From Rev. Gretchen Haley
January always seems a challenging month. All those things we said we would do “in the new year” suddenly need to be done, and there is a little less daylight and a little more cold, making motivation and time harder to come by. Also, pastoral concerns are often their toughest in January. The rumors about people “waiting” through the holiday season are true it turns out. It is tough on the heart, and the schedule.
I was able to take some time away in January, all part of an intentional plan to set the foundations for my beginning as senior minister in July. It’s not exactly “vacation,” but rather intentionally set-aside time to prepare, study, and reflect. I’ll be taking a week or two every month between now and July (except this month) for this sort of study leave.
In January, my time was devoted to three things:
First, getting some much needed rest and re-setting after the pace of the past year and a half. I had a great time catching up on streaming television, books I’d been meaning to read (especially Ta-Nehisi Coates’Between the World and Me), and cleaning the house (for some reason it doesn’t stayclean…).
Secondly, I began setting some important foundations around personnel practices. I reached out to other UU congregations of a similar size about their practices as an employer, and I spoke with a UUA consultant who specializes in supporting Directors of Music and Religious Education. I convened a mini-summit of past, present and potential future Personnel Committee members to clarify lessons and questions for us in meeting our ethical, legal and programmatic requirements as an employer. From these initial steps I will be forming an HR Task Force that will (in collaboration with the Governance Task Force) advise the Board and me regarding how we can address these vital questions. More information on this in the coming weeks.
Third, and perhaps most exciting of all, I spent a good deal of time on the early stages of our search for an Assistant Minister. I’ll be providing a full update (along with our newly appointed Search Committee – Scott Denning, Bonnie Inscho, Sara Edwards and Tim Pearson) on February 14th after both services. For now, let me just summarize by sharing that we had a very strong applicant pool from all across the country. By the 3rd week of February we will have that group narrowed down to 2 candidates, and by the end of March, we will likely have a candidate ready to start in August! I am inspired and humbled by the enthusiasm and skills of my colleagues who are applying to serve this congregation and join our team. We have the great problem of needing to choose the best fit among many strong candidates. Join us on the 14th at either 10:10 or 12:30 for more information!
With all of these great “away” projects, it remains also a busy and exciting time at the church. Between the new Foundations series, Sunday services, Vespers, preparations for the pledge drive, and all the usual stuff of church life, I have been feeling a little extra packed. If you’re with me on that and you too had a busier than usual January, here’s to a return to equilibrium in February – remembering that even when we “desire” to do it all, sometimes the most important part of desire is discerning what we will not be able to do, and how to maintain a sustainable pace. That’s my hope for all of us – in February, and in our continued shared ministry together.