Hi folks,

I have been away from this for a bit.  I have been wrapping up my sabbatical leave, getting ready to re-enter church life and participating in Canadian Unitarian Council and UU Ministers of Canada meetings.  All of this was very rich as I have several post ideas stored up, and look forward to sharing what happens when I actually get to try some of these ideas out.

But today I want to share with you a few words I offered the  members and friends of the Unitarian Church of Edmonton this morning in my first service back:

Dear Friends,

The sermon today is a sort of “What I did on my sabbatical” thing, sharing some of the learnings and ideas I encountered.  But before I get into that I have a few personal things to say:

First, thank you.  Thank you for being the mature organization you are.  This institution understands the place this kind of leave has in building a stronger ministry, but also in building a more confident congregation.  In some places sabbaticals are met with anxiety in all camps.  Not here.  Our leaders looked forward to my time away almost as much as I did.  Fortunately, I have a big enough ego to not be made nervous by that!

I want to congratulate those leaders who stepped up to ensure quality worship and music, quality child and youth programs, quality community activities, another successful garage sale, quality justice work and quality caring.  From a distance, it all seemed effortless and very healthy.

I want to thank you for the time away.  I learned a lot and look forward to trying out some of what I learned.  Phase two, if you will, is the laboratory trials.  I have spoken with Worship Chair John Pater and will soon meet with the committee.  It is my hope that once a month or so, we will use one service to experiment. We will try some of new ideas that integrate technology into congregational life.  But don’t worry, they really will be experiments.  We will be trying to see what works and what changes sit well with folks.  The great phrase in the tech world is “It’s all Beta”, Beta being the testing phase of new software.  Lots of ideas get tried and the successful ones are pursued.  I hope you will be willing to take part and to provide feedback.

I also want to thank you all for the respectful distance… I find myself returning today centered and settled, eager to become engaged in the life of the congregation and ready to take up my work again with energy and purpose.  I really want to see where we go together in the next few years.  And isn’t that what a sabbatical is meant to do?

So thank you for your continuing support for my ministry and your friendship towards me.  I have just spent a week with my Canadian colleagues and I can honestly say that more than a few of them envy me this pulpit.  Whatever I achieve here and in the wider Unitarian Universalist world happens because you make me look good.