A new report from the Duke Clergy Health Initiative explores the state of health of North Carolina’s United Methodist clergy. Drawing on data from the initiative’s 2014 statewide survey of 1,788 clergy, the report highlights demographics, key facets of life in ministry, and measures of pastors’ spiritual, mental, and physical health.
The 2014 data suggest that most clergy have a vital relationship with God. This spiritual health may have a buoying effect on clergy’s mental well-being: 68 percent of clergy are flourishing, a measure of positive mental health. Though still high, rates of moderate to severe depression symptoms among currently appointed clergy declined from 11 percent in 2008, when the survey was first conducted, to 9 percent in 2014. Maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge for many currently appointed clergy, with 41 percent of men and 38 percent of women qualifying as obese. Many clergy are also at risk for other metabolic risk factors, including diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Through the survey, clergy identified areas of strength in the congregations they serve. The vast majority of clergy rate their congregations as being gifted in areas such as seeing youth as assets and welcoming people to the church. However, more than half believe their congregations to be challenged by the tasks of embracing change and enabling members to use their gifts to serve the church and community.
The roles and actions of many people within the church have a bearing on clergy health, so alongside the data are suggestions of actions clergy, congregants, and denominational officials can take to support the well-being of pastors.
Read the report (pdf).
Every other year since 2008, the Duke Clergy Health Initiative has conducted a survey of all United Methodist clergy across the state. Participation in each wave of the study has ranged from 75-95 percent of clergy. The next survey will take place in 2016.
The Duke Clergy Health Initiative is funded by a grant from The Duke Endowment, a private nonprofit foundation located in Charlotte, N.C. Learn more at www.clergyhealthinitiative.org.