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Gretchen’s Upcoming Sabbatical

By Andrea Bazoin, Sabbatical Team Member

By now you may know that our Senior Minister, Gretchen Haley, will be taking a sabbatical from from Monday, May 6th – Sunday, August 11th. Gretchen’s last day on the pulpit will be Sunday, April 21st.

In order to make the most of the opportunity for our congregation to intentionally and thoughtfully learn and grow from this experience, a Sabbatical Team has been assembled to “hold the space” inside of Gretchen’s absence. Our charge is to observe, record, and communicate the impact of the sabbatical. We will be the pulse-takers, listeners, and recorders on behalf of the church.

Our team is meeting with staff, the Board, and congregants before, during, and after the sabbatical. The Sabbatical Team holds no authority. Rather, we are available to hear and record comments, concerns, ideas, and experiences of our church members. We are not the decision-makers, rather we are the ones to receive, distill, and reflect individual and collective experiences back to the church community.

During this time, we are intentionally engaging a number of questions on behalf of the congregation:

  • In Gretchen’s absence, what opportunities or challenges arise?
  • Where is her absence felt the most, and by whom?
  • As we remain open and curious, what are we noticing in individuals and systems?
  • What is our collective capacity to face challenges with grace and generativity?
  • Where will vacuums in congregational leadership arise, and how will we each rise to meet the challenges in order to remain stewards of our individual covenants to the church?

The Sabbatical Team is lead by Bruce Wagner and includes Susan MacQuiddy, Doug Powell, and Andrea Bazoin. We are working closely with Sean Neil-Barron, our Associate Minister (and interim Chief of Staff), throughout this process. We encourage you to approach any one of us with your thoughts or questions as they arise.

In our religious tradition, the relationship between a congregation and its called ministers is special. It is afforded through deep reflection and immersion, by all of us, into matters of heart and place. Gretchen has been our minister for almost seven years, during which time she has presented us with new ways of thinking while caring deeply for her congregation. A time away for settled ministers is essential to maintain the overall health of their ministry. Now is a time for her to step back from her regular duties into a time of refreshment, renewal, and personal growth.