This week marks the midpoint of UUCC’s ministerial sabbatical. Today, Jill Christianson, John Harris, and Kirstin Nelson from our Sabbatical Committee offer reflections on moments in congregational life that have stood out to them during the sabbatical so far. Their reflections are followed by a midpoint check-in from Rev. Paige Getty.
What is the ministerial sabbatical? For a quick refresher, click here.
From Jill Christianson, John Harris, and Kirstin Nelson
It is astounding that we are already at mid-point in the ministerial sabbatical for Reverend Paige and for our congregation. We’ve been impressed in many ways as this time has passed:
- Our annual meeting went off without a hitch — including a unanimous vote to create a dedicated youth position on our Board of Trustees! Great leadership and communication led us to this success.
- We are adding members to UUCC; this is wonderful. I (Jill) recently met newer member Natalie Coore, who contributed to the June 11 service with Rev. Kirk Freeman and travels to us weekly from Harford County. The energy and engagement that Natalie and others bring to our community are super.
- Our Climate Crisis Team has pitched to us Plastic Free July, which calls for simple changes that can make a difference. We all can do this. To me (Jill), this is a message that we are in this together; as UUCC members, we collectively have an impact in making the world a better place.
- On June 18, we celebrated Robin Slaw and her contributions to UUCC as our Director of Religious Education. Robin shared her box of mysteries with the congregation one last time. Many parents, children (some now grown), and friends were there to thank and honor Robin for her caring, insightful guidance over the years. Following the service, congregants gathered at coffee hour to enjoy cake and share stories about RE, OWL, Quest, and the many other activities Robin made special at UUCC.
- One of the many responsibilities of a minister, in addition to delivering stimulating sermons and caring for the spiritual needs of congregants, is to make sure the congregation will remain healthy and function efficiently in their absence. Rev. Paige has prepared UUCC well for the ministerial sabbatical. Two highlights of our preparation for congregational health are:
- The Covenant of Right Relations. Our Covenant of Right Relations present a set of guiding principles on how we strive to interact and support each other; the Covenant of Right Relations was embraced and formally adopted by the congregation at this year’s Annual Meeting.
- Because we are humans living in community with each other, conflict will occur. When there is conflict, the Conflict Management Ministry will support congregants in the process of returning into right relations with each other.
Yes, we miss our minister and we are moving forward as a congregation. This ministerial sabbatical, a moment of intentional discernment, reflection, and rest for us as a congregation, comes at a critical juncture for us. Grounded by our newly-adopted values, mission, and ends, we look ahead with anticipation to the work of building our future together.
As we arrive in September, with the marking of Rev. Paige’s 20 years with UUCC, we will have a lot to reflect on as our path for a strong future together continues.
From Rev. Paige Getty
In March I told you that my primary intentions during this sabbatical time would be to engage in discernment and to risk discomfort. And while I did not join the rock climbing expedition during our early-April trip to Joshua Tree National Park, I have been risking discomfort in subtler, less physical ways — stepping into (instead of avoiding) some challenging dynamics in the extended family; inviting a trusted group of people to participate in a clearness gathering (for more about this communal approach to discernment, read this piece by Parker J. Palmer); and reading some books that have expanded my thinking (Thick (And Other Essays) by Tressie McMillan Cottom; Body Work by Melissa Febos; Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey; Babel by R.F. Kuang; Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malindo Lo).
Additionally, this time has been blessedly restful and spacious, allowing for a leisurely April visit with my mother, for a spontaneous weekend visit to Georgia with Graham to pack up some of his mother’s things a month after she died, and for a quality of time with the teenage Gettys that is atypical in our usual schedules.
And there’s been some fun, too, of course — a fair sampling of reading that qualifies as junk food; visits with friends (either out of town or hosted at home in Columbia) that would’ve been less accessible during working time; and at least one adventure scheduled for later summer, just Graham and me.
It is a real gift to have this time away from the day-to-day responsibilities of UUCC leadership, even as I’ve been involved in some of the decision-making at several critical moments this spring, as you know. I’m encouraged by the general reports I’ve seen from the annual congregational meeting — especially your endorsement of new statements of values and mission — and I look forward to the work we’ll do together beginning again in September. Thank you, UUCC.
With love and appreciation,