THE physical and mental well-being of the clergy in the Church of England is to be addressed by a new working group set up in response to a General Synod debate in which the Archbishop of Canterbury said that being a parish priest was the “most stressful” work he had ever done (News, 7 July).
Archbishop Welby was responding to a report on clergy well-being, produced for the previous sessions in July, during which priests said that they had experienced “enormous stress”, including when responding to recent terror attacks in London and Manchester.
The Synod agreed that a working party should be established to bring proposals for a covenant (an idea inspired by the Armed Forces Covenant) back to the Synod by July 2019. Its 11 members, lay and ordained, were announced by the appointments committee earlier this month.
They include Canon Simon Butler, the author of the original report on well-being; the Bishop of Selby, Dr John Thomson, a former director of ministry in the diocese of Sheffield; Synod members; and present or former health professionals.
The Bishop of Woolwich, Dr Karowei Dorgu, and the lead chaplain of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation, Canon Margaret Whipp, have been listed as consultants.
Canon Butler said: “Such was the interest in serving on this working group, and the strength in depth of the insights and skills offered to the appointments committee, that we could have easily populated the working group twice over.
“This can only bode well for our work in developing a covenant for clergy well-being that draws on all that the Church is learning about how attending to the well-being of the clergy is vital to the mission and ministry of the whole Church.”
The Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, later told a charity gathering in London that the Church had become “too organisational and bureaucratic” and “fuelling” clergy stress.
The members of the working group are:
- Canon Lisa Battye, GS member and a former nurse who was until recently Area Dean of Salford.
- Canon Simon Butler, Prolocutor and group convenor of the Province of Canterbury.
- Debbie Child, Joint Diocesan Secretary of Leeds diocese.
- Dr Simon Clift, GS member and Consultant in Occupational Medicine.
- The Revd Preb Simon Cawdell, GS member and Convenor of Diocesan Clergy Chairs.
- Jan Korris, a trustee of St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy.
- The Vicar of All Saints’, Margaret Street, the Revd Preb Alan Moses, GS member.
- The Archdeacon of Knowsley & Sefton, the Ven. Pete Spiers, GS member.
- Jacqueline Stamper, former senior manager in Higher Education and GS member.
- The Bishop of Selby, Dr John Thomson, a former Director of Ministry in Sheffield diocese.
- Psychotherapist and GS member Dr Yvonne Warren.
- The Bishop of Woolwich, the Rt Revd Karowei Dorgu.
- Canon Margaret Whipp, Lead Chaplain, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation.