Synod paper GS2072

Issues clergy face, highlighted in GS2072

Self-Management: the importance of clergy developing strategies and patterns of self-care in ministry.

Preventative Education & Training: the need to identify what makes clergy resilient in ministry both during IME and in ongoing ministry and to offer strategies and programmes that can build resilience.

Supervision, Coaching, ‘Life Coaching’ & Reflective Practice: the need to provide clergy with opportunities to reflect upon their ministry and its ongoing development in a ‘safe’ environment.

Stress, Counselling & Mental Health: the need to ensure clergy who are experiencing personal challenges in ministry find opportunities to explore those through clearly-signposted access to advice, counselling and, if necessary, mental health services.

Occupational Health: the need to develop, monitor and encourage good patterns of working life that are sustainable, renewing and life-giving.

Spiritual & Theological Resourcing: the need to have access to spiritual direction/accompaniment in prayer and discipleship and the opportunity to study.

The Role of the Ordained Minister: in a fast-changing world, the role and place of the Church’s ordained ministers has changed drastically. The clergy minister with a less clear or comfortable place in society and community; and the trusted ‘status’ of clergy has undoubtedly been diminished in public perception by the reputational damage of clergy sexual abuse scandals. Clergy also have always had many emotional and psychological demands placed upon them but, unlike the other professions where similar demands are encountered, the level of institutional support or reward is less well-developed.

The Effect of Emerging Priorities & Perceptions in Church Life: Renewal & Reform is a major thrust of missional energy in the years ahead and presents new challenges to, and different expectations upon, many clergy. Some clergy sense, whether accurately or not, the emergence of a ‘target’ or ‘quantitative’ culture.

Clericalism: Clericalism in our Church creates artificial boundaries between fellow-baptised Christians through the perception of being ‘lay’ or ‘ordained’. This naturally has a deleterious effect on the People of God as a whole; but it is perhaps less-acknowledged that it has significant implications for clergy in terms of wellbeing. At the same time, clergy can often feel a similar way about their bishop as do lay people about their vicar. In both relationships the expectation/fantasy that one man or woman can do and be everything for another creates a culture of expectation and the self-fulfilling prophecy of disappointment.

Anti-Clericalism & Bullying: inevitably alongside the culture of clericalism, some clergy experience a lack of appreciation of their gifts and expertise by other church members, this can become a matter of bullying of the clergy.

Clergy Housing: the speed, effectiveness and quality of the way in which parsonages are maintained and repaired (both at ingoing works stage and thereafter) has a significant effect on wellbeing.

Reaching “Disengaged” Clergy: people most in need of support can often avoid support networks.

Ministerial Development Reviews (MDR): MDR is a major area of interest and concern. It should be delivered across the Church in a way that is fit for purpose, is properly resourced in follow-up, and is conducted at a sufficient standard to be of use.

Pensions: There is anxiety about the capacity of the Church of England to provide what it has promised to its future pensioners.

Increasing perception of “doing more with less”: e.g. increasing expectation on Area/Rural Deans, posts being advertised as “half-time” accompanied by full-time job descriptions, House for Duty posts.

Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) & Safeguarding: the use of the CDM over relatively minor complaints and as a potential vehicle for bullying. A similar view has been expressed about the way safeguarding procedures are sometimes implemented.

Capability: Poor practice by some clergy can place a drag on the whole profession. The cumbersome capability procedures need urgent review by so that those who are unable to perform the role could be removed more easily.

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