Clergy are struggling. They’re over-extended. They’re anxious.
Many are reaching the point of burnout, and some have already walked away from local church leadership due to the overwhelming challenges they’ve faced.
Additional time away for rest and renewal is vital for the health of clergy and congregations.
These observations and convictions are at the heart of a new initiative: #RespiteForRevs.
A GoodFaithMedia.org column by Mitch Randall, CEO of GFM, about the struggles and stress clergy have been facing during the pandemic led to a dialogue with the leaders of BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty), Baptist News Global, Baptist Women in Ministry, Good Faith Media and Passport, about how the organizations could help.
The result was the creation of a joint initiative to offer some assistance in the form of respite care.
Respite for Revs is based on a simple appeal to local churches: provide your minister an extra week off from preaching or teaching, and a staff member from one of the five organizations will preach or teach in their place at no cost to the congregation.
“The #RespiteForRevs Collective is committed to assisting local churches in their attempt to care for our clergy,” the leaders of BJC, BNG, BWIM, GFM and Passport said.
“The past 18 months have taken a toll on the men and women who have committed their lives to care for us,” they said. “It is now time we reciprocated their life-long efforts. Because we know they love us, let us show them the love they deserve by the simple act of providing extra respite time.”
While clergy can certainly reach out to participate, many might be hesitant to request additional time off from their congregations.
So, lay leaders who recognize the benefit of this respite-care offer are encouraged to coordinate with the organizations directly and then make the offer to their ministers for an additional Sunday off.
In-person or virtual visits will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Preaching in a Sunday morning service might be the most obvious form of respite care, but clergy who don’t preach regularly are also in need of support.
So, all five organizations are open to requests to lead a mid-week Bible study for adults, youth or children – and Passport would also be able to consider requests to provide a worship / music minister with a Sunday of respite care.
Let’s help our clergy. Let’s be friends helping friends. It’s within our collective power — yours and ours — to help.
Can your house of worship give them a break?
If so, contact any of the organizations below to explore being a part of the Respite for Revs initiative, which will extend through Eastertide 2022:
BJC: Christine Rigodon, bjc@BJConline.org, 202-544-4226
Baptist News Global: Mark Wingfield, email@example.com, 214-205-2763
Baptist Women in Ministry: Meredith Stone, firstname.lastname@example.org, 404-513-6022
Good Faith Media: Autumn Lockett, email@example.com, 615-627-7763
Baptist Women in Ministry of North Carolina: Ka’thy Gore Chappell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wake Forest University School of Divinity: Natalie Aho, email@example.com, 336-758-4416
Diana R. Garland School of Social Work: Gaynor Yancey, Gaynor_Yancey@baylor.edu, 254-710-6424
If your organization would like to join the collective, please contact Mitch Randall, firstname.lastname@example.org, for further information.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include additional organizations that joined the collective after it was announced.
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