Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills

Open minds, loving hearts, helping hands


Sabbatical- What’s it all about? For congregation and for DLFD…

Author Sarah Ahrens, Written Jan 14, 2015

What is a sabbatical?

A sabbatical is a period of special leave granted for professional development in a manner not possible during the press of activity in a typical work year.  Sabbaticals are not vacations, but pathways to viewing vocations in new ways, through fresh eyes. Religious educators make an intense commitment of time and energy to their congregations.  This work schedule allows for little opportunity for the thoughtful enrichment, analysis, study and evaluation that sabbatical leave allows.

Benefits for the congregation:

  • The DLFD will return rejuvenated and refreshed, ready to apply the experiences, knowledge, and resources gained during sabbatical.
  • “Congregations and Beyond”-related learning will equip DLFD to promote congregational participation and growth- within the existing congregation and the surrounding community.
  • Cultivating a personal spiritual practice of mindfulness as applied to meditation, running, recovery, and work is important for the health and well-being of both the DLFD and the LFD ministry.
  • The sabbatical provides an opportunity for all members of the congregation- parents, non-parents, and religious education volunteers- to renew its ownership of the Religious Education and Adult Faith Development programs.

Sabbatical Goals:

  • Increase participation in and vibrancy of Religious Education for Children and Youth programs and Adult Faith Development (with an emphasis on Young Adult and Campus Ministry) by learning innovative ways to support family faith development that are tailored to the diverse needs and busy lives of most UUCSH families.
  • Incorporate multiple pathways into program development research that include reading, email and phone call conversations, and on-site visits to a congregation(s) that is having success in growth and retention.
  • Share “incarnational growth” best practices with UUCSH leadership as it renews its sense of mission and considers which ministries fulfill that mission in the surrounding community.
  • Continual quality improvement in how I approach my work as a religious professional by examining personal strengths and addressing challenges, drawing from recent annual evaluations for specific competency areas.