Sabbatical Ministry

Fall 2017 Sabbatical Leadership

Beginning September 1, 2017 our pastor, Rev. Elissa C. Johnk, will be away on Sabbatical for 3 months, returning December 3, 2017.   

According to the Alban Institute in Washington, D.C, this time is meant to be a time of renewal and opportunity for all of us!  Indeed, during the course of their research, the Alban Institute found that real opportunities for renewed life in a church occur during the time of flux while a pastor is away. As the UCC puts it: "as in many biblical examples, God is at work when we least expect it."  

The most important work of any pastor is, in fact, to make themselves unnecessary - to shepherd a flock until they no longer see themselves as sheep, but as shepherds themselves. As we are a church that believes strongly in the Priesthood of All Believers (that includes you!) this is a time when for us to rediscover our own ministerial gifts and strengths.  Because of this, as an entire church, we are very excited about this time of sabbatical, and we will be using it as a time of rest, renewal, and joyful experimentation. 

If you have any questions about this Sabbatical time, you are encouraged to contact Theresa, or any member of our Sabbatical Support Committee: Timothy Shea, David Connor and Louise Rauh.

Sabbatical Ministry Team:

Theresa Lever, Worship Coordinator 
Theresa is a member of Bethany UCC in Montpelier and is active in the Vermont Conference UCC's Department of Mission.  She has a special interest in issues of justice and peace, participates in advocacy for low-income Vermonters, and leads Bethany's longstanding sister relationship with a community in El Salvador.  Theresa has led worship here before, and we are grateful to have her back with us during the time Elissa is away! 

Theresa will be leading worship twice a month, and resourcing our committee members for their own leadership the other weeks.  

You may email her at

David Connor, Pastor Emeritus
David, a native of upstate New York, was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1964.  He spent 25 years as a pastor, a college chaplain (Cornell University), an educator, and a pastoral counselor, mostly in Ithaca, NY.  In 1991, he, his wife, Ann Stanton, and their children moved to East Montpelier Center.  He was co-director of the Lamoille Family Center in Morrisville, and served as Co- and Associate Pastor of The Old Meeting House from 1997-2014.  

David will be providing Pastoral leadership the first Sunday each month, and providing his guidance and wisdom to Theresa and all our lay leaders during Elissa's absence.

You can email David at

Louise Rauh, Congregational Care Minister and Moderator
Louise is a graduate of Trinity College and Antioch New England, with a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Counseling, and a Level 1 Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education.  Since 1994 she has worked with Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice a as a palliative care counselor and Bereavement and Caregiver Group facilitator.  Currently she serves on the board of Upper Valley Services, a non-profit organization serving those with developmental delays.  She has served as our Moderator since 2016, and is a founding member of our Congregational Care Ministry Team.  

During Elissa's absence, Louise will serve as the primary contact person for any pressing pastoral concerns you might have, as well as the liaison to our other Congregational Care Ministers, listed below.  (Don't know what a Congregational Care Minister is?  Check this out!)  

You can email Louise at  

In order for Theresa, Louise, and David to serve us faithfully, we have covenanted - as an entire church - to communicate with them effectively, make them aware of our needs, support one another, and pray for our Sabbatical Ministry.

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