Dear Colleagues,In this summer season when taking a break is expected and encouraged, I thought that it might be timely to draw your attention to an August 1, 2010 New York Times article entitled: “Taking a Break From the Lord’s Work” The entire article is available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/nyregion/02burnout.html Here are a few excerpts from it.
The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could. Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy.
But while research continues, a growing number of health care experts and religious leaders have settled on one simple remedy that has long been a touchy subject with many clerics: taking more time off. “We had a pastor in our study group who hadn’t taken a vacation in 18 years,” said Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, an assistant professor of health research at Duke University who directs one of the studies. “These people tend to be driven by a sense of a duty to God to answer every call for help from anybody, and they are virtually called upon all the time, 24/7.” As cell phones and social media expose the clergy to new dimensions of stress, and as health care costs soar, some of the country’s largest religious denominations have begun wellness campaigns that preach the virtues of getting away. It has been described by some health experts as a sort of slow-food movement for the clerical soul……
Some nondenominational evangelical Christian ministers have embraced a similar approach, outlined in two best-selling books by the Rev. Peter Scazzero, pastor of the New Life Fellowship Church3 in Elmhurst, Queens. Mr. Scazzero, 54, is the unofficial leader of a growing counterculture among independent pastors who reject the constant-growth ethic that has contributed to the explosion of so-called mega-churches. In the books, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” and “The Emotionally Healthy Church,” he advocates more vacation time for members of the clergy, Sabbath-keeping, and a “rhythm of stopping,” or daily praying, that he learned from the silent order of Trappist monks. Mr. Scazzero said that depression and alienation from his wife and four children prompted him a half-dozen years ago to try living more consciously and less compulsively. “It’s hard to lead a contemplative life on Queens Boulevard,” Mr. Scazzero said. “But the insight I gained from the Trappists is that being too ‘busy’ is an impediment to one’s relationship with God.”
Clergy health studies say that many clerics have “boundary issues” — defined as being too easily overtaken by the urgency of other people’s needs. Dr. Gwen Wagstrom Halaas, a family physician who is married to a Lutheran minister and who wrote a 2004 book raising the alarm about clergy health (“The Right Road: Life Choices for Clergy”), described the problem as a misperception about serving God. “They think that taking care of themselves is selfish, and that serving God means never saying no,…Larger social trends, like the aging and shrinking of congregations, the dwindling availability of volunteers in the era of two-income households, and the likelihood that a male pastor’s wife has a career of her own, also spur some ministers to push themselves past their limits,” she said….
In May, the Clergy Health Initiative, a seven-year study that Duke University began in 2007, published the first results of a continuing survey of 1,726 Methodist ministers in North Carolina. Compared with neighbors in their census tracts, the ministers reported significantly higher rates of arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. Obesity was 10 percent more prevalent in the clergy group. The results echoed recent internal surveys by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which found that 69 percent of its ministers reported being overweight, 64 percent having high blood pressure and 13 percent taking antidepressants…
Catholic canon law requires priests — “unless there is a grave reason to the contrary” — to take a spiritual retreat each year, and four weeks of vacation. That vacation regulation has led Msgr. Gus Bennett of Brooklyn to take a camping trip on horseback in the Wyoming wilderness with friends every year for 30 years. Monsignor Bennett, 87, a canon lawyer, now semi-retired, who spent most of his working years setting up and managing the pension plan for priests and lay employees of the Diocese of Brooklyn, says he has always felt his religious side to be most alive during those nights in Wyoming, “sleeping on the ground, under the whole of creation.” He does not know how it affected his health. “I just know it made it easier to come back and jump into the books,” he said.
There are some interesting links to wellness research at the end of the article, but my main point in bringing this article to your attention is to urge you to take responsibility for appropriate self care.
Donna and I were able to drop in for an evening service at Pine Orchard Family Camp last week. It was great to hear that the ministries at the camp were going well and to sit under David Moran’s ministry. A good number of people responded at the end of the service and we sensed that the Holy Spirit was moving in their hearts as they were seeking God. No pics though as I didn’t have my camera.
There are several appointment announcements this week. See below.
Please pray for the “Systems Analysis Task Team” that meets for three days Tuesday-Friday this week.
P.S. Remember. If you are wondering about something related to the FMCIC and its ministry, please send your question to the Ministry Centre.
Have a look at Dan Sheffield’s blog: http://sheffield.typepad.com
Trevor Swanson – September 12, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. at New Hope FMC, Newmarket, ON.
– Brian Eschbach – Located at Dryden FMC
– Stanley Hanna – Released for Service Beyond the Denomination – St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Gatineau, QC
– Harold Fox – Credentials Deposited as per Par. 845.
CHURCHES IN TRANSITION
Bramalea FMC, Brampton, ON
Surrey FMC, Surrey, BC
Profiles available / Director of Personnel receiving resumes
Arlington Woods FMC, Ottawa, ON
Asbury FMC, Perth, ON (Alan Adams, Interim)
Avonlea FMC, Avonlea, SK
Barrie FMC, Barrie, ON
Harrowsmith FMC, Harrowsmith, ON
Queensway FMC, Niagara Falls, ON (Tom Gurnick, Interim)
Trulls Road FMC, Courtice, ON (Vic Stonehouse, Interim)
Vennachar FMC, Vennachar, ON
Westport FMC, Westport, ON
Functioning with approved local arrangements
Butternut Creek, Kingston, ON (Bob Boutilier)
Campbell’s Bay FMC, Campbell’s Bay, QC (Orville White)
Charlemont FMC, Wallaceburg, ON (Paul Gast)
Eastern Koinonia, Toronto, ON (Javed Jamil)
Enterprise FMC, Enterprise, ON
Killarney FMC, Killarney, MB (Raymond Riglin)
Mainstreet Community Church, Kelowna, BC (Shonu Ghosh)
Malvern Chinese, Toronto, ON (K.K. Leung)
Mississippi FMC, Mississippi, ON (Jack Bradley)
Richmond Hill Chinese & English Churches, Richmond Hill, ON (K.K. Leung)
Roblin FMC, Roblin, MB (Heath Butler)
St Joseph Island FM Church, Hilton Beach, ON (Adrian Collins)
Timmins FMC, Timmins, ON (Lewis Byer)
Wawota FMC, Wawota, SK (Kevan Sears)
Wyevale FMC, Wyevale, ON
Yarker FMC, Yarker, ON (Ken Babcock)
PASTORS IN TRANSITION
William (Rusty) Crozier
2010 FMCIC MINISTERS CONFERENCES
September 28-30 – Wesley Acres
October 5-7 – Entheos Retreat Centre (near Calgary)