Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Pastor Appreciation Month
October is recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month by many denominations, including the United Methodist Church. As such, this is the perfect time for churches and community leaders to express their gratitude to the clergy in their lives.
This is particularly true in 2021 as during the last two years clergy have faced increasing levels of stress due to COVID-19, racial injustices, political divisions and denominational conflict. Indeed, results of a recent Clergy Well-being Survey by Wespath* indicate that overall clergy health has declined over the past decade.
The Conference leadership team has identified clergy care as one of our three near-term priorities. The other two priorities are anti-racism and discipleship development.
With our clergy care emphasis we are working to create a healthier ministry environment for North Alabama clergy and churches. Examples of our efforts include supporting clergy retreat trips through Educational Opportunities; developing more streamlined ways for clergy to access mental wellness care through insurance benefits; initiating a Wellness Seminar to address mind, body, and soul care; self-care coaching of clergy in The Ichnos Project and educating and informing all clergy and Pastor/Staff-Parish Committees about the importance of vacation, renewal leave, and spiritual formation.
Our Pastor/Staff-Parish Relations Committees are invited to partner with us in addressing concerns about clergy well-being by:
- Encouraging pastors to take regular days off, use their vacation, and schedule renewal time;
- Ensuring that clergy are aware of United Counselling and other quality counseling services available to clergy and families in the North Alabama Conference;
- Facilitating meaningful observances of Pastor Appreciation Month this October. Two links that list several ideas for how to do this are https://www.wespath.org/assets/1/7/4775.pdf and https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/showing-appreciation-for-your-pastor/.
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference
*Wespath is a general agency of The United Methodist Church that focuses on pension and health benefits of those they serve.