January 6, 2014

 

Dear Members and Friends of Hancock UCC,

As we work together in my fifth year as your Senior Minister, the time has come for me to take a sabbatical leave.  Hancock provides regular sabbaticals for their clergy as one part of a strategy to keep our relationship healthy and vibrant.  I count it a privilege and a blessing to be given significant time for rest and renewal, as well as for preparing for the next tasks of ministry that lie ahead.  And so I begin with thanks to you for this opportunity.

With the blessing of the Pastoral Relations Committee and the Standing Committee, my sabbatical leave will begin on April 21, 2014, the day after Easter morning.  I will return to work on August 17, having added my vacation time to the 12 weeks of the sabbatical.

During my time away, Dana will assume my responsibilities as head of staff and primary worship leader.  We are very pleased that our Congregational Care Coordinator Alex Will is able to extend his working hours with us.  He will be working 30 hours per week during my leave, assisting Dana with worship leadership and pastoral care.  I’m sure that you will agree that the congregation will be in very capable hands.  I am grateful, not only to Dana and Alex, but to the rest of the staff, who will work so hard during my time away.

For me, the first priority of the leave will be rest.  This has been an extremely active five years at the church, as all of you are aware.  In addition, the past year has been a difficult one for me and for my family, due to my son’s illness.  I am feeling deeply tired, and am looking forward to resting.   I have a week planned with friends canoeing the St. John River in Maine, as well as a week in the wilderness in Colorado.  MaryAnn and I will take a driving vacation to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal and Vermont.  Most of the weeks will be divided between the parsonage here in Lexington and our place in Maine.

As important, however, is that the fall will bring the beginning of our new Student Minister program, which is a cooperative effort with Andover Newton Theological School.  This will bring new responsibilities for me in working with our Student Minister, and I will spend a good bit of time making sure that we are ready to launch this new program.  Details about it will be shared with the congregation soon.

Finally, I will be doing some disciplined reading and reflection on the matter of maintaining vitality in my ministry career.

Please know that if I were in charge of the world, everyone would get sabbatical leaves, as regular as rain.  I understand that this is a privilege, and wish that I could extend a sabbatical to each of you.  I pledge to return to Hancock ready in the fall to celebrate the completion of our building project, and to begin the next phase of our life and work together.  Your questions are always welcome, please let me know if I can provide you with information that you need.

Grace and Peace,

 

Paul