After six years of dedicated service to our congregation, our Minister, Rev. Joan, will take her first sabbatical from July 1st through September 30th. Rev. Joan, the Executive Team, staff and several of the congregation’s teams and committees have been working to be sure that her areas of responsibility will be covered during this time of renewal. The congregation’s strong tradition of mutual care will continue with extra pastoral support available as requested. Our dedicated staff will ensure normal day-to-day operations continue to run smoothly.

Why a Sabbatical?

The ultimate purpose of a sabbatical is for the person to come back refreshed and recharged in mind, body, and spirit by the break from normal responsibilities and the chance to engage in something different. In a ministerial sabbatical, the emphasis is often on spiritual renewal and exploration. As the responsibilities of parish ministry are typically present round-the-clock, a sabbatical is an opportunity to put down the mantle of ministry for a time. Sabbatical leave is part of our congregation’s covenant with Rev. Joan as our Minister. As is usual in letters of agreement between UU congregations and their ministers, Rev. Joan earns one month of sabbatical time per year of service. Our ministry together will benefit as Rev. Joan returns refreshed, filled with new ideas, and with rekindled energy. 

What will Rev. Joan do during her sabbatical?

During her sabbatical, Rev. Joan will rest – physically, mentally, and emotionally. She also intends to re-engage with a few meaningful spiritual practices such as meeting with a Spiritual Director and practicing yoga more regularly. She also has quite a stack of books to read and invites you to join her in a “common read” which will be followed by a discussion when Joan returns from sabbatical. You can find more details here.

How can we contact Rev. Joan?

Rev. Joan’s sabbatical is a time for a complete break from her duties as our minister. She will not be answering her phone, responding to texts, or checking her email. (Email sent to Rev. Joan during this time will remain unread.) Routine matters at the congregation will be handled by the appropriate people as indicated in this guide. In case of emergency, Rev. Joan will be contacted by the Board President or a member of the Executive Team.

Rev. Joan will mostly be home and around Montpelier/central Vermont during sabbatical. You may see her around town at the grocery store or Co-op, local events, and Farmers Market. You do not need to avoid her! Please say hello, and also, in your conversation, please try to respect this break for Rev. Joan from congregational matters.  

Rev. Joan will resume her duties on October 1, 2021.

How can you engage with the ministry of the church during this sabbatical?

Summer Services

Meetings for silent and spoken meditation will be held on Sundays at 10:00 AM, June 20 through September 5 in the Church Vestry.

There will be a short Covid-related form to complete on entering. Following UCM’s Phase 1 reopening guidelines – seating will be limited to 20 people, chairs will be six feet apart, and masks will be required. Windows will be open, with quiet fans. Anyone is welcome to speak at any time. A reading will be provided; the meeting will be open for conversation at 10:45. 

While necessary, we regret the capacity limit and know that hearing will be harder than in earlier years, due to distancing. We’re looking into a portable sound system. We’ll check Vermont’s Covid metrics (case counts, etc.) each Wednesday. If in any week, the metrics aren’t met, we will have services through Zoom, with the link provided by email and in Weekly Announcements.

With questions or comments, or if you wish to be included on the email list, please write to Pat Carstensen; or Peter Thoms; We look forward to seeing you.


Sunday Services beginning September 12

The regular Church Year begins with our first Sunday service of the year on September 12. The Worship Team is still determining the exact format of these services, though we hope to welcome the congregation back to the Sanctuary in accordance with the UCM Guidelines for Reopening. We are investigating options to offer our worship services in a multi-platform format with the congregation joining both in-person and online via a virtual platform, like Zoom, or a live stream. The Worship Team will begin planning out these details in mid-August. If you have questions, ideas, or concerns about our worship reopening plans before then, please email


Pastoral Care

One of the strengths of this congregation is how we care for one another. That practice of caring for one another will continue during Rev. Joan’s sabbatical. The Lay Pastoral Care Ministry Team will be available throughout the summer and into September as we begin the new church year. Our Ministerial Intern, Verdis L. Robinson, will also be available for direct pastoral care support through the end of August as part of his Clinical Pastoral Education program (a program separate from his internship). Verdis will be coordinating pastoral care requests along with Lay Pastoral Care Coordinator, Mary Jane Ohlson. In addition, we have two retired UU ministers in our congregation, Liz Benjamin and Johanna Nichols, who will be available for pastoral care support, especially in situations of critical need, death, and rites of passage.

To request pastoral care support during the months of July & August, you can contact Verdis Robinson by phone at 802-522-6406 or email at To request pastoral care support during the month of September, you can contact Mary Jane Ohlson by phone at 802-522-3705 or email at

Requests for meals, rides, etc., can be directed to the UCM Caring Network. Requests for financial assistance through the UCM Care Fund can be directed to the UCM Executive Team by calling the church office and leaving a message with the Church Administrator or sending an email to


UCM Choir

Beginning on July 1, Donia Prince will be joining the UCM staff as our Acting Director of Music. The UCM Choir will be gathering over the summer months and into the new church year. If you are interested in joining the UCM Choir, you can contact Donia here.

Lifespan Spiritual Exploration

The LSE Committee is offering a few opportunities for families and LSE volunteers to gather together in June, July, and August. Please check the e-news for more details. The LSE Committee will be reaching out to families and volunteers for your feedback in putting together LSE programming for the fall in alignment with our building opening plans and Covid-safety guidelines. With the start of the new church year in September, the LSE Committee plans to offer a variety of Chalice Circles for adults and other spiritual exploration programs. You are welcome to contact LSE Committee Chair, Beth Merrill, for more information.

You can also join Rev. Joan for her Sabbatical Common Read. Find more details here.

Membership & Hospitality

The Membership & Hospitality Committee will host an Ice Cream Social at the North Branch Nature Center on Sunday, September 12th after the Sunday service. All are invited to attend to welcome in the new church year and connect with new and old friends.

If you are new to our community and would like to learn more about the Church, you can contact our Congregational Life Coordinator, Elaine Ball.

Start on our UCM Welcome page to learn more about our congregation.

Sign up to receive the weekly e-newsletter here.

Who Do I Contact When I Have a Question?

Visit the pages linked below for more information about UCM’s paid and volunteer leadership:

Governing Board

Executive Team


Committees and Teams

Covid-19 Response Task Force