We have a Ministerial Agreement with Rev. Karen. What is in our UUFNN Ministerial Agreement?

Ministerial Agreement – as UUs, we have a covenantal agreement with our minister. It functions like a contract, but is covenantal more than legally-binding, and is our agreement of how we will work together. Our agreement with Rev. Karen covers the scope of her ministry, how she will be compensated and our collective understanding of her work and life balance.

Rev. Karen’s Ministerial Agreement calls for 4 weeks of study leave and 5 weeks of vacation leave annually. Rev. Karen usually takes 3-4 weeks during the church year and the balance in the summer. It works well for UUFNN, if she is away during the summer and for her to have an extended period away. This is a typical arrangement in UU congregations.

Our Ministerial Agreement calls for Rev. Karen to take one weekend off per month, which she tries to do this but doesn’t always.

What is a sabbatical?  

“The Minister may use sabbatical leave for study, education, writing, meditation, and other forms of professional, religious, spiritual, or personal growth. Sabbatical is paid leave to rejuvenate and restore for the task of ministering a congregation. A minister taking a sabbatical agrees to stay with the congregation for at least one year following a sabbatical.” (Source: UUA/UUMA RECOMMENDED MINISTERIAL AGREEMENT FOR FULL-TIME SENIOR/LEAD/SOLO1 MINISTRIES, section 4.12.1) Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Association (UUMA)

UUA/UUMA guidelines state that ministers earn one month for each year of service and can accrue a maximum of 6 months.

Why are sabbaticals important?

Sabbaticals are a time for rejuvenation, reflection and refreshing. The best tool that we have for ministerial longevity is sabbatical. Congregations benefit from ministerial sabbatical leaves as a minister can experience growth, renewed energy and creativity, a deeper understanding and renewal of commitment, which is then shared with the congregation. The congregation can grow and deepen in different ways while the Minister is away.

What is the purpose of a sabbatical?

The best tool that we have for ministerial longevity is sabbatical. Sabbaticals provide time for a minister to “unplug” and do some focused studying, writing, reading or other forms of professional, religious, spiritual or personal growth. Sabbaticals leave is a tradition for UU and other clergy. It offers an opportunity for rest, renewal and rejuvenation, and reflection —all ingredients for productive ministry. it is part of our congregation’s covenant with our minister. It allows the congregation to step up differently and reconfigure a bit.

When is Rev. Karen eligible for a sabbatical?

Rev. Karen was eligible for 4 months of paid sabbatical leave starting in the spring of 2020, 5 months in 2021. Although she was scheduled to take a full sabbatical in 2021, this has been deferred due to COVID and her commitment to our congregation. The Board of Trustees has recommended that Rev. Karen take a one-month mini-sabbatical at this time, with the balance to be determined in the future.

What is a typical number of days/hours that Rev. Karen works?

During the church year Rev. Karen works 6 days per week, per our Ministerial agreement, taking Mondays off. This is a grueling schedule, which often calls for her to work 10-12 hour days well into the evening. Again, having the summertime off helps balance this.

Our Ministerial Agreement calls for Rev. Karen to take one weekend off per month. She tries to do this but doesn’t always.

Many holidays fall on Mondays, her day off. She typically does not take an additional day off for the holiday. Working one less day during a holiday work doesn’t allow her to complete her regular duties.

What activities are included in Rev. Karen’s “typical” work week?

Rev. Karen’s duties over the course of a month include:planning, coordinating, and leading Sunday services;

attending and participating in congregational committee and team meetings including board meetings;

supervising the UUFNN staff team;

responding to emails, phone calls and text messages from congregants and others;

attending to pastoral care and counseling needs of our congregants;

 writing column for RGJ;

working with UUFNN staff to plan themes, activities and opportunities for congregants to grow spiritually and participate in social justice;

 communicating with colleagues;

 supporting UUA efforts;

social justice work in the community such as ACTIONN;

representing UUFNN and Unitarian Universalist values in our community, and more.

UUFNN is a shared governance congregation. What does that mean?

UUFNN and other UU congregations are “managed” by members and the minister. The minister is not the head of the congregation, but a team member along with various committees, including the Board of Trustees. We all work together to meet the mission and vision of UUFNN.

How has COVID impacted Rev. Karen’s work week and responsibilities?

What hasn’t been impacted by COVID?Karen’s workload has increased by the stress produced from our current times.

 She and others are spending more time preparing for Sunday services.

 Holding all of us, our health and our community is exhausting.

We need to give Rev. Karen some time to rest and restore.

Beginning in March, there was a steep learning curve to move all of our services and programming online and close the building. Much has been learned.

 She has led a great team who provide meaningful connections for us.

 As so much has moved to online and zoom, everything that UUFNN offers has had to change.

Careful consideration has been taken to find meaningful, safe opportunities for connection.

Why take a mini-sabbatical now?

As you might imagine, the past months have been difficult for everyone, and as Rev. Karen holds all of us in her heart and mind, she needs some time to rejuvenate and refresh to help us as we all continue to navigate COVID and the coming year. We likely have a few more months ahead of staying safe, distanced, healthy, and living in this new way of life. Rev. Karen needs some time to rest and rejuvenate.

How long will Rev. Karen be on a mini-sabbatical?

Rev. Karen will take one month mini-sabbatical beginning June 4th, and then take her usual few weeks of vacation in July.

What will happen if I have a pastoral need while Rev. Karen is on sabbatical?

Pastoral care will be covered by our pastoral associates team. You will still call 851-7100 ext. 4. We all take care of each other, during COVID and other times, whether Rev. Karen is here or not. That’s who we are – a community. Reach out if you need help. Check on others to see how they’re doing.

Who will do the Sunday service while Rev. Karen is on sabbatical?

Rev. Karen is working with the Worship Associates, Bill Quinby, our DLRE, Kristin Famula, and others to have meaningful Sunday services. Interesting and exciting worship services are planned, see our weekly email for details of upcoming services.

How can we support Rev. Karen, our staff and our congregation during this important time?

We can all continue to attend services and other UUFNN offerings, volunteer as needed, and continue your generous financial support. You can check with the Caring Committee for meals needed, transportation needed, and calling other members and friends (Linda Hanson at; help grounds committee by keeping our campus looking good (Bob Quilitch at; help others with tech support to connect to the service (Philip Moore at; help post or take down the Black Lives Matter sign (Jackie Reilly at; help the Posse feed our hungry neighbors (Jane Dunn at posse@uufnn.,org ). There is also a list of volunteer needs in our weekly email.