Molly’s Sabbatical, Your Input

Molly is due for sabbatical in summer 2021, and is applying for a Clergy Renewal Grant from the Lilly Foundation. The strongest grants include input from the congregation about the sabbatical plan, with a coherent theme between congregation and pastor. 

Moderator-Elect Sara Woods is helping Molly write the grant application, and we would both love your input! 

In conversation, they have chosen as the theme How to Do Nothing, based on the stunning book by artist, Stanford professor and Oakland resident Jenny Odell. Odell writes: “This book is about how to hold open [a] place in the sun. It is a field guide to doing nothing as an act of political resistance to the attention economy…I want this not only for artists and writers, but for any person who perceives life to be more than an instrument and therefore something that cannot be optimized. 

“A simple refusal motivates my argument: refusal to believe that the present time and place, and the people who are here with us, are somehow not enough. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram act like dams that capitalize on our natural interest in others and an ageless need for community, hijacking and frustrating our most innate desires, and profiting from them. Solitude, observation and simple conviviality should be recognized not only as ends in and of themselves, but inalienable rights belonging to anyone lucky enough to be alive.” 

What would it look like if our church community refused our own busyness and productivity for a summer? How might it draw us closer to God–and to each other? What are we willing to relinquish, and how might we order our life together more simply? Can you imagine not have committee meetings for a season, or a learning hour, or Sunday school, instead welcoming the children to worship every week? Can you imagine together-time in beautiful places that is not heavily programmed, that costs little or nothing in terms of money or human labor: pickup picnics, family camping, botanical garden crawls, “morning watch” time journaling alone/together in an East Bay Park? 

When you think of what it means to resist, not only hypercapitalism and social media as a spiritual practice–but even our own habits of governance, liturgy and productivity–how can we order our life differently for a sabbath season? Beware: we may never go back to the way we used to do it. 

We’d love your responses to any of the above questions, themes or anything else the Spirit says to you regarding this sabbatical idea. The application is due April 1, so we request input by March 15. This isn’t your last chance to offer ideas and reflections on how we will use this time, only for the application phase. Whether or not Molly receives the grant, we will have plenty of time in the year to come to reflect on what we want this time of sabbatical, as a congregation, to be.