This is my last newsletter column of this congregational year. From January 15-June 15, Stacie, Ailish, and I will be living in Bessels Green, England, while I am on sabbatical. At the congregational town halls last month, I had a chance to answer practical questions about the sabbatical: I will not be checking my firstname.lastname@example.org email while I am away, nor do I plan to spend the last two weeks of June reading through five months of emails. If you have questions, or worries, or ideas while I am gone, we have put together a document, on the church website, with a contact for each area of the church I am involved in.
The town halls were also a chance to ask more open-ended questions. A few people have asked what I am most looking forward to during the sabbatical, and I have often answered “sleep.” I am looking forward to that, and plan to do little else the first two weeks. But more than rest, a sabbatical is also a chance to reflect on ministry. The first six years I have spent with the Unitarian Church of Lincoln have been defined by three big questions: How can we grow? How can we partner? How can we respond to the Covid-19 pandemic? While in England, I plan to reflect on those questions: are they still the central questions of our ministry in Lincoln? What questions might define the next six or seven years at UCL? This is not just a question for me, it is a question for the whole congregation. Over the next five months, the Board of Trustees is meeting twice a month, once to manage the business of the church, and again to brainstorm and think big about the future.
Last week Linda Brown told me again that the lesson she thinks I have taught this congregation is that imperfection is okay. We are a group of people practicing being human together, and that means that we, collectively, will be messy, imperfect, and glorious – not despite the imperfection, but because of it. If that is the lesson we have learned together over the last five and a half years, then this is the time to embrace it. It is likely that some things will go wrong during the sabbatical. It is likely that at least once, I’ll manage to get myself well and truly lost somewhere in England. My hope, for both the congregation and my family, is that when that happens we pause, laugh at ourselves, and then go forward in joy.
See you in June!
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.