Sunday, June 24, 2012

Farewell for Now!

Farewell for Now!
 (My final message before taking sabbatical July through October 2012.)

We’ve been talking about it for quite some time now, and it is here.  I’m actually taking a sabbatical.  What does that mean – for me and for you?

One place we look for meaning – is the dictionary.

So here’s one entry from  [suh-bat-i-kuhl] 
Origin: from Latin sabbaticus; from Greek sabbatikos; meaning “of the sabbath” – the seventh day of the week.

In ancient Israel, the law required that a sabbatical year be observed every seventh year, in which the land was to be left uncultivated and debts annulled. It was a very holy observance based on the creation story in which God rested on the seventh day.

Now most of us are accustomed to hear of University Professors taking sabbaticals and perhaps traveling abroad to study --- but is this something ministers do?

Yes, in the world of Unitarian Universalism they do.  Our denomination seems to think that we will be better ministers if we occasionally take a break from our congregations.  Here is how it is stated in UUA guidelines:

The Minister shall use sabbatical leave for study, education, writing, meditation, and other forms of professional and religious growth. Sabbatical leave accrues at the rate of one month per year of service, with leave to be taken after four but before seven years of service.

I am completing my sixth year of service this month – so I’m overdue.  And yes, I’ve “earned” six months – but I think four will do just fine. 

I wanted to share with you today some of my GOALS for this sabbatical – and that famous line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet came to mind: 

“To be or not to be:  That is the Question.”

During my sabbatical I plan –

With family and friends …really BE with them.
With the Spirit in places the Spirit speaks to me and in ways that I connect with all things spiritual.
Physically Healthy – by continuing some exercise and dietary practices I have begun recently and maybe strengthening them – and by learning new practices.
Growing in knowledge and understanding, through books, classes, and reflection (writing).
Having Fun
Here – now – (wherever here might be at the time).

During my sabbatical I plan –


With this congregation.  I’m over-connected.  I will unplug for four months for my own growth and development and that of this congregation. 

I’ll miss you of course.  But here’s why you won’t miss me – well, not much….

      Much planning by sabbatical committee, committee on ministry, pastoral care associate, and board! 
      Wonderful speakers (thanks to program committee).
      Once a month minister – Gaye Ortiz (who will also lead the ingathering and canvass service)
      Folks on call to meet your needs:
     Shari Barr for Pastoral Care Needs
     Teresa Winn for other ministerial concerns

AND – you are going to have some exciting possibilities to consider during my absence!

What’s up?
      Board has leased a lot on the corner of Cypress Lake Rd and the bypass to explore possibilities of renovating the existing building (inside and out) for a future meeting space for our congregation.

      Lease is for 6 months.  This 1.43 acre lot, the adjacent lot, plus 4 lots nearby will be available as a gift from property owner in early 2013 if plans are feasible for locating our fellowship there.

And here’s more good news!

At their June meeting, UUFS board members named Matt Dowling as our Project Director for Exploration of Building Renovation.  Matt is the husband of our Children's Religious Education Committee Chair, Jenni Dowling, and father of Patrick and Will.  He is also a general contractor for Hardin Construction, a large commercial contracting firm with offices in Atlanta and several other cities in the South.  Matt oversees very large projects, like Georgia Southern's new Centennial Plaza!  However he has offered to use his skills and expertise as we explore possibilities for renovating the building at the corner of Cypress Lake Road and Veterans Memorial Highway.  Matt also has a drafting business and is now drawing up possible plans for us to use in estimating costs. 
He's open to our ideas and hopes to hear that many of us have ways we can help save money by doing some of this work ourselves!  You'll be hearing more from Matt as we progress.  Please thank him for his generous service to our congregation!  

Now – what can YOU do?

      Share ideas and possibilities with board for:
     Financing this possibility
     Raising Funds that will be needed
     THEN – help organize a fund raiser for our building fund (perhaps silent auction in the fall?)
      Give special gifts to building fund.
      Share ways with Matt that you can help.
      Provide “in-kind” gifts of cleaning, clearing, mowing, landscaping, etc. 
      Share excitement with others and bring in folks who can help make this happen!

We’re asking you to use your imaginations and creativity as we move forward.

After careful consideration of possibilities, be ready to VOTE at our Annual Meeting in the fall on whether or not the congregation will accept this gift with the intent of using it as our future location!

So I leave you with good plans and good opportunities.  And I look forward to seeing what’s happened when I return.  Meanwhile, I’m going to end this sermon time the way I used to watch Roy and Dale end their television program when I was a kid.