Second clergy Flourish cohort managed to “flourish” despite pandemic

4/19/2021

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the second clergy FLOURISH cohort managed to “flourish.”

This year’s group was able to meet in person monthly (thanks to the hospitality and large open space at Cahaba Heights United Methodist Church) from October 2020 through March 2021. The group was limited to six clergy this year due to COVID-19 and was facilitated by Rev. Dr. Hughey Reynolds, Senior Pastor of Decatur First UMC, and Rev. Sheri Ferguson, Board of Ordained Ministry‘s Ministry Health Coordinator.

FLOURISH is North Alabama Conference’s Eight-Year Assessment as described in Book of Discipline ¶349.3. This offers all clergy who have been serving in ministry for eight years or more the invitation to participate in a six-month 3R’s Flourishing in Ministry process. The three R’s are REASSESS, RENEW, and RESOURCING.

FLOURISH offers a safe accountability group for clergy to reflect on life and ministry, and it is an opportunity to rediscover the current “WHY” of their call to ministry. Normally, the process would have involved opportunities for a retreat as a group, but this year’s group was creative in ways to make the group meaningful.

The group began with re-reading their spiritual autobiographies they wrote when going through the process of ordination. They then took a deep dive into the Enneagram to take a fresh look at the uniqueness they bring to life and ministry and to enhance their self-awareness. They also studied Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Wellbeing by Matt Bloom, which contains some of the most recent qualitative and quantitative research on clergy wellbeing. Among the things discussed were resiliency factors; emotional inflammation and pandemic effects on mental health; core values/guiding principles; the importance of “mapping your days”; restorative niches; cognitive practices like mindfulness, centering prayer; Sabbath and renewal opportunities.

Here are some of the comments participants offered about their FLOURISH experience.

“The Flourish program was a wonderful experience for me; an opportunity to engage in guided self-reflection in order to better care for myself as a whole person and be better equipped to thrive in ministry. I would highly recommend this to any clergy, regardless of age or time in ministry!”
 

“The Flourish in Ministry program was a great experience with even more incredible people that helped me evaluate my pastoral ministry health, and it has given me tools to design an action plan for a more holistic, healthy ministry.”

If you are a clergy person who has served in ministry for eight years or more and want more information about the next cohort, please contact Sheri Ferguson at sheri.ferguson@umcna.org.


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