Sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a hiatus, for enrichment and renewal.

Congregations in the United Church of Christ and many other denominations provide sabbatical leave for their pastors in order to offer time for spiritual renewal and theological study. Although the pastor should be involved in study and enrichment all the time, the responsibilities of worship preparation, preaching, pastoral care, and administration often push the pastor’s own spiritual needs to the background. Pastors are also “on call” most of the time, which can be draining. It is vital, not only to the pastor but to the entire congregation, that the pastor receive dedicated time away for his or her spiritual well being and professional development.

The Louisville Institute’s clergy sabbatical program has this to say: “When clergy have opportunity for learning, growth, and recreation, they also learn the habits and practices that sustain them in and for meaningful ministry. During a season of personal renewal, study, and reflection pastoral leaders embrace the gifts of time and Sabbath for their lives and ministries. As they are renewed and strengthened so are their families, and so is the Church.”


From Our Pastor

Dear members and friends of First Congregational Church,

Thank you so much for this gift of sabbatical. Although the conferences of our denomination all recommend that churches provide their pastors with sabbatical time, not all churches do. The fact that this church has been offering sabbatical time for many years attests to your generosity toward your pastors.

It will feel very strange to be out of contact with you all. I will miss knowing what’s going on in your lives and sharing with you what is happening in mine. I will miss our shared worship and even the meetings that keep us connected. At the same time, I am looking forward to some quiet time, time for reflection, as well as inspirational time at conferences. And of course I’ll be taking a little bit of summer vacation with my family as well.

Although I will not be worshiping with you, I will be in worship. I will visit other congregations, filling my spirit from a variety of wells. I encourage you to be in worship also. Summer is a slow time in terms of church responsibilities, but we still need the strength that comes from gathering together in worship—praying, singing, and focusing on the mystery of God. Plus, your fellow church members will be speaking and they need your support. So I ask you to commit to being faithful in your attendance and giving so that the ministry of the church will continue.

You will be in my thoughts and prayers while I am away. I will take the church directory with me on my travels and will pray for every one of you by name. I will lift you to God and trust you to God’s care. And I will return rejuvenated for the exciting ministry God has in store for us in the days to come.

Peace and Blessings,



SABBATICAL Q & A         

How long is sabbatical?

Sabbatical agreements vary by church, but typically they are given after four to six years of service. Our agreement with our senior pastor is for a three-month sabbatical after every five years of service.


Has our senior pastor been here five years already?

Not quite. Her anniversary date is in November, but obviously that is not a good time of year for our senior pastor to be away. We agreed when we called her that her first sabbatical could take place the summer before her 5th anniversary so that it would occur at a better time for the church, but without her needing to work nine years between sabbaticals. (Her last sabbatical with her former church was 3 years before she came to us, so 8 years ago now). To balance her getting sabbatical a few months early this time, her next sabbatical will be offered after her 10th anniversary, meaning a six year gap between the two.


Does the pastor get paid during sabbatical?

Yes. The concept of sabbatical implies that the person is paid for this time away; otherwise pastors could not afford to take sabbatical.


Is this merely an extended vacation?

No. There is certainly time for rest, and the pastor may add vacation time to the sabbatical period, but sabbatical is for spiritual renewal and rejuvenation.


Who does the pastor’s job while she is away?

A variety of people will be filling different roles. Members of our congregation will take turns preaching. Jill Saxby will be our worship coordinator. Bob Morse will be available for funerals, and Peter Foss will handle hospital and homebound visitation.


Will the pastor still be around and available to me?

Yes and no. Our pastor’s plan includes some travel so she will be in and out of town throughout the summer. However, she is not available either professionally or personally. Sabbatical time is a release from all responsibilities, particularly the care of the congregation. If the pastor maintains contact, she will naturally be involved in ministry and will not get the rest she needs. However, if you see her at the grocery store, you don’t need to hide! Feel free to say hello!


But what if I have an emergency?

If you are in the hospital or need other care, call the church office on weekday mornings to let us know. Basic administrative questions can be addressed to our business manager, Nancy Irving. For other church-related matters contact our Moderator, Ron Bennett. He will take concerns to the Ministry Council as needed. If a large crisis   arrives in the life of the church, Ron and Nancy will make the decision together whether our senior pastor is to be called.


What will our pastor be doing with her sabbatical?

Cindy will be attending two conferences and participating in two retreats, plus worshiping in a variety of churches and catching up on reading. She also will be working on a Dream Initiative project that she hasn’t had time during her regular schedule to complete.


Will our pastor definitely be coming back?

Absolutely. The Terms of Call for our senior pastor state an expectation that the pastor will continue in the role for at least one year after returning.


What are the dates of our pastor’s sabbatical?

Pastor Cindy’s sabbatical will begin on May 14. She will return to the office on August 28, which is three months of sabbatical and two weeks of vacation.


Will we hear about her sabbatical when she returns?

We will hear all about our pastor’s sabbatical during worship on her first Sunday back.




Mission Mall Now Online

We did it! Thanks to our webmaster, Aaron Scifres, The Mission Mall, its catalog, cards, inserts and the ability to donate are now all ONLINE! It’s now possible to give anytime, anywhere–in the church office, at the Bazaar, by mail, or online.

You can check out the online Mission Mall on the church website by clicking here. Just in time for the Holly Daze Bazaar! See you there!

Senior Activities

Thursday, May 17. Please join us to plan future activities.

Thursday, May 24—The first picnic of the season! We will meet at the church at 11:30 a.m. to go to Two Lights State Park.  Bring your lunch AND your shovels to remove the snow from the picnic tables!

SAM also has a monthly newsletter that highlights our activities for those over 55 years old. If you would like  to be on our mailing list, just call  the office  (799.3361).




A New Addition to Our Ministry Team

Last year we began the process of establishing a new ministry model for our church. Instead of calling another full-time associate pastor, we chose to divide the responsibilities into two part-time positions. Last summer we hired Anne Fuehrer as our Director of Children & Family Ministries. Now the Council has approved the creation of a new position: Pastor of Member Care and Visitation. This person will share with me the responsibilities of making hospital visits and calling on our homebound members, plus will oversee our lay visitation program. This is a part-time position, starting at 10 hours per week and increasing to 15 hours in a few months. Because this is a new staffing model, we will have a trial period to make sure it is what we need in the life of our congregation at this time.

We are blessed to have Rev. Bob Morse, a member of our congregation, taking on this role. For those of you who don’t know Bob, he is a retired minister, serving most recently as the Director of Pastoral Services at Maine Medical Center. The members of Council and I are all confident that Bob will be a wonderful addition to our team.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or Peggy Murray, our Moderator. And please welcome Bob to this new ministry among us. –Cindy Maddox

Consecration Sunday is October 27th

Now is the time to share your Surprising Gifts! You have heard from the Stewardship Committee over the last few weeks, in worship and in letters. You’ve heard from other folks as well— a longtime member, a new member, and one “in between” and how each one related to our theme of Surprising Gifts / New Beginnings and why each will continue to support the work of the church by making financial contributions. Now is the time to join them and experience the excitement and power of the many. As we’ve said, no pledge is too small and each one will be warmly embraced.

Here’s how to join in the fun— prayerfully, faithfully, and joyfully consider your blessings as you make your pledge for 2014. Then bring your pledge card with you and join us on Consecration Sunday, October 27, for worship at 8:30 or 10:00a.m. where we will celebrate the blessings in our lives and faithfully commit to the future by placing those pledge cards into the offering plates. Or, if it is more convenient for you, you may make your pledge online by clicking here.

In gratitude,
Chris Keiter, Jayne Sawtelle Quinn, Jerry Reynolds, Dan Cummings, Bill Campbell, and Diane Harvey
Your 2013-14 Stewardship Committee

Help others find our church!

These days, many people search for places on the internet before they go to them in person.  When they look through the results of an internet search,  they often use ratings and reviews to decide what to do.  However, there are only a few reviews of our church online.  You can help people find out about our wonderful church by adding a review of your own.  Here are a  couple of suggestions:

* Go to google.com

* Enter ‘first congregational church ucc south portland maine’

* Select the option to write a review.  You may need to log in with a GMail account.

* Repeat the process with yelp.com

Thanks for your help in spreading the word about our church!

Chris Keiter