The Flourishing in Pastoral Ministry conference took place at Azusa Pacific University on September 23. Co-sponsored by Education and Clergy Development (ECD), this annual, one-of-a kind event is devoted to researchers, professional counselors and others from a variety of fields. The central purpose of the conference is to explore best practices, systems and supports for clergy health and well-being.

Participants heard Dr. Matthew Bloom, associate professor in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, as keynote speaker. Bloom created the Flourishing in Ministry Project, a Lilly Endowment sponsored study focused on the well-being of clergy and their families. ECD is partnering with Bloom in the study to garner research on the well-being of clergy within The Wesleyan Church. Bloom’s national research shows four broad inter-relating factors that contribute to clergy flourishing in ministry:

  • everyday happiness (daily sense of emotional well-being)
  • resilience (ability to withstand rigors of ministry)
  • self-integrity (authenticity and ministry fit with capabilities and values)
  • thriving (deep sense of call)

Bloom also stated that the top five factors influencing clergy well-being are (in order of importance):

  • positive relationship with congregants
  • spousal support
  • relationships with other pastors
  • relationships with family and friends
  • support from judicatory leaders

Breakout sessions offered presentations of other topics and research like how pastors who flourish maintain positive mental health, compassion and self-compassion in ministry, marital intensives for clergy couples, understanding the trauma clergy experience in urban ministry and more.

“This conference offers a unique and much-needed platform for public sharing of important, cutting-edge research and best practices so we can help clergy and their families to flourish for a lifetime of ministry,” said Rev. Russ Gunsalus, ECD executive director.

Rev. Dave Higle, ECD director of Clergy Care, noted how partnering with other denominations for the betterment of clergy well-being is creating greater synergy and sharing of resources.

“There were several key clergy caregivers of other denominations and other partners, such as Full Strength Network, present to discuss how we can partner even more to promote clergy well-being everywhere,” said Higle.

ECD has announced the next Flourishing in Pastoral Ministry Conference will be held Saturday, September 29, 2018, at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana.