As I head deeper into May I realize I’ve completed half of my sabbatical journey. That means my thoughts are beginning to return to UUFA and the upcoming program year. But before that time comes I have a few more travel plans, including General Assembly in June. I hope to see some of you in New Orleans.
After returning from Ireland in April, I was home for only a few days before heading off to The Mountain for the Southeast Unitarian Universalist Ministers Spring Retreat (SEUUMA). Two Unitarian Universalist Association staff members, Richard Nugent and Jan Gartner, presented a program on ‘Care for Self & Staff’. This included information and best practices around the congregation as employer and minister as chief of staff and/or supervisor. We discussed topics such as start-ups for new employees, insurance, and retirement. We even had a sneak peak at a new Ministerial Agreement from the UUA. This is the basic contract a congregation works from when calling a minister. It may be complete by General Assembly and if so, I’ll bring it back to UUFA’s Board of Trustees for a conversation about whether to update my agreement made seven years ago.
The discussion we had at the retreat around new employee start-ups was timely given that UUFA has now employed Kelli McConnell to be our Coordinator of Religious Education for the next year. She begins training on May 14 with outgoing Director of Religious Education, Morgan Watson.
On the same day I returned from The Mountain I participated in an interfaith panel discussion at Congregation Children of Israel, the Jewish synagogue. I joined Rabbi Eric Linder, Pastor Paul Baxley, and Imam Adel Amer to speak about what allows us to be in conversation with each other and ways we are similar and different. A good crowd attended, including many folks from the Fellowship. I was happy to see you there and I hope I represented our tradition well.
By participating in this event (as well as the March for Science on Earth Day) I continue to meet one of my sabbatical goals of deepening interfaith connections in Athens. I continue to meet with two different clergy groups each month, also.
To get ready for the new program year, I’ve set up some planning meetings with the Worship Arts Committee and the Ministry Council to take place during my Study Leave time in July.
During my remaining sabbatical time I’ll be reducing the mountain of reading material I want to get to. I read several Celtic spirituality books in advance of my pilgrimage to Ireland. I just completed Who’s in Charge Here?, the UUA Commission on Appraisal’s most recent study on ministry and authority in our congregations. The study identified areas where congregations and ministers are commonly unclear about who has authority for particular decisions or activities, and where they may be in conflict over that authority. Our Fellowship occasionally experiences some healthy tension over authority. As a congregation’s size or governance changes, it is wise to review where authority rests for different community activities. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be a free pdf version available, but you can purchase the report online (http://www.uuabookstore.org/Whos-In-Charge-Here-P17331.aspx).
My return to UUFA feels just around the corner. I’ll be ready come August to be back in the pulpit, but until then be well.
In faith, Rev. Alison
For earlier Sabbatical Road posts follow the links below.