual version of our choir, have only cemented those relationships (and have given me greater insight into how very, very hard you work and the huge challenges of translating ALL you do to a virtual setting). When March comes, we’ll wish you happy trails, dear friend. We look fondly forward to August – the home fires will be burning.

  5. Ken Walsh

    Michael, thank you for your long years of support to our congregation. You have made a difference. We are grateful.

  6. Chris Crandell

    Michael, we will definitely miss you, but wish you a relaxing and renewing sabbatical. You certainly deserve it! Hopefully, travel and good food will be involved somehow. All the best.

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