Education and Clergy Development partnered with Indiana Wesleyan University to hold the inaugural conference on clergy care. The Flourishing in Pastoral Ministry Conference, held on October 11, 2013, in Marion, Ind., explored “best theories and practices for fostering clergy wellness” from the perspective of various disciplines, including theology, Bible, church history, psychology, medicine and social science.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Everett Worthington, professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, addressed the nearly 100 participants on the topic of understanding self-condemnation, self-forgiveness, and how caregivers can help clergy. Presentations were given by 15 different scholars and experts from a variety of institutions and counseling centers including Houghton College, Indiana Wesleyan University, Asbury Theological Seminary, Regent University, Colorado Christian University, Alongside Ministry, St. Elizabeth Medical Center, and others. The papers addressed a variety of issues facing clergy including sexuality, pastoral identity, anxiety, burnout, marriage, and more. Participants greeted the conference with enthusiasm since there are few conferences that address this theme.
Russ Gunsalus, executive director of Education and Clergy Development, said this conference is an important step in addressing long-term clergy care issues by “creating a forum where thought leaders and lead practitioners can present and engage quality research to help clergy flourish for a lifetime of healthy, fit, and effective ministry.”
“I found the conference very refreshing,” said Dr. Ken Schenck, dean and professor at Wesley Seminary and member of the planning team. “It’s nice when a conference gives you words and categories for your intuitions and reorients you to the basic priorities of life.”
Inquiries about the conference papers and presentations can be directed to Dr. David Higle, director of clergy development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next year’s conference will take place at Indiana Wesleyan University, September 19, 2014.