Wellbeing symposium makes for joined-up working
St Luke’s has been delighted by the response to its first Transforming Clergy Wellbeing Together symposium, which aimed to create a forum to foster closer cooperation on improving clergy wellbeing. ‘We were very encouraged both by the calibre of people attending and by their keen desire to work together and share learning,’ said St Luke’s Chair Edward Martineau.
Drawing together some 40 experts from various denominations and organisations, the event was opened by Liz Graveling, CofE Ministry Division, who shared ongoing research on clergy boundary-setting. Her findings were underlined by Jan Korris, Reflective Practice Advisor for St Luke’s, who urged the Church to provide clergy with adequate and relevant wellbeing training and support.
David Plews and Gabby Dench, from the Church of Scotland’s Ascend programme, described how Ascend has worked with the Church’s 700-plus clergy to gain trust and manage change as they introduced a preventative model for wellbeing.
The Methodist Council’s Linda Robotham explained how the Council had set up its wellbeing provision, adapting HR principles but recognising the unique context of ministry. Ministers are given an assessment of their wellbeing and boundaries, with further steps recommended. Giving permission to talk about ill-health has been crucial, said Linda.
The remit of the General Synod Working Group on Clergy Wellbeing was outlined by Canon Simon Butler. This group, which reported in October 2018, is making recommendations on 14 facets of clergy wellbeing and the impact of this on renewal and reform in the Church.
Picking just one area– public ministry – Simon spoke of the demands on clergy to give significant time to the wider community and live in the public gaze, when many clergy are introverts.
Symposium delegates built on the learning from the morning sessions with facilitated small group discussion on two topics:
- What do you see as being achievable, affordable and sustainable for use in transforming clergy wellbeing nationwide?
- How do you see your organisation being involved?
Findings were shared in plenary at the close of the event.
Delegates’ feedback from the event was hugely positive, calling it ‘extremely useful’ and commenting that ‘the bringing together of different agencies and networks in this field was very valuable’.
‘We were delighted that delegates felt the symposium had taken steps towards us all working more effectively together for better clergy wellbeing,’ said St Luke’s CEO Dr Claire Walker. ‘There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the idea of meeting again to build on this momentum, and St Luke’s is planning a second symposium for autumn 2019.’