Ministry is often intensely rewarding: serving God and serving our neighbours can bring great joy. At times, Ministry can also be stressful. It bears the weight of the expectations, hopes and concerns of all those we encounter – the church community, the wider local community, the wider Church, and society at large. This section highlights wellbeing resources available to all clergy.
Lord, you know me through and through.
Help me find all that I need to serve you well. When I feel stretched too far, give me the strength to seek support.
Guard me, guide me, and bless me with companions in the way. In Jesus’ holy name.
It is good practice for clergy to have a discipline of receiving spiritual direction. A trusted Christian able to listen, offering prayerful response and guidance in your faith, discipleship and ministry. Fr Edward Owen, Diocesan Spirituality Advisor can offer help in finding a spiritual director. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mutual support groups
Many clergy participate in cell groups which are not geographically based, allowing a space where chosen spiritual friendships can develop for prayer, and the sharing of the joys and challenges of ministry – a community of prayerful reflective practice. Contact Tim Jones, Director of Ministry, if you are interested in joining or setting up a cell group. Email: email@example.com
Senior colleagues are available to help understand and manage the variety of burdens that clergy bear. It can feel hard to admit to finding things difficult, but senior colleagues – Ministry Area Leaders, Area Deans, Archdeacons, the Bishop – will be familiar with the stresses of ministry, and will have experience, wisdom, and practical help to bring to bear.
Clergy Support Services
The Churches Counselling Service in Wales, Cynnal, provides an excellent completely confidential counselling service for all ministers of religion and their families.
Clergy Support Trust
The Clergy Support Trust supports Anglican clergy in all kinds of ways, not least with financial grants and help with counselling.
St Luke’s For Clergy
St Luke's for Clergy is dedicated to helping the psychological wellbeing of clergy and their families.
The Sheldon Hub
A safe online resource hub for clergy, offering mutual support and signposting to resources of all kinds. It is a ministry of Devon-based Society of Mary & Martha, which provides retreats, courses and counselling for Christian ministers. www.sheldonhub.org 01647 252752
Church in Wales Clergy Handbook
The Church in Wales Clergy Handbook provides a clear outline for the ways in which clergy can be protected from overwork:
- Observe a regular rest day (a personal sabbath) and develop a personal discipline of rest and renewal which is respected by colleagues and parishioners.
- Structure your working days with space for necessary personal time and rest.
- Be careful to take the full leave allowance for clergy in the clergy Terms of Service: “The annual holiday entitlement is four weeks to include four Sundays per annum plus those Bank Holidays which do not fall on Christmas Day and Good Friday. In addition a Cleric is also entitled to two periods of six days holidays to be taken after Christmas and Easter.” When on holiday, leave the demands of ministry behind.
Recognizing that you’re not just stretched but seriously overstretched can itself feel like extra burden. If possible, it is always best to seek help long before reaching a personal crisis point. If the prospect of seeking help feels like it might be an impossible challenge, then paradoxically the time has already come to find someone in whom to confide immediately. Talk to a trusted colleague, or contact Cynnal. The Samaritans provide a national 24-hour confidential helpline for anyone in need – dial 116 123
Concerns about a colleague's wellbeing
If you have concerns about a colleague’s wellbeing, voice your concerns as appropriate with them, or a senior colleague. If a colleague comes to you for help, discuss with them the benefits of getting further help from a senior colleague or the wider Church. If necessary, make contact on their behalf if they give their consent.
Dignity at Work
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Conflict is inevitable in any group, including church, and without care can descend into poor behaviour. Clergy can be particularly vulnerable because of their place in the web of local community relationships. If you believe that someone (including yourself) is repeatedly being treated badly, or even bullied, then it is important voice your concern to an appropriate senior colleague.
What Do You Seek? John-Francis Friendship, Canterbury Press 2021
Overcoming Stress Tim Cantopher, Westminster Knox 2015
How Clergy Thrive, Liz Graveling, CHP 2020
Tools for Reflective Ministry Sally Nash & Paul Nash, SPCK 2009
If you have any questions or feedback about clergy wellbeing, contact Tim Jones, Diocesan Director of Ministry & Discipleship firstname.lastname@example.org