Clergy Health Initiative
The Clergy Health Initiative, funded by The Duke Endowment, is a collaborative initiative between the Duke Divinity School and the Duke Global Health Institute, giving it a strong theological underpinning and the excellence of Duke’s research environment. We collect data, and design and test intervention programs for UMC North Carolina clergy to improve physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
The SEM Study is part of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative and is the first major longitudinal study examining divinity school education. Our aim is ambitious: to paint the most comprehensive picture of how divinity school students are formed throughout their training and into the early stages of their careers. Through this, we hope to spark informed conversations about divinity school education and to shape the future of ministry.
We are available for conversations, presentations, and collaborative work around clergy health and well-being. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
The Selah Stress Management Trial Findings Are In
In the video above, Jason Villegas, a North Carolina UMC pastor, discusses the role stress plays in his vocation and how Selah made an impact on his ministry. Given that ministry is both a fulfilling, yet inherently stressful vocation, Villegas says, “The question isn’t, ‘Can we make our lives less stressful?’ The question is, ‘Given that we’re in a stressful profession, how are we going to protect ourselves from that stress?’"
The Selah trial rigorously tested three stress-reduction practices: The Daily Examen, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction, and Stress Proofing. The results showed statistically significant declines in stress symptoms. See detailed results (pdf).
What We're Learning
The Clergy Health Initiative has been collecting data in many forms—including a longitudinal survey, focus groups, interviews, and biometric data—from United Methodist clergy in North Carolina since 2008. We are currently researching the practices of pastors whose mental and physical health is flourishing to identify strategies that can be applied by other clergy.