Dear Members and Friends,

During February our minister, the Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz, will be taking a one month sabbatical. The sabbatical is an old concept that offers a time of rest, renewal and change. The word comes from “sabbath” in Jewish scripture, a day of rest after six days of labour.

In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, a settled minister is granted one month of sabbatical for every year of service. As of January 2020, Karen has 4.5 months in her sabbatical bank (see appendix below for details).

During a sabbatical, the minister is granted freedom from all congregational responsibilities, while still receiving pay. In return, the minister is expected to use the time to do whatever they need to do to renew their spirit so that they can return to congregational life with enthusiasm and new insights.

Sabbatical is a time for attending to physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs so that the minister can integrate insights and develop as a whole person. The sabbatical is thus intended to benefit the congregation as well as the minister, because it allows the minister time to grow and develop, coming back to congregational life with an enriched perspective.

What will Rev. Karen be doing?

Photo by Mat Reding on Unsplash

A one month sabbatical is a very short time to attend to everything mentioned above; Rev. Karen is being careful not to over-schedule her time, but she does have a few plans. She intends to spend a significant amount of time outside because time in nature is a source of great joy for her and it is also beneficial to her continued healing from her concussion (she has signed up for cross-country ski lessons). Indoors, Karen is looking forward to reviving her art practice, which she had to drop following her concussion. She will also be doing some reading and writing, focussing on interdependence and diversity. Her studies will be supplemented by a workshop with Anima Leadership, a leading Canadian company in the field of diversity and inclusion.

What will the congregation be doing in Rev. Karen’s absence?

A one-month sabbatical is short enough that it was felt that it was not necessary to hire a sabbatical minister or create a special sabbatical teamwork . Instead, plans have been made for lay leadership to take responsibility for any gaps left by Karen’s absence.

Sunday Services has been aware of this sabbatical month since late spring last year. Thanks to Liz James, Sunday Services Coordinator, and all the service leaders who said “yes,” the month of February is filled with some very special lay-led services — watch the weekly email: you have some great services coming up!

Mary Moody and Larry Grenkow, your Compassion bank Co-coordinators, are prepared for any extra pastoral care calls during this time. They are available to coordinate cards, visits, casseroles, as usual. They are also authorized to make the decision to phone Rev. Karen in the case of an emergency or tragedy requiring her attention. So if you aren’t sure who should be responding to a pastoral concern — call Mary or Larry, and they will help you figure it out.For other congregational areas or concerns, Cori Smithen, President, and Sean Sass, Committee on Shared Ministry Chair, are both available to respond to questions. They are happy to help you figure out who might be able to help you or what should happen in Karen’s absence.

There are some situations that might need a minister’s response. There are are four people who Rev. Karen will take calls or texts from in case of emergencies:

Cori Smithen, President
Sean Sass, Chair, Committee on Shared Ministry
Larry Grenkow, Co-Coordinator, Compassion Bank
Mary Moody, Co-Coordinator, Compassion Bank

If you are wondering whether the minister should be contacted, please get in touch with one of these four people, they will be happy to help you figure out how to proceed.  (for emails or phone numbers, contact our Administrator, tessera

Wishing you a fabulous February,

Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz
Cori Smithen, President
Sean Sass, Chair, Committee on Shared Ministry
Larry Grenkow, Co-Coordinator, Compassion Bank

Mary Moody, Co-Coordinator, Compassion Bank

Rev. Karen’s Sabbatical Bank … for the detail-inclined:

Following standard Unitarian Universalist practice, Rev. Karen has accrued three months of sabbatical since becoming our settled minister in August of 2016, one month for every year of service. Furthermore, as part of our offer to Rev. Karen when we asked her to become our settled minister, the congregation granted her an additional two months of sabbatical time in recognition of her four years of service as our developmental minister. This makes a total of five months credited to her sabbatical bank.

So far, Karen has used only two weeks of her sabbatical time. She had originally requested and received permission to take a three month sabbatical, January – March 2019, but as the date approached, both the Board and Karen agreed that this wasn’t good timing given the decisions that the congregation needed to make that winter/spring (congregations are asked not to make decisions about ministry during a ministers’ sabbatical). That planned sabbatical was postponed, but the Board agreed that Karen should continue with the course she had signed up to take during the proposed sabbatical time, hence the use of two weeks of sabbatical in January of 2019, resulting in the current total of 4.5 months in Rev. Karen’s sabbatical bank.

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