by Rev. Dave Dunn
As you likely know, I plan on taking a sabbatical from February through May of 2024. UU ministers are entitled to sabbaticals after four years of service and are entitled to one month of sabbatical for each year of service. I am currently in my eighth year of ministry at UUMAN yet have taken no sabbatical.
A sabbatical leave offers an extended time for study, reflection, rest, and renewal—all ingredients for effective ministry. A sabbatical leave is part of the congregation’s covenant agreement with the minister; and just as importantly, the congregation will benefit as I will return refreshed, filled with new ideas and with rekindled energy.
Amanda Bralley and I have been serving as Co-Chairs of the Sabbatical Committee – which is a temporary Standing Committee, reporting to the Board of Trustees. The committee consists of the two Co-Chairs and four other members of the congregation. The other members are David Kroeber, Anu Mongia, Tina Alexander and Bruce Langston. Amanda will serve as the sole chair once I actually begin the sabbatical.
The Sabbatical Committee is charged with the following:
- Help schedule Sunday Service guest speakers three times per month. (This is essentially complete; almost all slots are filled with ordained clergy or other professional speakers)
- Schedule “On Call” minister for Pastoral Care and any Rites of Passage rituals that may be necessary (Rev. Kim Palmer will be available for this)
- Communicate with the congregation before, during and after the sabbatical
- Assist Board of Trustees regarding any issues pertaining to staff supervision
- Assist the minister and congregation in the development of a re-entry and re-engagement program following the sabbatical
I believe we have the right people in place to serve on this committee since they all either serve on the worship team, serve as worship associates, sing in the choir or serve on our technical/livestreaming crew. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us. We can be reached as a team via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among other things, during my sabbatical I plan on spending a two solo weeks at The Mountain (February & May), taking a class at Meadville-Lombard Theological School and deeply exploring the eight-limb path of yoga through a yoga teacher training that will run from late January through early May.
I know that UUMAN has had some history with ministers returning from sabbaticals and then shortly thereafter leaving the congregation. Even though UUMAN’s ministerial contract states that the minister must continue at least one full year after any sabbatical, I am not interested in leaving UUMAN. I am finding that the shared ministry we do together to be most fulfilling. Although one of the purposes of the sabbatical is to give me time to generate new ideas and recharge my batteries, I still feel like I have ideas to share and energy with which to pursue them. That said, this spring is probably the right time for me to take this sabbatical.
Nurture our spirit. Strive for Justice. Transform the world.