Rev. Jennifer’s Sabbatical

Senior Minister Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom is taking sabbatical from February 20 – July 20, 2023.

What is sabbatical?

Sabbatical is extended time away from ministerial responsibilities to seek spiritual invigoration, rest, and renewal. Sabbatical will allow Rev. Jennifer to get a reprieve from the demanding role as our Senior Minister. It is typical for a minister to take sabbatical every 5-7 years. Both our Reverend Emeritus Drew Kennedy and Reverend Dena have taken sabbaticals during their time with First Church.

When is it happening?

Rev. Jennifer’s sabbatical is scheduled for a five-month period from Feb. 20 – July 20, 2023.

Why is sabbatical helpful?

Both interdenominational and UUA research report that the ministry is a high stress profession with lots of burnout, even in small churches. As one of the largest UU congregations in the nation, First Church is a complex operation and a particularly demanding job for our Senior Minister.

Sabbatical can also enrich the congregation through hearing from diverse preachers with new perspectives and emerging ideas. During Rev. Jennifer’s time away, we will host regular pulpit guests, including national leaders in Unitarian Universalism, and an Assistant Sabbatical Minister.

How does it work? Who will fill in? As announced earlier this winter, there are robust plans in place for our Senior Minister’s sabbatical. First Church has hired Rev. Jim Foti, a mid-career minister with 10 years of experience in a large Midwestern congregation, as our Assistant Sabbatical Minister. He will preach once a month and work 10 hours/week, focusing on social justice activities and denominational affairs. All ministers and staff will maintain their current responsibilities. In addition, some staff will take on additional responsibilities: Rev. Dena will serve as Head of Staff, which she has been doing during Jennifer’s summer leave for the past seven years. Rev. Kimberlee will be assisting with pastoral care and leading the Anti-Racism Team. Jean Johnson will work with the Board of Trustees.

Pulpit guests from around the country. We will also hear from exciting pulpit guests during sabbatical! Find a schedule of pulpit guests here.

What will Rev. Jennifer do during her sabbatical?

Rev. Jennifer plans to use her five months for rest, reflection, reading, and writing. She also has some travel plans. For her time away to be rejuvenating, Rev. Jennifer will fully unplug from First Church affairs during sabbatical. We do not expect to hear from her during her five months away, but we trust she will be coming back recharged and refreshed!

Important dates:

February 10: Assistant Sabbatical Minister Rev. Jim Foti arrives

February 12: Rev. Jennifer’s Sabbatical send-off after service. Please join if you can!

February 20: Rev. Jennifer’s sabbatical begins

July 20: Rev. Jennifer’s sabbatical ends

August 6: Rev. Jennifer returns to FUSM!


Senior Minister Sabbatical Team: Eric Heilig, Chair, Suzie Considine, Jeanne Durnford, Lorraine Jacobs, Juanita Mast
Contact: ; or staff support Rev. Jim Foti at