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Clergy Wellbeing: Diocesan support of clergy well-being

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In this section is a selection of means of support as we nurture one another in all the challenges of our diverse vocations.

Induction Programme

A substantial induction programme is in place for all incumbents, priests-in-charge, and others taking up their first role of responsibility in London Diocese. This includes:

  • Mentoring
  • New Incumbents Residential. A five day residential which explores diocesan culture, clergy support, vision and strategy planning, UBT, and other topics.
  • Fixed meetings in the first year with the Area Bishop, Archdeacon and Area Director of Ministry
  • Induction half day meeting with Senior Leadership Team at Diocesan House
  • Expected attendance at Safeguarding, Interfaith and Engaging with Difference day courses


Ministerial Development Review

London Diocese has a tried and tested MDR scheme which has been running for over 20 years. It has been refreshed and reviewed on a number of occasions. The scheme includes Extended Ministerial Review, a web-based tool based on incumbency core competencies, which offers organised feedback to clergy.

Importantly, the London scheme ensures ownership of the process stays with reviewees with clergy choosing their lay or clergy consultant from a list of trained consultants. MDR is supported by triennial Episcopal Review. The foundation, aim, objectives and processes are available here.



Two significant programmes are in place to assist clergy at points of transition (below), and a list of further information and additional resources is available online here on the Diocese’s website.

Your Next Move. A one day workshop to assist clergy in exploring the next steps in ministry. Although the day is well used by third year curates, it is open to any clergy and usually has a number of experienced clergy taking part. Further one-to-one coaching is available to those who wish to increase their confidence and skills levels in seeking new posts.

Preparing for Retirement. This three day residential is available to all licensed clergy over 58 years (and spouses) to help them consider a wide range of aspects of retirement. The residential considers physical, spiritual and psychological wellbeing in preparing for, and into retirement, as well as practical issues such as finance and housing. The residential always has a recently retired member of the clergy and a doctor as members of the core staff, and is attended by representatives of the Pensions Department and Ecclesiastical Financial Services. Clergy may sign up for the residential at any point after the age of 58 (ten years from the official retirement age) but may return for a ‘second go’ closer to retirement if this is helpful.


Ordinands Work

Directors of Ordinands are being increasingly encouraged to help candidates and ordinands consider the costs of ministry and to assist them in considering how best to prepare themselves for ministry. Towards Ordained Ministry now includes a session on the practical implications of training and ministry, such as finance, housing and location as well as working patterns.


Post Ordination Training

A great deal of emphasis in POT is given to wellbeing and encouraging good working / ministry practices. Regular time off, appropriate prayer time and having a good balance of time away from ministry for family, friends and self, are consistent themes. Training Incumbents are also encouraged to consider these issues for themselves and for their curates at the Training Incumbents Residential, where clear guidelines are spelt out to training incumbents, including modelling, boundaries and wellbeing. New deacons attend a four day residential to assist them in making a good transition into ministerial role.


Structural Support

Bishops, archdeacons, area directors of ministry, area deans, deans of BAME affairs and deans of women’s ministry all offer significant support, encouragement and intervention to clergy. This includes time spent with individuals and groups, referrals made and financial and other resources dedicated. Further, clergy chapters, clusters, networks and individuals offer on-going support and encouragement.


Less Formal and Informal Networks

There are also a wide range of formal, less formal and informal networks in operation across the diocese (and beyond), which act as support and encouragement for clergy. These include church-tradition networks, cell groups and organisations such as Sion College.


Clergy Retirement Officers

This area of support is a work in progress as the Diocese develops appropriate care and support for retired clergy (both active and inactive / less active). A list of current resources, including pensions and housing information, is available online here.


Support for SSMs and MSEs

Clergy training, support and development is available for all licensed and beneficed clergy, including Self Supporting Ministers and Ministers in Secular Employment who hold a licence in the Diocese. More information about the different types of ministry is available online here.

Conflict Resilience

A major factor which can affect clergy wellbeing can be issues of conflict. Avoiding conflicted situations or dealing with conflict inappropriately or ineffectually can lead to a host of related challenges ranging from loss of confidence, bullying and poor performance through to ill health. As a diocese we have put a high premium on conflict resilience training.

Clergy are encouraged to engage with Bridge Builders training courses (details here), and conflict resilience is included in other training offered internally. Courses run locally include Growing Bridge Builders and Gilmore Fraleigh.

The Mediation and Reconciliation Network run by Andrew Corsie (Willesden Area Director of Ministry) offers a wide range of opportunities to develop this work, including mediation and addressing chronic conflictual situations, and includes a number of lay and clergy experts in the field. For more information, contact Andrew Corsie or read more online here.


Employee and Clergy Assistance Programme

This service is anonymous, confidential and available to all clergy, by phone or online. Information on accessing this will be available shortly.


Dignity at work and work-place bullying

The Diocese’s Bullying and Harassment Policy is available here and includes information on safeguarding.

Reflective Practice Groups

A number of clergy reflective practice groups are now developing across the diocese. Encouragement to join such groups is coming from the experience of taking part in Action Learning Sets in substantive clergy training (eg New Incumbents Residential, Riverside Leadership Programme and Renewing Vision Renewing Ministry). This is a growing piece of work; it is encouraging to see these groups taking root. Please contact your Area Director of Ministry if you would like to join a group.


Spiritual Direction and Retreats

Every member of the clergy is expected to have a spiritual director or equivalent. A ‘match-making’ service is offered by the London Centre for Spiritual Direction (LCSD) to link people to potential Spiritual Directors. LCSD now has around 200 Spiritual Directors as members of its Community. LCSD hosts two training programmes for spiritual directors as well as on-going support, training and supervision.

All clergy are expected to take an annual retreat and there is a clear expectation that reasonable costs for this are met from normal ministry expenses.

Mentoring, Coaching & Consultancy

Through the Area Directors of Ministry, a comprehensive programme of mentoring, coaching and consultancy is offered to clergy. This includes

  • Mentoring. All new incumbents are allocated a trained mentor who is an experienced member of the clergy to walk alongside them for the first year to eighteen months in post. Mentoring is also available to any member of the clergy at any point in their ministry, in discussion with your Area Director of Ministry.
  • Coaching. Coaching by professional coaches is available on request or as an outcome of Ministerial Development Review. 3D Coaching is one of our main providers for this, but we also use a number of other professional coaches.
  • Coaching Training. Training in coaching techniques is offered (and encouraged) to senior clergy including bishops, archdeacons, directors of ministry, deans and directors of ordinands. 3D Coaching’s Transforming Conversations (here) is used for this training
  • Consultancy. Work and ministry consultancy is available to clergy. Some of this is paid and other pro bono. Consultancy can be offered to support a particular project and for clergy who require some on-going support or assistance in ministry.


Renewing Vision Renewing Ministry

RVRM is a residential programme which has been running successfully for over 10 years, offering experienced stipendiary clergy in their 50s the opportunity to stand back and review their ministry and think positively about the next (and final) stages of stipendiary ministry. The programme was set up as a direct response to the 2006 John Lee report From Frustration to Fulfilment and has been universally well-received by participants.


Riverside Leadership Programme

The Diocese of London has been running Leadership support and development programmes since 2000. Riverside is the latest iteration and has been running successfully across the diocese since 2013. The main focus of this (and all leadership development work) is to equip clergy in their leadership ministry for the church in the 21st Century.


Study Leave and Extended Leave

All licensed clergy may apply for a period of three months Study Leave after ten years in ordained ministry, and every subsequent ten years. A grant is available to support approved study leave. There is an insistence that a good amount of the three months (perhaps one month) is spend in rest and recuperation. Four financed Study Leaves are available per Episcopal Area, per year.

Common Tenure also allows for additional leave to be taken every seventh year, on top of standard leave allocation. Further, bishops may grant exceptional leave of up to three months to any member of the clergy at their discretion. For additional detail, please read through the Clergy Terms of Service, general information on study leave, and a list of available grants and expenses.

Free professional support for clergy

For clergy who are feeling in need of support, or who are experiencing difficult feelings, thoughts and circumstances, there are several organisations offering free support:

  • The Association of Christian Counsellors‘ (ACC) Covid-19 Crisis Counselling Service is offering up to 10 sessions of counselling on a no-fee basis, online or over the telephone. To access the service, download the self-referral form and email it to the ACC or call 0247 644 9694.
  • The British Psychoanalytic Association (BPA) is offering up to 6 FREE sessions by telephone or video to anyone seeking mental health support during these challenging times.
  • Employee and Clergy Assistance Programme: 24 hour counselling and advice services


Counselling and Therapy

Counselling and therapy, can be considered with partial funding in a variety of ways through the diocese. Where this may be appropriate, a conversation with bishop, archdeacon or area director of ministry is likely to be the first step, in confidence. The principle provider of counselling and therapy is St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre, although there are a number of other practitioners who are used across the diocese (including a small number of clergy).


The Stepney Area Support Scheme is available to clergy in the Stepney Episcopal Area, which uses locally based therapists and counsellors (by referral only).


St Luke’s Virtual Wellbeing Programme is updated every Monday, with all materials available to download as a PDF


Mental Health First Aid

This is being introduced across the diocese and more information will be available shortly.


Sheldon Hub

The excellent Sheldon Hub for clergy support and wellbeing, run by the Society of Mary and Martha, is now available for all clergy to use, free of charge. Details can be found here.


Vicarages and Clergy Safety

Increased emphasis on the care and upkeep of clergy houses continues to be a significant factor in improving clergy wellbeing. The initiative to install double glazing in all clergy houses is an excellent example of this, along with improved security.

There continue to be issues of vulnerability amongst clergy and their families who can receive unwanted callers and be the subject of unwanted attention where often vicarages are isolated, clearly recognisable and vulnerable. In general terms, clergy safety is an on-going concern.


Physical Health

The London staff have received the report Bodies of Christ: health, sport and whole-person ministry by the Revd Dr Jacqueline Cameron with Mark Balcar. The report emphasises the importance of physical wellbeing as a part of the whole picture of wellbeing for clergy and laity in the living out of the Gospel.

Issues such as inactivity (eg too much sitting), misuse of alcohol, over-eating and poor diet are noted as being major contributory factors to lack of wellbeing amongst clergy.

Dr Cameron is a core member of staff for both Renewing Vision Renewing Ministry and Preparing for Retirement, and has contributed to the Riverside Leadership Programme.

Clergy Household Support

Support is offered in various ways and places already, and we hope to grow this across the diocese as needed. We hope to find ways of answering practical questions, offering confidential support and arranging opportunities to meet – either virtually or in real life – for those who would like to.

The following links contain information about family friendly leave and grants for clergy and their families.

In 2021, the Diocese set up an email list for clergy spouses and partners. Participation isn’t mandatory and people need to opt in if they want to be part of it. We’re using the network to circulate information such as availability of grants for clergy households, sources of support etc. To sign up to this list the clergy spouse or partner needs to email clergyhouseholdsupport@nulllondon.anglican.org with the message: ‘I [enter your name] consent to my email address [enter email address] being added to the email distribution list for supporting clergy households’. The intention is not to inundate people with emails and they can, of course, ask to come off the list at any time. Further information on how personal data is looked after can be found in the diocese’s Privacy Notice.


Bishops’ Visitors

Bishop’s Visitors are asked by the Area Bishop to support and assist the clergy spouse or civil partner in the event of the breakdown of a relationship.

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