Church of England clergy to be offered mentoring and coaching to support improved wellbeing

(Photo: Unsplash/Aaron Burden)

The Church of England has committed to doing more to support the wellbeing of clergy and their families.

A Covenant on Clergy Care and Well-Being was adopted by the General Synod, the parliamentary body of the Church of England, over the weekend. 

The covenant has been adopted to help ministers deal with stress and other pressures arising from their roles, which are often carried out in settings that are socially complex or isolated.

A range of measures, including mentoring and coaching, are being introduced to help them cope with the demands of their ministry, bringing the Church of England more in line with the kind of support provided to those who work in other caring professions. 

Synod members also voted in favour of plans to ensure that training for ordained ministry includes awareness of stress and burnout.

Under the plans, new resources will be developed for licensing and induction services that cover the care and wellbeing of clergy.

Clergy job descriptions will also be subject to regular review to ensure that they present ministers with a realistic picture of what they are being asked to do.

It is hoped that the changes will lead to greater coordination between individual parishes and dioceses in the care of clergy and their households. 

The working group charged with drawing up the covenant identified the need for a "culture change" with the Church. 

"What we propose offers a direction in which the church can shape its own culture towards greater concern for the health and wellbeing of its ordained ministers. It will be for the whole church to work at changing the culture," it said. 

The Rev Canon Simon Butler, who headed the working group, said: "There is a widespread acknowledgment that we can and must do better to support clergy in ways that promote good practice and prevent occasional stress becoming a harmful and chronic condition.

"It will be a great boost to many clergy to see the General Synod taking a lead, and I hope to see the wider church following in the coming months."