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Clergy advised on reducing stress of ministry transitions

21 April 2021

The report Moving In Power is part of the Church’s Living Ministry research project

STRATEGIES to help priests as they move through their working lives from ordination to retirement are set out in the latest findings of a long-term study of clergy well-being.

Moving In Power: Transitions in ordained ministry, published on Wednesday, is part of the Church’s Living Ministry research project. The ten-year study by the National Ministry Team began in 2017, and is based on two-yearly interviews with clergy ordained in 2006, 2011, and 2015, and people who entered training for ordination in 2016.

It examines their well-being on the basis of five dimensions: spiritual and vocational, physical and mental, relationships, financial and material, and participation in the wider Church.

The report is the fourth to be published from the project, and makes suggestions for good practice for the person in transition, as well as theological-education institutions, diocesan officers, senior clergy, parishes, and the national Church. It argues that they all have a part to play in supporting ordinands and clergy through periods of transition.

The director of the Living Ministry programme, Dr Liz Graveling, said: “Moving to a new role often involves immense upheaval. I hope the experiences shared in this study will assist dioceses and others in supporting ordained ministers as they navigate periods of transition.”

The programme is also contributing to work taking forward the Covenant on Clergy Care and Wellbeing, which seeks to help dioceses and churches promote and support the well-being of ordained ministers.

The practices advocated include:

  • ensuring that housing is adequate and ready in time for moving day, and allowing priests time to prepare families emotionally as well as practically for a move;
  • addressing cash-flow difficulties between the end of training grants and the start of curacy stipends, especially if curacies are delayed;
  • practical time-management support for new curates faced with juggling several new jobs at once;
  • active care and support for those in difficult transition periods: for example, ordinands struggling to find curacies, and curates struggling to find their next post;
  • work on personality-profiling and working relationships between curates and their training incumbents;
  • encouraging the priest to join local clubs and community groups and engage with local church networks;
  • senior clergy pro-actively “checking in” periodically on priests, especially during the early stages of a new post and as their retirement age approaches; and
  • support for those approaching retirement, up to ten years in advance of departure.

For more information, visit: churchofengland.org/living-ministry.

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