Wellbeing is where an individual “realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community” (World Health Organization)
Clergy wellbeing is not just about looking after yourself for the sake of your health (mental, physical and spiritual). As the WHO definition says, it is also about working in a way that is fulfilling for you and fruitful for God. ‘Happy hens lay good eggs’: if our wellbeing is suffering, it will affect our ministry; if we enjoy a high sense of wellbeing it is likely our ministry will thrive.
The Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing
In February 2020 The Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing was made an Act of Synod by General Synod. The Covenant is the expressed view of the mind of the Church of England on issues relating to clergy care and wellbeing. If you scroll down to ‘background papers’ you will find many other helpful resources.
Counselling and other support
1) Employee Assistance Programme
The Diocese of Leeds is now working with Health Assured, our Employee Assistance Programme, in delivering a confidential, professional source of support, including a helpline and counselling services, to its clergy and spouses. Despite the reference to 'Employees', the programme provides services closely suited to the needs of clergy.
- A 24-hour helpline: share a problem with someone who listens to you with care before getting actionable advice.
- Telephone counselling: work through your problems with a qualified therapist accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
- Face-to-face counselling sessions: speak with a qualified professional in a private and confidential setting near you
- The My Healthy Advantage app and online portal: a comprehensive library of resources to help you get through life’s challenges.
- And much more...
The Employee Assistance Programme website includes factsheets, 4-week programmes and webinars on all sorts of things: anxiety, sleep, exercise, winter wellbeing, basics of money management, social media and mental health, bereavement, and much more.
This all free and totally confidential. No one at the Diocese will be able to see your name or any record of conversation.
To Access the EAP:
You can access the EAP by telephoning 0800 028 0199
or by visiting the Health Assured website.
To access their online resources you will need a username and password. To obtain these please contact: The HR Team
2) Clergy Support Trust
Please note, the Clergy Support Trust also offers free and confidential counselling (see Clergy Support Trust below).
3) The Human Resources Team at Church House
The HR team at Church House are also available to talk through any issues or questions.
Bishop's Visitors - offering support
Sometimes clergy marriages and civil partnerships come under pressure and strain. The role of the Bishop’s Visitor is to support clergy spouse/partners in the event of a clergy marriage facing difficulties or coming to an end for any reason. The role is to support, help identify needs and provide signposting to ensure those needs are met. The role is not to provide advice.
To find out confidentially about the support offered by our Bishop’s Visitors, please contact the HR Team.
Retreats and Grants
Clergy are encouraged to take time away from the parish for an annual retreat. The Living Ministry research project showed that 99% of clergy who took a retreat found this ‘highly beneficial’ or ‘moderately beneficial’.
Diocesan Retreat Grants
You can apply annually for a diocesan grant of up £210 towards a retreat. The retreat grant is separate from your CMD grant and does not carry over from one year to the next.
Go to CMD Resources to download a CMD Retreat Grant Application Form
Clergy Support Trust Retreat Grants
You can also apply for a retreat grant from the Clergy Support Trust (see below)
ou can also apply for a grant to attend training courses that support your ministry. The CMD grant is currently £250 per year. If not used, this can accumulate for up to 3 years.
Go to CMD Resources to download a CMD Grant Application Form
The Living Ministry research project showed that 97% of clergy who had a spiritual director found this ‘highly beneficial’ or ‘moderately beneficial’.
Many clergy find their own spiritual director. However, the diocese also has a database of trained spiritual directors (clergy and lay) who are available to help.
You can access this list, along with other resources, here.
Clergy can apply for a sabbatical when they have been ordained for 10 years or more. Clergy who have already had a sabbatical, may apply for a subsequent sabbatical after a further 7 years or more. Sabbaticals would not usually be given during your first year or two in a new post, or shortly before you retire.
The Director of Clergy Development sends out information early each year, inviting applications for the following year. Applications are then discussed at the Bishop’s Staff Meeting in May or June.
If you are interested in taking a sabbatical:
- Raise this in your annual Ministry Development Review
- Please feel free to discuss this with your area Clergy Development Officer or the Director of Clergy Development. Names of the CDOs and the DCD can be found here
Clergy Support Trust
The Clergy Support Trust offers generous grants for all sorts of things:
- Financial support
- Emergency grants
- Health grants
- Fitness and leisure activities
- First baby
You are advised to try their eligibility checker (you are eligible for a grant if you do not own a property and have less than £200,000 in savings, or if you do own a property and have less than £16,000 in savings).
You can also access free and confidential counselling through the Clergy Support Trust. This is available to all clergy and is not means tested.
How Clergy Thrive: Insights from Living Ministry
This short book (less than 70 pages) brings together statistics and reflections from nearly 800 clergy on five areas of their lives:
- Spiritual and vocational wellbeing
- Physical and mental wellbeing
- Financial and material wellbeing
- Participation in the life of the church
The book’s research shows, for instance, that 29% ordained ministers said they felt isolated in their ministry. Only 19% clergy said they could detach mentally from the tasks of ministry more than once a week (i.e. most clergy find it hard to switch off from ministry most of the time). 16% of clergy reported feeling burned out from their role a few times a month or more.
The book can be downloaded (free) here.