It is a gift of love for a congregation to send a minister on sabbatical and it is a gift of love for our community members to tend to each other so that all will be well in her absence. I’m honored to do what I can to help keep things running smoothly at church while Rev. Jennifer enjoys rest, renewal, study, and travel during her months away from First Church. I won’t be doing this work alone: all of us will be tending to the life of our church community so that all will be well while Jennifer is recharging her batteries.
Sometimes when an authority figure is gone for a while, we need reminders of best practices for communal health. Here are some that come to mind: kindness, direct communication, assuming good intentions, deep listening, empathy, recognizing and managing our own anxieties, doing our spiritual practices, asking for help. I know you know these things. We’ll just have to remind each other to practice them and extend grace and understanding if we forget.
I have great trust and confidence in you, the members and friends of First Church. I have great trust and confidence in my colleagues, the staff at First Church. I have great trust and confidence in our lay leaders and teams. We will miss Jennifer during her sabbatical and look forward to welcoming her back with open arms in August, excited to hear her stories and to bask in her energy—the result of our community’s loving gift of sabbatical.
Love stretches us. It calls to us to let go and trust. It calls forth our best selves. Love teaches us in unexpected ways. What will we learn between now and August? Greater love for sure.
Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister