It’s been said that a parish will only be as healthy as its leadership. If we want an emotionally and spiritually healthy parish, clergy (and lay leadership) need to keep themselves healthy. To accomplish that, there are several things clergy can do, and it is expected that vestry/bishop’s committee members will encourage their clergy in these endeavors:
- Bishop Doyle recommends that every clergy person to have a Therapist with whom to work through personal issues—and we all have personal issues! Therapy is free, through Cigna’s EAP, to clergy who are insured by the church. Bishop Doyle also recommends that clergy have a Spiritual Director. Seeking support from professionals will help us to bring our best selves to ministry, to our parish, and to our families. The Wellness and Care Ministry office keeps a list of therapists and spiritual directors by region who have been recommended by fellow clergy. Contact The Rev. Canon Lisa Hines to request a list for your area. Clergy family members are encouraged to access this resource as well.
- Implementing personal daily practices such as prayer and mindfulness can heal our souls and bring us to spiritual health. Abundant spiritual resources are available at episcopal.credo.org to help clergy and their families get started. Additional resources can be found on the website of our Benedictine brothers at the Society of St. John the Evangelist ssje.org.
- Another critical component to emotional and spiritual health is community. Meeting with other clergy at regularly scheduled convocational clericus meetings is highly recommended. Such collegial communities provide a place to share ideas, challenges, frustrations, and joys in an appropriate setting.
- Clergy and their family members are encouraged to build and nurture a community of friends outside of the church, for mutual support, encouragement, and just plain fun! It might be a group of former seminary classmates, neighbors, or fellow golfers, quilters, or bowlers. As one young priest noted: “We need to get a life!“
As clergy model pursuits of emotional and spiritual health, our family and parishioners are invited to follow suit. It’s a win, win, win!