It’s been an interesting few months for me, but one thing that has been on my mind, and in my heart is asking for and getting support in my ministry. Support for myself as a minister and priest, and for other clergy, is extremely important, especially from our peers. There is a lot of stuff in dealing with groups, covens, and congregations that is common to all clergy-type folk, regardless of tradition.
I’ve read too many articles in the last few years about clergy burnout. Granted, most of the articles were specific to Christian clergy, but I’ve seen it happen with Pagan, Jewish, and other clergy as well. A large part of the burnout comes from feeling isolated in one’s calling, where the clergy person feels not only like they are going things alone, but that there’s no one else they can talk to about it.
This is one ministry I’ve felt for awhile now that is particularly needed, both online and in person. Sometimes, it just needs to be started, and so I’ve created some ways clergy can come together and support each other.
The description and details of these ministries are also found on the Clergy Support Ministry page.
There are two online communities that are for any clergy from anywhere, particularly for those who are in areas where they don’t have much support, or could use some extra support that is outside their tradition. Sometimes it takes someone completely outside your group or congregation to give you a better perspective on a particular situation.
The first is 1st Friday Clergy Chat. This is a monthly chat on the first Friday of the month via Skype from 8 pm to 10 pm Pacific time (11 pm – 1 am Eastern). For some people, it’s better to be able to talk to people face to face, and Skype is a great way to do that. There is a chat this coming Friday (which got moved because of the July 4th holiday.)
The second, especially for those who are more partial to email, is a new Yahoo group called the (highly unoriginal) Interfaith Clergy Support Group. As with the 1st Friday Chat, this is open to all clergy from anywhere.
In-Person (South Bay SF Bay Area)
My other pastor friend, Deb, and I were talking the other day about how the South Bay doesn’t have quite as much clergy support as the East Bay does. So, we’re going to be starting a monthly dinner gathering for clergy starting in September. Tentatively, it’ll be the 2nd Monday of the month at some place like Denny’s or Hobee’s. If you’re interested in attending, please contact me or join the email list.
I hope that by providing these options for clergy that we can help and support each other to help prevent burn out, and ultimately, help us from leaving our callings. I look forward to talking to my colleagues and helping each other out!
ETA: Some of you might ask why I’m not using Facebook for this ministry. There are two main reasons for this:
First, Facebook is still booting people off its site because of the “Real Names” policy. I think this policy is ridiculous and damaging. I also know that there are many clergy who are either transgender or differently gendered who could possibly be affected by this policy, and I would not want them to lose their support community if it happened.
Second, given Facebook’s algorithms, only a partial subset of the group would get posts on a regular basis, which, in my opinion, limits meaningful interaction. If someone asks for help in a particular area, it could be likely that another person from that area, who’s in the Facebook group, may never see the post or know that it got posted.
There is also the fact that not everyone is on, or wants to be on, Facebook. Having an email list and using Skype allows for the most people to be able to participate.
I hope you understand my reasons for this. If folks would like to connect through Facebook, you’re welcome to use the This Week In Heresy page to do so.