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UK News

New report suggests CofE clergy from minority ethnic backgrounds lack wellbeing support

by Sophie Drew

A new report, detailing wellbeing difficulties faced by global majority heritage (GMH) clergy within the Church of England, has been released. 

The investigation, which is part of a ten-year programme into how clergy can flourish in ministry, suggests that many non-white clergy leave their roles because of poor wellbeing. 

Dr Selina Stone, a post-doctoral research associate at Durham University, interviewed 18 clergy from a range of ethnic groups, each partaking in different roles from throughout the various stages of ministry. 

When asked whether she felt the Church of England was doing enough to support GMH communities, Dr Stone told Premier: "The challenge is that it's very ad hoc. 

"There were a few stories of people who were having a really great time in ministry, who were thriving in different contexts, different parts of the country; that includes it in rural areas, as well as in cities. 

"But overwhelmingly, there was a sense that clergy really are having to look after themselves, even those who are thriving and doing well.

"There was sometimes a sense that they've had to really fight for their wellbeing. 

"They've had to be the ones to educate their sometimes senior clergy and staff on how to look after them. 

"For those who aren't doing well, in terms of their health and well being, there was a sense that they're doing everything they can in terms of peer support, depending on their families and friends, getting advice from mentors, but they were still dealing with so many additional pressures, in addition to the normal pressures people face as clergy in terms of the workload, and the hours that they're working. 

"There were additional challenges for them in terms of progressing in the church, and being seen as being equal in terms of jobs they might be going for when it comes to parish roles, but also in wanting to be part of the wider structures. 

"Sometimes participating in those wider structures in the Church of England, whether that's a diocesan level, could actually cost them quite a lot in terms of their mental and emotional health. 

"So there was a lot to be done in terms of improving this, so that every person regardless of their ethnic background, or race, to be able to serve in ministry, in whichever context."

Rev Ben Cahill-Nicholls, chief executive of Clergy Support Trust said: "Clergy Support Trust seeks to walk alongside all Anglican clergy households.

"We know through speaking to our applicants that they continue to face racism in in the Church, difficulties securing posts, and high workloads. As the largest charity supporting Anglican clergy, we are delighted to have funded this research which we hope is welcomed by all our sisters and brothers across the Church, and from which we - like others - will seek to learn."

Canon Dr Sanjee Perera, Archbishops' adviser for minority ethnic Anglican concerns, said: "This study helps us understand the narratives, conditions and contexts of the challenges faced by UK minority ethnic/ global majority heritage clergy.

"I am deeply grateful to the research team and Ministry Development team for their commitment to this issue and to Clergy Support Trust for funding the study."

The published study can be found by clicking here:

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