Pastors to Pastors

Who ministers to the ministers?

Congregational ministry is challenging work and when clergy suffer in their work, congregations also suffer. The Pastors to Pastors Program focuses on the importance of clergy renewal. Based on small clergy peer groups, mentored by experienced, carefully selected pastors, ministers take part in transformational retreats over a year. Participants have experienced significant growth in critical areas, e.g., spiritual vitality, leadership effectiveness, stress processing, and personal awareness.

Since 2007, Duke Divinity School has been analyzing the conditions that potentially affect clergy health: physical, mental and spiritual. Based on a longitudinal study on a large cohort of Methodist ministers in North Carolina, a picture is emerging on the significance to clergy health of an environment shaped by congregations and denominational polities. The nature of this created environment can either enhance or thwart the ministry of a pastor. The results of project point to several significant issues some of which are:

  • a minister’s spiritual well-being is directly associated with mental health
  • factors that affect mental health include financials, demands of parishioners, unpredictability of work and social support
  • higher risk of chronic disease associated with relative higher incidence of obesity among both men and women, elements that are in part related to stress
  • While no comparable systematic study has ever been attempted among ministers of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, anecdotal accounts as well as perceptions point to a need for a similar health initiative here. PCC polity clearly places on the Presbytery the responsibility for the care of our ministers.

The Book of Forms has a detailed section on the judicial process affecting ministers, but it doesn’t offer as much detail on healing and restoration of ministers in crisis. Presbyteries with its investigative committees and commissions may not be fully empowered to address crisis issues with respect to the well-being of ministers.

The College has established a “Pastors to Pastors” program structured to address this gap in the life of a minister. It is based on the peer-to-peer model successfully used in the College’s mentoring program, and adapted to the particular context of ministers looking for spiritual renewal in a nurturing and safe environment.

For more information on Pastors to Pastors, please contact the Rev. Dr. Dale Woods.
Send an email to Rev. Dale Woods
Or give us a call: 514-288-5256