Our Minister, the Rev. Matthew McHale, will be on Sabbatical from December 26, 2021 to May 25, 2022.


A sabbatical is an extended period of leave from one’s usual work, especially for rest or renewal. The term shares the same roots as the Shabbat or Sabbath, traditionally a day of rest, as well as the practice of letting fields lay fallow for a season so that rejuvenation of the land can take place.

Unitarian Universalist congregations frequently grant their ministers a sabbatical period with full pay in recognition of their difficult and consuming work. The result is a renewal of the ministers’ outlook, new directions of thought and growth of vision. As part of his serving agreement, and as recommended by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the UU Minister’s Association, Rev. Matthew accrues one month of sabbatical leave for each year served, not to exceed six months, to be taken after the four but before seven years of service. (The current 2021-22 year is his sixth year.)


Church life will continue. Emerson will have a Sabbatical Minister who will lead worship, provide administrative and pastoral support, and help keep things running smoothly during the sabbatical.

Joshua Berg will serve as Emerson’s Sabbatical Minister. Joshua has passed the UUA Fellowship Committee. He finishes his coursework at Meadville Lombard Theological School this December, and will officially graduate in the Spring.


Matthew’s sabbatical will be a complete break from their duties as ministers, and he will not be available for direct communication from members. He will be notified of emergencies by the Sabbatical Minister or Board President. If you see him around town, you may certainly greet him, however please refrain from discussing church business.


During the sabbatical, Sunday services will prove to be very stimulating, with an opportunity to hear from multiple perspectives during this time! Our sabbatical minister will be leading services two Sundays per month. We will also have several UU ministers in our pulpit. We have several lay-led services, like our annual Fire Communion to mark the new year and our Memorial Day service, plus a handful of services where lay leaders will be preaching. And our Worship Associates and Tech Associates will continue to make sure that our Sunday Services continue to run smoothly each week.


Pastoral Care will continue to be provided by our Pastoral Care team: Heather Medvitz, Pam Randall and Pat Lindenauer, working with Sabbatical Minister Joshua Berg.

For someone to talk to, please email our Pastoral Care Team at pastoralcare@emersonuuc.org


Joshua Berg will perform weddings, funerals and memorial services free of charge for members. Please contact Church Administrator Deborah Posner, who will help make the arrangements.

Non-members may arrange with Joshua to officiate at his standard rate.


The Sabbatical Team, Rev. Matthew, and the staff have been working together to assure that church operations will continue to function smoothly in Rev. Matthew’s absence. Questions about the church office or operations should be directed to Office Administrator Deborah Posner.


The sabbatical team will meet on a regular basis to hear reports from each member regarding their area of responsibility and discuss issues that arise and recommend support that is needed.

The Sabbatical Team are Clinton Bench, Lynne Masuhara, Linda Morris, Louise Rovner, Susan Siskin, & Deborah Posner, Office Administrator, ex officio.

The sabbatical team members have areas of responsibility they will be looking after:

  • Administration (Board and Managers; Nominating Committee; Communications; Finance; Buildings and Grounds) – Clinton Bench & Lynne Masuhara
  • Lay Ministries (Pastoral Care; Small Group Ministries; Membership; Widening the Circle/8th Principle Task Force; Environmental Justice Ministry; Elders’ Circle) – Linda Morris & Louise Rovner
  • Worship & Music (Worship Associates; Music; Tech Associates) – Susan Siskin