Overwhelming support for Clergy Wellbeing

by Michael Ford last modified 09 Jul, 2019 04:58 PM

General Synod has voted overwhelmingly in support of a Covenant on Clergy Care and Wellbeing.

Members voted to adopt a covenant committing parishes, dioceses and the wider church as well as individual clergy to sharing responsibility for the welfare of ministers and their households.

The measures backed by General Synod include work to promote access to pastoral supervision for clergy including coaching, consultancy or mentoring, in line with support provided to other caring professions.

The Covenant was drawn up by the Working Group following a debate at the General Synod in 2017 in which members heard of the impact of stress, isolation and loneliness on clergy’s lives and ministries.

The Revd Canon Simon Butler headed the working group which noted that there was growing demand for pastoral care in parishes amid complex social needs. He told Synod:

"There is a widespread acknowledgment that we can and must do better to support clergy in ways that promote good practice and prevent occasional stress becoming a harmful and chronic condition.

"It will be a great boost to many clergy to see the General Synod taking a lead, and I hope to see the wider church following in the coming months."

The measures backed by the General Synod include work to promote access to pastoral supervision for clergy including coaching, consultancy or mentoring, in line with support provided to other caring professions.

Our Diocesan Director of Ministry, the Revd Canon Jane Charman welcomed Synod's vote saying:

"The Diocese of Salisbury has a good reputation nationally for the quality of our wellbeing provision, and our triennial clergy wellbeing survey is mentioned in the report. I look forward to building on these strong foundations to ensure that not only our clergy, but all our ministers, continue to receive the pastoral and professional support they need to flourish in ministry."

Synod also approved plans to promote 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 well-being of clergy. A report from the working group recommended that Parish Profiles – the description of a parish and its mission - and job 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."

Under plans approved today by Synod, clergy, parishes and dioceses will be invited to contribute their responses to the Covenant as part of a ‘Big Conversation’ inspired by a series of questions set out in a document prepared by the Working Group. Churches and dioceses will also be invited to adopt the Covenant.

• The text of the Covenant, together with a background brief can be read here.

• The full text of the motion reads:

That this Synod:
a) adopt the Covenant set out at paragraph 20 of GS 2133 as a statement of its commitment to clergy care and wellbeing;
b) request the Business Committee, with the agreement of the Presidents, to make arrangements so that the Covenant can be affirmed and proclaimed an Act of Synod at the February 2020 group of sessions;
c) request the Clergy Wellbeing Working Group to oversee the transformation of the proposals contained in GS 2133 into actual practice, in particular by making the Shared Commitments and Big Conversation (at paragraphs 21 to 32 of GS 2133) available online in a way that enables their practical use by clergy, parishes, deaneries and dioceses by the end of 2019;
d) request the Appointments Committee to appoint members to a Clergy Care and Wellbeing Facilitation Group to encourage and evaluate progress in the field of clergy care and wellbeing across the Church of England, with a view to the Group reporting to the General Synod within the 2020-25 Quinquennium.

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