NJ Leadership Leaves Program

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The Leadership Leaves program is a cooperative sabbatical program for Unitarian Universalist religious professionals in New Jersey. Beginning in 1967, with leadership from the Princeton Unitarian Church and the active participation of other societies, the idea behind the Leadership Leaves Program was developed. The goal was to establish shared coverage to its member congregations when a minister goes on sabbatical leave. Such a program, it was felt, would serve both congregations and ministers by providing effective and rewarding sabbatical leaves. For questions about this program please contact LeadershipLeaves@gmail.com.

Member congregations of the Leadership Leaves Program covenant together to:

  • Organize and maintain a Leadership Council to administer the program and develop a body of information on the care and management of sabbatical leaves.

  • Provide coverage for two Sunday mornings per month during the period of time that the Parish Minister is on leave, as well as coverage of pastoral responsibilities such as memorial services, weddings, child dedications and crisis counseling.

  • Provide funds through an assessment system, to support the additional expenses of the congregation and provide a stipend to the religious professional on sabbatical to be used to deepen and enrich the experience.

The Leadership Leaves Program has several goals:

  • To support professional development among our full time religious professionals;
  • To assist in religious professionals' involvement in both the denomination and the larger society;
  • To provide a successful sabbatical experience which allows for travel, time to read and reflect, and find meaningful ways to "refuel";
  • To promote interdependence among congregations;
  • To support lay leadership development;
  • To make full time professional leadership more attractive to religious professionals;
  • To lengthen the productive tenure of full time religious professionals.

The Leadership Leaves Program (LLP) is administered by the Leadership Leaves Council (LLC), which meets twice a year (Fall and Spring) at the home church of one of the participating congregations. The membership of the Council is composed of two lay and participating religious professional delegates from each participating congregation.

Congregations agree to participate by signing an annual declaration to contribute a monetary assessment and also provide one month of coverage support for another congregation’s sabbatical. In return, the congregation earns monetary and coverage support for 1 month of sabbatical to be used in future years. The monetary assessment is 1% of the congregation’s operating budget, up to a limit set by the Council. These assessments build a reserve enabling the Leadership Leaves Program to provide funds set by the Council for each congregation when its leader goes on sabbatical.

When a congregation receives a disbursement, it agrees to pay three-quarters of the amount to its religious professional for sabbatical expenses and to retain one-quarter of the amount for use by the congregation to help provide Sunday morning leadership.

Participating Congregations:

For questions about this program please contact LeadershipLeaves@gmail.com.