Churches and clergy across England are being invited to take part in discussion about a new partnership aimed at improving the care and wellbeing of ministers, in a ‘Big Conversation’ launched yesterday.
New resources to help debate and consideration of the Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing are being provided after the Covenant was given overwhelming backing by the General Synod earlier this year.
The Covenant commits all parts of the Church, as well as individual clergy, to sharing responsibility for the welfare of ministers and their households. Over the next two years, the General Synod has asked the whole church to reflect on the questions posed in the Big Conversation.
A set of three documents published yesterday gives details of the principles of the Covenant, shared commitments for the Church and questions for consideration by congregations, clergy, dioceses and the wider church.
The General Synod has already backed recommendations from the Working Group that drew up the Covenant.
These include promoting awareness of stress and the dangers of burnout as part of training for ordained ministry and new resources for licensing and induction services, highlighting the care and wellbeing of clergy. The Group also recommended the promotion of access to pastoral supervision for clergy through coaching, consultancy or mentoring.
Members further recommended that Parish Profiles – the description of a parish and its mission – and role descriptions for clergy undergo regular reviews to ensure they are realistic and that ministers have a clear idea of the role they are being asked to undertake.
Revd Canon Simon Butler, who headed the Working Group, said: “We hope by publishing these documents for reflection and action on the Covenant that we can help encourage debate across the church on our shared responsibility for the well-being of ministers and their households.
“The care and wellbeing of the clergy is crucial to the health of the Church at worship, in mission, and in pastoral care. Recent experience of the Covid-19 pandemic has served to underline the need for those who care to be properly supported and given the opportunity to attend to their own wellbeing while in the midst of both crisis and everyday ministry.
“Our vision is that the work of supporting clergy in their ministry will become an integral part of the life of the Church and part of the DNA of every aspect of our mission and ministry.”
The discussion documents have been released as the National Ministry Team of the Church of England plans to publish further resources later this year to help inform the conversations about the Covenant. The material will be drawn from the 10-year Living Ministry research programme led by the Ministry Team.
The Covenant was declared an Act of Synod in February by the General Synod, paving the way for it to be declared an Act of Synod in each of the Church of England’s 42 dioceses.
A Clergy Care and Wellbeing Facilitation Group has been set up to encourage the sharing of good practice on clergy care and wellbeing.