Rachel Lonberg 2016 Stoll SmallDear Ones,

No one ever joins a church thinking, “what I really want to do is join together with others to be an employer!” Nevertheless, you all are an employer. You employ me; Diane, your director of religious education; Chris, your church administrator; Dana, your database manager; Bill, your music director; Denise and Andrea, your custodians; Nicky, your religious education assistant; Jennifer, your accompanist; Mackenzie, who leads your young adult group; and a number of people who occasionally provide childcare on Sundays and at church events.

South African archbishop Desmond Tutu, a hero of mine, once said that the church should be “an audiovisual aid for the sake of the world,” that, in church, we get to practice living in the world we dream about and show that it can be done. The church’s employment relationships is one of the ways that the church makes its values real in the world. You all do this. You pay church employees according to what the Unitarian Universalist Association considers fair. You provide high quality health insurance for the three employees who work more than ¾ time and their families. You are modeling respect and generosity toward your employees. You are a powerful audiovisual aid showing what it means to be a good employer.

Another way that you make our values real is by offering sabbaticals to your program staff, Diane and me. Diane will be taking a sabbatical from January to June 2017. A sabbatical is a chance for your program staff to set down the heavy mantle of ministry (and though she isn’t ordained, Diane clearly ministers to our children and families) for deep rest, spiritual practice, and the learning and long-term planning that is often set aside in the rush of deadlines and to-do lists that make up church life. Diane will return to us rested, rejuvenated, and ready to lead us in new directions.

While Diane is away, it will be our chance to do things a bit differently. While the Sunday religious education program will continue, other things might be a little different as our sabbatical team (Emily Cutler, Connie Ferguson, Kelly Henderson, Jeff Kirkwood, and Mary Kate Webster) takes up the tasks that Diane will be released from. We will learn about all Diane does – and likely develop a new appreciation for her in her absence.

Thank you for bringing our values to bear in so many areas of our life together.

Thank you for being an example of the world as we wish it was.

Thank you for being such a good employer.

See you in church,

Rachel

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