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UK News

Call for nationwide conversation on clergy wellbeing

by Cara Bentley

At last July's General Synod, it was agreed that documents should be drawn up by a working group to address the stress of clergy, the isolation many feel and how the burden can be reduced.

They are also inviting people to contribute comment by December this year towards a 'Covenant for Clergy Care', which has been modelled on the Military Covenant, aimed at opening a conversation about clergy wellbeing.

Dr Yvonne Warren, a Christian and Psychologist is part of that working group. She has been married to a clergyman for over 50 years and has studied the subject of overworked church leaders for decades.

She explained on Premier's News Hour why leaders often feel swamped: "There aren't any fixed rules. It's not a 9-5 job so it's not easy to know when you're off duty. You have to regulate your own time.

"Particularly for those clergy who have a real pastoral heart - it's very, very hard to say no to people".

Dr Warren emphasised how it is sometimes harder for rural parishes where it is unlikely there is a church secretary or many other staff to answer everyday queries: "You can't easily just close the door and everything goes away and in many vicarages, rectories or clergy homes the phone goes straight through to them so it is a question of just answering the phone."

However, she explained how church members could help share the burden: "It should be a partnership, we're all in this work together but God's called each of us to do different jobs. He's called the clergy particularly to equip the lay people in their work in the world in whatever work they're doing to be disciples of Christ in that position.

"But we need very much, as lay people, to understand as much as possible the actual stresses the clergy go through and we need to be supportive."

She recommended telling our church pastor when their sermon has been appreciated and asking how they are, "not just bombarding clergy with how we are and what's going on for us".

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