This will be my last Heirloom column until late summer. I will be taking a six-month sabbatical beginning February 1 – a leave of absence from my Heritage Church ministerial duties that will allow me to focus time and attention to the startup of our Heritage Acres natural burial sanctuary. By the time I return to church work in August, Heritage Acres will be open for business.
This will be my third sabbatical since coming to Heritage in 2002, but the first that is taking the form of what our Board and I are calling a “hybrid sabbatical” – one in which I will continue to work on a major project that will benefit the church, as well as the wider Cincinnati community. As many of you know, green burial has been a passion of mine for years, and I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I realize that we – this church community – have created the Tri-State Region’s first fully dedicated green burial ground, right here on the east side of Cincinnati. I am deeply grateful for this congregation’s support of, and commitment to, the work that we are doing to change the way people think about death and dying – through Heritage Acres, through our amazing End-of-Life Ministry Team, through Death Café Cincinnati, and more.
Since this upcoming sabbatical is a bit “different,” I want to explain several things about our plan. Because I will be working on getting Heritage Acres up and running, I will still be communicating and interacting with numerous members of the church during a time (sabbatical) when normally I would not. Several folks on the Heritage Acres Board are HUUC members. The same is true for those in the Heritage Acres Founders Circle, and still others who do volunteer work at Heritage Acres. And of course, when we at last have our Grand Opening at 796 Locust Corner Road in Pierce Township, I imagine there will be lots of you in attendance. So I will be seeing, and working with, many folks from Heritage during this “hybrid sabbatical.”
I also will be performing a couple of already-scheduled weddings for Heritage Church members during the six months I am out of the pulpit and away from church. (Lest I fall prey to “scope creep,” however, I will not schedule any other weddings until after early August.)
Otherwise, the boundaries of this sabbatical will be similar to those in the past: I won’t be looking at, or responding to, church emails or phone calls, and I won’t be following what’s going on in the life of the church. I will be unavailable for ministerial duties except in the direst of circumstances (Rev. Leslie Woodward will be your go-to minister). To learn more about the sabbatical, read the 2020 Senior Minister Sabbatical document elsewhere in this newsletter.
While there remains much work to do – particularly in terms of infrastructure and logistics – before we can declare Heritage Acres “open,” do not worry that I will be working too hard! I plan to allow myself plenty of time for rest and renewal – as it should be, during a sabbatical. And, I will be doing some traveling (definitely to the Pacific Northwest, and perhaps even out of the country). I may even spend some time living the life in an RV!
I hope to see you throughout January, and then will look forward to seeing most of you again in August. In the meantime – Happy New Year, and may 2020 be a year of positive change in our lives, and in our world.