Thinking Anglicans

Clergy Well-being

Press release from the Church of England

Call for ‘Big Conversation’ on clergy care and well-being
02/10/2018

The Church of England is being invited to take part in a ‘Big Conversation’ on a new deal to coordinate and improve its approach to clergy care and well-being, in a set of draft documents published today.

The suggested text of a Covenant for Clergy Care and Well-being, modelled on the Military Covenant, is published for consultation along with a set of proposed shared commitments between ministers, churches and the wider church.

The documents have been drawn up by a Working Group appointed last year following a debate at the General Synod which heard of the impact of stress, isolation and loneliness on clergy’s lives and ministries.

In a report published alongside the Covenant, the Working Group calls for shared responsibility for clergy well-being between ministers, churches, dioceses and the national church. It also sets a goal of a culture change in the Church of England towards greater concern for the health and well-being of its ordained ministers.

Canon Simon Butler, who chaired the Working Group, said: “We are calling for a ‘Big Conversation’ on clergy care and well-being and we are providing the framework for this to happen. Our aim is not to be prescriptive, but to promote a conversation which will lead to action across all levels of the church, from members of local churches through to the Cathedrals and National Church Institutions.

“Our goal is to bring about a culture change in the Church towards greater awareness of our shared responsibility to promote clergy care and well-being and a significant move towards a preventative approach alongside responsive care.

“The Working Group is very keen to listen to the responses before taking that into the final document for the Synod next summer. We are hoping that the Covenant and the report will be debated by every Diocesan Synod by the end of July 2020.”

The draft paper ‘A Covenant for Clergy Care and Well Being’ can be found here.

Details on the membership of the Working Group and last July’s General Synod debate can be found here.

We reported on the setting up of the working group here.

Madeleine Davies writes at length on the report for Church Times: Clergy burdened by unrealistic job specs, C of E told.

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Richard W. Symonds
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This initiative should have been introduced years ago – especially for clergy who have been falsely or wrongfully accused of child sexual abuse

american piskie
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american piskie

I don’t think it is any good bewailing “unreasonable expectations” and asking us to consider whether the children of ministers are “judged by different standards to other children” when at every ordination we are told – and the clergy assent to this – that exemplary standards are expected in the clerical household. “Will you endeavour to fashion your own life and that of your household according to the way of Christ, that you may be a pattern and example to Christ’s people?” I think that the unspoken assumptions here just won’t do anymore.

Michael Mulhern
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Michael Mulhern

It’s interesting that this is being reported (and not before time) when Ian Paul has also written something on his blog about a presentation at the Archbishops’ Council about the correlation between church attendance and the numbers of stipendiary clergy per capita (Hereford is highest, for example). What is the correlation between these findings and unreasonable expectations on clergy? As an aside (and here I will draw plenty of ire, I know) my experience of some (note *some*) locally trained and ordained clergy has been a factor in raising unrealistic expectations of stipendiary clergy among worshippers. Often with far fewer… Read more »