November always invokes for me the theme of gratitude with Thanksgiving in the midst of it. And I love that we have a national holiday dedicated to this spiritual practice. Take a moment, if you can, to think about all the ways you are grateful… Go ahead. I'll wait.

Sometimes it seems a bit trite to say the words – "I'm grateful for my health" or "I'm grateful for my family," or my friends, etc. But I think it's really important to acknowledge all of the gifts in our lives. There are many who do not have these blessings.

This November, I want to acknowledge that I am very grateful to my church. I'm grateful for a church that loves its minister and wants to support all the ministries of the church. I feel that love on a daily basis and I hope you feel it back. And I'm grateful that the Board has affirmed a short sabbatical this coming summer, June - August. I’m grateful that so many people recognize that this sabbatical is for the health of the entire congregation. I will bring back with me new ideas, new spiritual insights and stories to share!

A sabbatical is part of a standard ministerial contract. I accrue one month for every year I've worked for OCUUC. Most ministers take a 5-6 month sabbatical after about 5-6 years, but I asked for only a three month sabbatical after four years, because it's so much easier on smaller congregations who have only one minister – it costs less and it's easier to manage the absence of the minister for a shorter period. I want this congregation to grow and thrive in the months that I’m gone, not create hardship. And a sabbatical may be time off from the church, but it is not a time to drink martini's and lay on the beach. It's a time to rejuvenate our Call and develop professional skills. I will be working with the Committee on Ministry to set up a plan for my sabbatical and we will be communicating it with you.

Between now and then, I'll be working hard to ensure that there are meaningful worship services during this summer; that pastoral care will be covered by the new Pastoral Care Team; and that administrative duties will get attended to.  I’m blessed with a wonderful Committee on Ministry who will help me with communication and ensuring that all the bases are covered in my absence. I’m blessed with a Board that understands and supports the health of the congregation and its minister. And I’m blessed by all of you – for all the ways that you support this church.

A month of gratitude? We need to be practicing this all year!

With loving faith,

Rev. Sian