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Church News

All Christians urged to take responsibility for clergy wellbeing

by Cara Bentley

The Church of England is encouraging all churches to talk about clergy care and wellbeing. 

It has released three documents, one for members, one for clergy and one for bishops, about how to look after local vicars and curates.  

The advice for church members includes:  "Respect the boundaries that the minister and their family/household need quite rightly to place around their home life, and to ensure that people respect the necessary space associated with the minister being a public figure and, where necessary, help to protect it." and "Ensure that the clergy both have and take opportunities for rest, recreation, training, retreat and study."

The documents come after the idea was given overwhelming backing by the General Synod earlier this year, committing all parts of the Church to sharing responsibility for the welfare of ministers and their households. 

Over the next two years, the General Synod has asked the whole church to reflect on the topic of clergy care. 

The General Synod has already backed recommendations from the Working Group that drew up the Covenant.

These include promoting awareness of stress and the dangers of burnout, as part of training for ordained ministry and new resources for licensing and induction services, highlighting the care and wellbeing of clergy. The Group also recommended  access to pastoral supervision for clergy through coaching, consultancy or mentoring. 

Members further recommended that the description of a parish and its mission - and role descriptions for clergy - undergo regular reviews to ensure they are realistic and that ministers have a clear idea of the role they are being asked to undertake.

Revd Canon Simon Butler, who headed the Working Group, said: "The care and wellbeing of the clergy is crucial to the health of the Church at worship, in mission, and in pastoral care. Recent experience of the Covid-19 pandemic has served to underline the need for those who care to be properly supported and given the opportunity to attend to their own wellbeing while in the midst of both crisis and everyday ministry.

"Our vision is that the work of supporting clergy in their ministry will become an integral part of the life of the Church and part of the DNA of every aspect of our mission and ministry."

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