Clergy Health pilot group sponsored by Board of Ordained Ministry helps clergy achieve significant positive changes

June 21, 2017

There are significant challenges for clergy today. Among many, these challenges include technology and accessibility; time; authority and expectations; changing shape of lay involvement; boundary issues; finances; mobility and uprootedness; postmodernism; and dissonance between vision and reality. (Epperly, B. A Center in the Cyclone: 21st Century Clergy Self-Care, 2014)

In an effort to support and undergird gains made by our clergy in areas of emotional, spiritual and physical health (Center for Health, Wespath, 2015), the Board of Ordained Ministry offered a pilot program that met monthly from September 2016 through May 2017. A group of 12 clergy covenanted to meet and explore areas that included emotional intelligence, boundaries, forgiveness, conflict management, Sabbath, personal and corporate finances, meditation, yoga, exercise and nutrition.

The group agreed to a pre-test and post-test, and while some acknowledged that recent life events had an effect on their post-test responses, the group overall showed significant positive changes in several areas. These areas included the following:

  1. feeling more supported
  2. less a need to blame others
  3. a return to more empathy for self and others
  4. less of a tendency to catch colds and be “sick”
  5. less tightness in the back and shoulders
  6. less of a feeling of more expectations heaped on them
  7. less disillusionment
  8. less cutting off of self with others
  9. less overall stress
  10. more use of allowed vacation time.

 Group members also offered the following reflections:

“This group brought awareness to the areas of my life as clergy, and spouse, and parent that improved my health.”

“Participating in this group has helped me to pay better attention to my health and in doing so I’m farther from burnout than when I began.”

“I’ve found my time with this group to be invaluable. The learning has been a true gift, but the time with col-leagues—priceless.”

“There were several insights I had about caring for myself that were easy to apply quickly to my life. Many of these insights wouldn’t have come outside of this group.”

“Loved and appreciated our time together.”

If you are interested in more information or being part of the next group, please contact Sheri Ferguson at

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