This week Executive Director Valerie Hsu offers a seventh blogpost, below.
UUCC’s ministerial sabbatical starts on April 1 (SO SOON!), and many of you have asked me how I am feeling as we count down the days.
I’m feeling okay, I think. Thank you for asking.
I’m feeling okay because of the extensive preparation behind this sabbatical and the extensive talent that surrounds me. I feel equipped and resourced, and I feel grateful.
If you are newer to UUCC, you may not know that Paige and I serve as co-equal halves of UUCC’s Executive Team. Our congregation is structured so that the Board of Trustees (members of which are elected by the congregation) casts vision and establishes ends for the congregation, but the Board delegates the responsibility of achieving our congregational ends to the Executive Team.
It’s a lot of responsibility, and I am glad it is a shared responsibility! To execute our congregational ends, Paige and I as the Executive Team work closely together to oversee day-to-day operations, supervise staff, set direction for programming, make financial decisions, report to the Board, and more.
I feel lucky to have a partner who has wisdom gained from years of experience and whose judgment I trust. I would never, ever want to carry the responsibility alone. And in the next five months, even when the other half of the Executive Team is on sabbatical, I will not be carrying the responsibility alone.
This sabbatical has been in the works for a year. On March 21, 2022, UUCC’s Committee on Ministry submitted a recommendation to the Board of Trustees that the congregation begin the process of planning a sabbatical for Rev. Paige Getty in compliance with her contract.
Last March, the Committee on Ministry also recommended the development of a “sabbatical committee” who can identify the congregation’s needs during Paige’s absence and assist in implementing measures to meet those needs.
Our resulting Sabbatical Committee is composed of UUCC members Jodi Brown, Jill Christianson, John Harris, and Kirstin Nelson. You’ve already heard from them via this sabbatical blogpost series or during the worship service on January 29, 2023, when we reflected together on the purpose and meaning of sabbatical in all our lives. Through those blogposts and worship contributions, you have experienced their spiritual maturity, thoughtful intentionality, and dedication to the congregation.
The sabbatical committee is just one of many groups of talented lay leaders I will be leaning on for support during the ministerial sabbatical.
UUCC’s Personnel Advisory Committee has been a formidable resource to me in the past year as I’ve learned, grown, and stepped into my role as a supervisor of our staff team. The members of the personnel committee — Sarah Basehart, Jenny Bonilla, Suzanne Henig, Susan Jameson, Stuart TenHoor, and Karen Walsh — bring with them a wealth of experience and expertise in human resources, employment law, and nonprofit management. I look to this committee for advice, guidance, feedback, and support, and they serve as a sounding board on many personnel-related decisions.
I’ll also be looking to the Stewardship Council for their collective guidance on stewardship strategies as we tend and nurture this community we are building together. Stewardship is more than just financial giving — it’s about all the ways we invest our time, talent, and treasure to build the future of UUCC. Stewardship Council members include Ben Burt (C.O.R.E. — Connecting with Others and Recognizing Engagement), Suzanne Henig (Chair), Kevin Mercer (Board of Trustees), Zach Nelson (Auction), and Scotty Scott (Endowment Board).
He’s not a UUCC lay leader, but Kirk Freeman, one of Paige’s colleagues in the Chesapeake UU Ministers’ Association, has formally agreed to be a pastoral resource to our congregation during Paige’s sabbatical. Kirk will be available to support Karuna and the Board of Trustees during these five months, and he will be responsive to pastoral care needs that arise within our community during this time. While Paige is on sabbatical, there might be moments when UUCC needs a pastoral perspective — that’s what Kirk is here for, and I am grateful to be able to call him when those moments arise.
The UUCC staff is a dynamic, talented team that is dedicated to the mission of this congregation. Each member of the staff brings unique gifts that enable us to collectively serve the mission and ends of UUCC together. Robin’s dedication to teaching OWL and our Unitarian Universalist values challenges us to evaluate critically how we are meeting the faith formation needs of adults and children today. Hannah has the dual superpowers of seeing needs and strategizing solutions to fill those needs. Kelli’s enthusiasm and energy draw us in and propel us to do more. Michael shares his musical talents with us week after week, so that worship is not just an intellectual endeavor, but an experience that engages our hearts, minds, and souls. Sara’s default mode is to engage thoughtfully and relationally with everybody they encounter, reminding us of our responsibility to connect people — deeply, spiritually — as a radical departure from and antidote to our individualistic, capitalistic world.
So, I really mean it when I say I won’t be on my own in the next five months. I am grateful for the dedication, wisdom, energy, perspectives, and partnership of so many — those named in this blogpost, and those unnamed because there isn’t enough space — who will help lead UUCC while Paige is on sabbatical.
And that’s why I’m feeling okay.