All About Rev. Karen’s Sabbatical Leave

January 1 through April 30, 2024

What is a sabbatical?

Sabbatical leave is traditional for UU clergy and is part of our letter of agreement with Rev. Karen, which says she may take a month of leave for every year she works.  This is her ninth year serving JRUUC(!), and four years have passed since her last sabbatical, so she’s taking four months.

Sabbatical is a time of study, reflection, rest, and renewal – all ingredients for effective ministry.  The congregation will benefit as Rev. Karen returns with new ideas and rekindled energy.  Sabbatical also offers the congregation the chance to stretch into areas of ministry usually filled by Rev. Karen, affirming that we can thrive even in the minister’s absence.

What will Rev. Karen do during her sabbatical leave?

Renew!  Reflect!  Learn!

Rev. Karen will travel to Anchorage, Alaska with her teenager in early January, to explore the city that will be her teenager’s college home for the next few years.  When she returns to Madison, she will rest, giving over the control of her schedule to the needs of her body and spirit.  She will spend time with her loved ones, read novels, do crosswords, color, expand her yoga practice, walk in nature, and sleep!  In March, she’ll visit chosen family in Kentucky, and watch the buds break and the hillsides turn green in her beloved woods.  In April, she’ll travel to several UU congregations who are thriving in these challenging times to learn about what they’re doing, and then spend some time on the west coast with dear friends and colleagues.

When her sabbatical ends in May, Rev. Karen will return to us with new energy – eager to hear what we have learned and done during her time away, and ready to re-enter her ministry with us.

Who should I contact when I need something?

Office Administrator Danica Hoehn (, and Committee on Shared Ministry member Mary Wagner (click here) – can answer your questions or direct you to the appropriate person to do so.

For questions in the following areas of ministry, please contact these people directly:

  • Pastoral Care or Pastoral Emergencies:  Caring Tree Coordinators Jeanette Clawson and Heike Saynish (click here) – they will contact Rev. Bowie Kling-Garcia if a minister is needed
  • Worship and Music:  Rachel Avery (click here)
  • Membership:  Kelly Kearns (click here)
  • Budget and Pledging:  Deb Myrbo, 
  • Children’s Religious Education:  Genevieve McPherson-Shambarger, Director of Religious Education, 
  • Building availability, calendar, weekly enews, orders of service:  Danica Hoehn,
  • Website:  Susan Podebradsky,

Who is in the pulpit?

Rev. Karen and the Worship Team are excited to bring a wide variety of guest and lay preachers to JRUUC during this sabbatical time! See our Upcoming Services page for the most current information.

DateWorship Leader
January theme: The Gift of Liberating Love
1/7Burning Bowl service with Deb Myrbo
1/14Rev. Bowie Kling-Garcia
1/21Rev. Suzelle Lynch and Brad the Dad
1/28Eva Wingren
February theme: The Gift of Justice and Equity
2/4Kirsten Johnson
2/11Erik Gunn
2/18Rabbi Bonnie Margulis
2/25Rev. Kelly Asprooth-Jackson
March theme: The Gift of Transformation
3/3Rev. Bowie Kling-Garcia
3/10James Morgan, MOSES Organizer
3/17Music Service with Jennifer Hedstrom and Friends
3/23“This I Believe” organized by Deb Myrbo
3/31Multigenerational Fair with Rev. Suzelle Lynch and Genevieve McPherson-Shambarger
April theme: The Gift of Interdependence
4/7Rev. Bowie Kling-Garcia
4/21Rev. Jim Foti
4/28“Spring Cleaning” Service with Susan Podebradsky and Friends
May theme: The Gift of Pluralism
5/5Rev. Karen returns

What should I do if I see Rev. Karen?

Rev. Karen’s sabbatical is a time for a complete break from her duties as our minister.  Should an urgent need arise, those designated to contact her are our Board President Deb Myrbo, and Rev. Bowie Kling-Garcia.

Rev. Karen will be in Madison for a good part of her sabbatical, so you’ll likely see her around.  Please don’t avoid her!  Say hello, enjoy the moment – and talk about anything but JRUUC.