Rev. Joan’s Upcoming Sabbatical Leave

Dear ones,

In just about three weeks I will be on a plane headed for the Philippines. This sabbatical time will be a chance for me to fulfill a long hoped-for trip to my ancestral homeland, the place where both my parents, and many generations before them, were born and raised. This trip was originally planned for May of 2020, and we all know what happened that year!

In some ways it feels strange to leave you as our church year really gears up, especially after the frenzy of flood clean up and recovery which still continues, and all the hustle and bustle of the holidays begin. I also think this is a good time to step away as familiar and adept as you are with the rhythms and routines of the holiday season in our church community.

I also have great confidence in our staff, Executive Team, Board, committee chairs, worship team, pastoral caregivers, and all you leaders and volunteers to continue fulfilling the mission of our congregation with skill, grace, care, and compassion.

My time away from UCM’s pulpit begins December 3 as I travel to Rochester for the ordination of Verdis LeVar Robinson, our former ministerial intern. I depart for the Philippines on December 10 and return January 12. I will return to the pulpit to lead worship on January 21. Worship services during this period will be led by a combination of staff, guest preachers, and our Worship & Arts Committee. 

For three of those Sundays as well as Christmas Eve, we welcome the Rev. Dr. Mellen Kennedy to lead worship. Rev. Mellen is a Universalist Minister and a Sufi Cheraga. She served the Springfield Meetinghouse until retiring recently from UU parish ministry. Mellen is the founder of Interfaith Bridge and lives in Lincoln, Vermont. She will lead worship on December 10, 17, 24 (evening service), and January 14.

Our Lay Pastoral Care Ministry team will be available during my sabbatical to provide confidential, compassionate listening for any of you facing challenges or losses or needing a listening ear for any reason. Please contact LPCM coordinators, Mary Jane Ohlson or Ruth Witte to request support from one of our caregivers.

For any questions regarding space use, pledging, or other financial matters, please continue to contact Emily Seifert or Sierra Lowell. For any questions about membership or communications, please contact Elaine Ball. For other matters relating to the day-to-day operations of the church, you can contact the Executive Team at

I hope to return to you in mid-January renewed, reconnected, and ready for the vital ministry we will continue to offer one another and our community in the months ahead.

With love,

Rev. Joan