Dear ones,

As I write in late March, with less than a month remaining in my pregnancy, I am over-whelmed with gratitude to all of you. People’s people are supporting my growing family in so many ways. A few people’s people have asked me, “Is there anything we can do to help you as you get ready for the new baby?” You are already doing so much.

You all provide good health insurance for my family and me. Thank you. For so many in our country, even now, accessing medical care can lead to financial catastrophe. I am grateful to have insurance that allows us access to quality medical care with co-pays and deductibles that we can manage. Thank you for being generous. Thank you for living your values in this way.

You are giving me a paid parental leave. I have six weeks paid leave in my letter of agreement (that’s what the UUA suggests for ministers) and will be taking an additional two weeks of sick time and vacation time. My plan is to be away from church beginning April 16 (or whenever I go into labor) and return to lead the flower service on June 10. I should be back to a fairly regular work schedule on June 12. (If the plan is radically changed from that, you all will be informed.) I know that a paid parental leave is rare in this country and I am grateful that you all are allowing me time to prioritize my healing from giving birth, bonding with and caring for a new baby, and helping DeForest adjust to life as a big brother. Thank you for living your values in this way.

I am also grateful to all in our community—and the wider world of Unitarian Universalism—who are taking on extra work to allow me to be away. While a few things won’t happen in my absence, the most important church programs will continue. Many of the staff are taking on extra work to make sure things happen in my absence.

Volunteers are also stepping forward. A short-term pastoral care team of Rochelle Habeck Hunt, Rick Johnson, Nancy Mitchell, and Tim Sparling will be available to offer emotional and spiritual support to people who might need it. (If you need this sort of care during my absence or know of someone who does, please contact Dana in the church office and she will contact a team member.) Our youth, with the assistance of their teachers and Diane, will be leading three services while I am away—two coming of age services and the annual bridging service. The Sunday services committee will be working closely with visiting UU ministers who will be guest preaching during my absence—bringing you their very best sermons. Music leaders will also be leading a service while I am away. Your board will be continuing the mission and vision refining process and, working with the finance committee, prepare and share with you the budget for the next fiscal year that the members of the church will vote on at the annual meeting in May. Committees and other groups in the church will continue their good and important work in my absence. I can step back from the church with confidence that everything will run smoothly enough in my absence.

A few people have asked if I might need a few meals or someone to hold the baby for a while during my leave. Know that I will be well-cared for by family and friends during this time. My parents and my husband Brian’s folks will both be visiting for extended periods of time to help us adjust to life as a family of four. Some of our friends have already started stocking our freezer with calzones, tamales, and other food that it is easy to eat one-handed while holding a baby. If something unanticipated comes up and we need more care than that, I will reach out. There will be plenty of time to pass the baby around over the summer and later, once she’s built up some strength and immunity.

Thank you again for all the ways you are supporting my family in this exciting time. I am so grateful for your care and support. I wish every child could be born into such a generous and loving community.

Thank you,
Rachel

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