| 3.1°C Belfast


Creative online ways to reach out to the clergy during uncertain times

Fr Martin Magill



Close

'After facilitation, the group developed a greater sense of its role, which in turn led to setting up a website (care4clergy.com), a Facebook page (care4clergy) and a YouTube channel.' (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

'After facilitation, the group developed a greater sense of its role, which in turn led to setting up a website (care4clergy.com), a Facebook page (care4clergy) and a YouTube channel.' (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

'After facilitation, the group developed a greater sense of its role, which in turn led to setting up a website (care4clergy.com), a Facebook page (care4clergy) and a YouTube channel.' (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

In my last column, I wrote about an article written by a Baptist pastor, Jakob Topper from Oklahoma, who described some of the issues facing pastors during these pandemic times.

The title of his powerful article, "Too many pastors are falling on their swords", acknowledged for some clergy how the pressure had become too much, leading them to take their own lives.

In this week's contribution, I want to follow up with suggestions of sources of support for clergy and Christian leaders, as we minister in these times of uncertainty.

For the most part, I will focus on an inter-Church group called Care 4 Clergy, of which I am a member.

The group was set up following an interview carried by BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence on the care of clergy, which included Presbyterian minister Rev Gabrielle Farquhar, who had at that time the role of care for clergy and manse families.

Following the programme, a few clergy from the larger denominations began to meet to discuss the health and well-being of those in ministry.

In doing so, we discovered similar issues affecting clergy across the denominations.

After facilitation, the group developed a greater sense of its role, which in turn led to setting up a website (care4clergy.com), a Facebook page (care4clergy) and a YouTube channel.

The website offers signposts to locate a spiritual director, counsellor, coach, or supervisor.

Over the past number of months, the group has held a number of panel discussions on various issues affecting clergy, including dealing with stress, the value of supervision and spiritual direction.

Each Wednesday, on the group Facebook page, there is a weekly contribution, Wednesday Wisdom, aimed to encourage and support clergy and Christian leaders.

The most recent was by Rick Hill, the discipleship officer from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Next Wednesday's will be given by Rev Alan Lorimer, a Methodist minister and a chartered psychotherapist working in a project called Well.com.

During the month of October, in which there is the annual World Mental Health Day on October 10, the focus of Wednesday Wisdom will be on the mental health of clergy.

In addition, the group has organised its first webinar, entitled "Working creatively in ministry through challenging times", which takes place on Thursday, September 24, with the following taking part: Belinda Briggs, Rev Mark Glover, Rev Adrian McCartney, Fr Eugene O'Neill and Pastor Michelle Scott.

Each of these over these last few months has been doing some very creative things online to reach out to their congregations and beyond.

Hosted by Care 4 Clergy member Rev Jared Stephens, they will be invited to share what it was like "keeping the faith during these pandemic times".

They will talk about what went well, what didn't go so well and some of their learning.

There will be an opportunity for those who register for the webinar to ask the panel questions.

The purpose of these webinars is to be a support and encouragement to clergy and Christian leaders as they continue to minister during times of uncertainty.

It is hoped, as described in the outcomes from the webinar, that those who take part will have "a sense of empowerment and excitement for the new opportunities offered" and will be "ready to explore new tools to enhance their ministry and be able to access support for initiatives they would like to attempt".

Further details of the webinar and how to register can be found at care4clergy.com.

In the months ahead, the Care 4 Clergy group would welcome suggestions of resources and support that would be helpful to people in ministry during these times.

Fr Martin Magill is parish priest of St John's, Belfast

Apt Bible readings

Some Scripture readings for the week ahead:

Monday: Ephesians 4:11-13

Tuesday: Psalm 9:9-10

Wednesday: Psalm 34:10

Thursday: Isaiah 40:31

Friday: Romans 8:31

Belfast Telegraph