Discussion on “Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations”
March 14 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Whole libraries could be filled with books about the healing power of the holy. Some books are filled with miraculous stories, others with healthy skepticism. The social sciences haven’t taken a conclusive position on the veracity of Jesus’ healings (that I am aware of) but there is general consensus that religious participation lends itself to overall health and well-being. Regular worship is correlated with less depression, greater social support, greater life satisfaction, more charitable giving, more volunteering, and greater civic engagement among other positive effects. But what effect does the act of leading worship and a religious community have on its leaders particularly clergy and their capacity to be agents of holy healing?
That question was taken up by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research’s project called “Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations.” (Find that link by clicking here.) In general, the Hartford study found that, “clergy over all look quite mentally and emotionally healthy.” Among the things that contribute to that—healthy relationships between and among members and pastor(s), and the level of vitality and adaptability of a congregation. No surprise there.
But the study also found that “Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of clergy report being burnt out and having thoughts of wanting to leave [ministry].” More than half of religious leaders surveyed (1,700) seriously considered leaving pastoral ministry at least once in the last three years. Among the things that contribute to clergy burnout and/or departure—congregational resistance to meet new challenges, diminished energy, and (primarily) the presence of conflict.
I am very concerned for our colleagues in ministry who have shared some of their struggles with me and for the church and its serious shortage of mature, capable, and committed clergy and clergy candidates.
Thus I invite you to read the study and join clergy colleagues in conversation.
Rev. William *Bill” Worley
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