Church of England's parliamentary body reaffirms commitment to tackling clergy stress and burnout

The Church of England reaffirmed its commitment to promoting the wellbeing of clergyToby Melville/Reuters

The Church of England is launching a 'Big Conversation' to combat clergy stress and burnout. 

The Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing was proclaimed an Act of Synod by the Church of England's parliamentary body on Monday, and will now be sent out to all 42 dioceses to formally adopt.

"What we are proposing this Synod does today in making an Act of Synod, is to make clear and unequivocal the mind of the church on a simple statement of commitment to one another, in our different roles, callings and responsibilities," he told the General Synod," said the Rev Canon Simon Butler, who headed the Working Group which drew up the Covenant.

"From such a statement, we believe that the potential for much good and much good fruit can emerge."

The Covenant was first approved by the July 2019 meeting of Synod. 

It invites parishes, dioceses and the wider church, as well as individual clergy, to share responsibility for the welfare of ordained ministers and their households.

"Conscious that such a calling is both a privilege and a demand, we commit together to promote the welfare of our clergy and their households," it reads.

"We undertake to work together to coordinate and improve our approach to clergy care and wellbeing so that the whole Church may flourish in the service of the mission of God." 

The Working Group established to draw up the Covenant recommended broadening the support available to clergy, including through coaching, consultancy or mentoring.

Training for the ordination should also cover awareness of stress and burnout, it said. 

As part of the 'Big Conversation' around clergy wellbeing, the document poses questions for parishes and ministers to consider, like whether they know where to turn for help or how to identify the warning signs of stress and burnout. 

Speaking about the need for a new approach in his presidential address, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "When the clergy are supported, nourished and able to flourish, the whole church can flourish."