Letter to clergy regarding time off and wellbeing from Bishop Rachel, April 2018

Published: April 6, 2020

To:  All Licensed Clergy, 11 April 2018

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…(1 Peter 1:1-4)

Happy Eastertide.  I hope that as you read this you have had or are planning some days of rest and holiday.

Thank you once again for the mission and ministry you live, enable and support.  It was wonderful to see so many of you at the Maundy Thursday Eucharist in the Cathedral and I continue to be hugely encouraged by what I see and hear whilst also being aware of the many different pressures experienced by clergy and the effect this can have on spouses, partners, friends and families.  There has been much in the national and church press about clergy well-being and it seems appropriate to write to you in this season of new life regarding what is expected and encouraged in this diocese regarding ‘time off’ and frameworks of support.

This information has been updated in the clergy handbook on our website, and will be in each new Statements of Particulars we issue from 1 April.   SoPs of course provide the legal framework, but we all recognise that different weeks and months throughout the year will have varying pressures.

www.gloucester.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Section-6-Clergy-Welfare-and-Wellbeing-rev-2018.pdf

I hope you will also find these theological reflections helpful.

Annual leave and time ‘off’

  • Every week: Licensed stipendiary clergy are expected to take a full 24 hours off from the business of daily ministry each week and when possible attach that to a second day with a slower rhythm than the rest of the week.
  • Every month: All clergy are encouraged to plan for two full ‘days off’ once a month.
  • Every year: Annual holiday allowance is six full weeks including 6 Sundays.  Clergy are also expected to take 5 days retreat each year.  (Continued Ministerial Development funds can help with costs)

Planning and communication

Taking time out of the usual routine and weaving in rest and refreshment requires planning well ahead of time to ensure that cover is in place, as well as  communicating widely so that colleagues including wardens and other lay leaders are fully informed.

If anyone is concerned that church wardens or worshipping communities are not being supportive in enabling sufficient time off for rest, family and friends, this should be discussed with them in the first instance.  If there are conflicting views and understanding regarding the rhythm of ministry this might be something to talk over with the Archdeacon.

School governance

The Diocesan Board of Education has recently issued advice to incumbents of Multi Parish Benefices with more than one church school.  Your Area Dean has hopefully circulated a copy of this advice and it can also be found at

www.gloucester.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Incumbents-Multi-Parish-Benefices-with-more-than-one-church-school-governance-advice-1.pdf

Support

In addition to what is outlined above, it is important that you have in place good pastoral, ministerial and spiritual support.  This might include membership of an action learning group, a work consultant, use of ‘The Sheldon Hub’ or on occasion a counsellor.  It should certainly include a spiritual director or equivalent.  There are more details of all this and how to access support at the end of the attached paper.

Finally, I would encourage you to share this letter with churchwardens, PCCs, ministry teams and colleagues in your context.

As you journey through Eastertide, may you discover yet more of what it means to live life in all its fullness.

This comes with my gratitude and prayers as ever.

Yours sincerely

Bishop Rachel

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