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Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson Sabbatical Fund for Religious Professionals

Hope Johnson; chalice; UUSC logo

The 2023 Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson Sabbatical Fund grants have been awarded. Many thanks to everyone who applied this year! Please apply no later than February 29th, 2024 to be considered for the 2024 Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson Sabbatical Fund grants.


In loving memory of the Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, UUSC is establishing a sabbatical fund to provide support to progressive religious professionals interested in deepening their learning and engagement in social justice and human rights

This funding is designed to offer progressive religious professionals, during a sabbatical period or other significant learning time, the opportunity to deepen their connection to justice work within one (or more) of UUSC’s three justice priority areas: migration justice, climate/disaster justice, and international justice and accountability. Candidates can commit to new work, return to projects they’ve put on hold, or take a rest from existing justice work. This Fund offers spaciousness to deepen understanding and practice of equity, justice, and human rights in their justice ministry. Funding awards are $5,000–$10,000 grants to support your human dignity and well-being in these efforts. 


UUSC’s mission is to advance human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. Our work is grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power and dignity.

We focus our work on intersecting roots of injustice to defend rights at risk due to criminalization and systemic oppression of people based on their identity. We support self-determination and defend the rights of people displaced due to climate, conflict, or economic hardships; and we respond to humanitarian crises as partners with people whose access to aid is most limited. UUSC strives to center the voices of people most affected by injustice, creating relationships of accompaniment with frontline grassroots organizations and movements across the world who support communities as they determine the pathways to their future.

UUSC is joyful to be able to offer this nourishing opportunity for religious professionals with a vision of engaging more deeply and sustainably in the work of advancing justice. We are especially honored to recognize the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Hope Johnson, a too soon ancestor whose life was a testimony to the power of radical trust, relentless work for justice, and uncompromising love.


About the Program

In addition to receiving funds, recipients will have access to curated tools and resources online to support their leadership, as well as to encourage rest and reflection throughout sabbatical time. Recipients will also be invited to join regularly scheduled calls with other Fund recipients for community web tending and peer mentorship.

Selection Process

The selection process consists of two rounds:

Round 1: Open Application Period – Candidates are invited to submit a short narrative, a budget, and the names of three community references before the deadline to be considered for the funding program. Incomplete applications and applications received after the deadline cannot be considered for the current funding round.

Round 2: Finalist Interviews – A subset of applicants will be invited to participate in interviews with the review committee. Alongside the interviews, community references will be asked to provide written or oral recommendation. Fund recipients will be selected and notified at the conclusion of all interviews. Interview questions will be shared ahead of the conversation, and there will be an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions. 

How to Apply

Candidates must submit the full application before no later than Thursday, February 29th, 2024. Late submissions cannot be accepted. Please send application materials to: sabbatical@uusc.org.

The application is made up of three sections:

1. Essay/Narrative

Please allow the following questions and invitations to inform your short application narrative. 

  • What drew you to a faith-based profession?
  • How do you describe the relationship between your faith and your justice work?
  • Share your vision of the particular work that connects your passion for faith and justice and how you hope it will unfold with the support of this Fund. Alternatively, describe the justice work you have been engaged in and your hopes for rest.
  • How do you describe what drew you to this specific work and the values that led you to act? (Please be sure to name whether you are joining/a part of an existing organization’s work or building new programming).
  • Please describe the community whom your justice work is serving and share how engaging in this work may impact the community you serve?
  • What values do you share with this community and any partner organizations and why are they important to you?
  • How are partnership and/or collaboration experienced within your justice work and how do you imagine being well supported by this UUSC Fund collaboration?

2. Budget – Using the template provided, please let us know how you plan to utilize the funding. Your budget will not be evaluated – this is only provided as a tool for you to reflect! It’s okay if your plans change over the course of the program. And yes! This is where you include support for your rest and well-being, as well as your anticipated project expenses. Yes! – writing retreats, dance class, massage, coaching, spiritual direction, whatever is restorative and sustaining to you, be sure to include it in this budget.

3. The names and contact info of three community references


Applicants must:

  • Be a religious professional – Individuals employed full-time or part-time by a religious institution, including places of worship, or a faith-affiliated justice organization OR leading entrepreneurial ministries
  • Practice progressive values in alignment with Unitarian Universalist values.  Applicants are not required to practice Unitarian Universalism.
  • Be willing to follow UUSC’s Guiding Principles

Selection Criteria

  • Strength/quality of connection to justice work, including past experience
  • Applicant’s expression of their connection to faith and justice
  • Clarity and impact of justice work
  • Strength of connection to impacted community
  • Willingness to incorporate rest into the process


  • The following justice areas are UUSC’s priority: migration justice, climate/disaster justice, and international justice and accountability.
  • Proposed work will be connected to ongoing justice ministry and/or there’s a clear connection to how work will be implemented in the future of their justice ministry.
  • Participants are willing to join a community call and/or share about their unfolding work in another format.


Please submit applications and direct questions to sabbatical@uusc.org.