Call for 'Big Conversation' on clergy care and well-being

The Church of England is being invited to take part in a ‘Big Conversation’ on a new deal to coordinate and improve its approach to clergy care and well-being

The suggested text of a Covenant for Clergy Care and Well-being, modelled on the Military Covenant, is published for consultation along with a set of proposed shared commitments between ministers, churches and the wider church.

The documents have been drawn up by a Working Group appointed last year following a debate at the General Synod which heard of the impact of stress, isolation and loneliness on clergy’s lives and ministries.

In a report published alongside the Covenant, the Working Group calls for shared responsibility for clergy well-being between ministers, churches, dioceses and the national church. It also sets a goal of a culture change in the Church of England towards greater concern for the health and well-being of its ordained ministers.

Ven Pete Spiers from the Diocese of Liverpool is taking part in the working group. He said “I am only too aware that the care and wellbeing of clergy is a critical issue because of the increasing pressures we are all facing. When I was invited to be part of the working party, it felt extremely important to me that whatever was drawn up was earthed in reality. I hope that many people, including laity, will participate in the Big Conversation we want to start so that as a Church of England and as a Diocese we can improve the level of care and well-being of the clergy. I would be very willing to discuss with anyone in the Diocese the issues that our proposed Covenant raises. We’re listening and we urge you to take part!”

Canon Simon Butler, who chaired the Working Group, said: “We are calling for a ‘Big Conversation’ on clergy care and well-being and we are providing the framework for this to happen. Our aim is not to be prescriptive, but to promote a conversation which will lead to action across all levels of the church, from members of local churches through to the Cathedrals and National Church Institutions.

“Our goal is to bring about a culture change in the Church towards greater awareness of our shared responsibility to promote clergy care and well-being and a significant move towards a preventative approach alongside responsive care.

“The Working Group is very keen to listen to the responses before taking that into the final document for the Synod next summer. We are hoping that the Covenant and the report will be debated by every Diocesan Synod by the end of July 2020.”

The draft paper 'A Covenant for Clergy Care and Well Being' can be found here.

Details on the membership of the Working Group and last July’s General Synod debate can be found here.

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