October 6, 2021
October is recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month by many denominations, including the United Methodist Church. As such, this is the perfect time for churches and community leaders to express their gratitude to the clergy in their lives.
This is particularly true in 2021 as during the last two years clergy have faced increasing levels of stress due to COVID-19, racial injustices, political divisions and denominational conflict. Indeed, results of a recent Clergy Well-being Survey by Wespath* indicate overall clergy health has declined over the past decade.
During the past several years the Holston Conference has been working to provide a healthier ministry environment for clergy. Examples of our efforts include:
- Clergy covenant groups, individual, couples and family counseling, Sexual Ethics in Ministry training and an emphasis on Clergy Sabbath sponsored by the Center for Wellbeing;
- Ministries in discipleship and other spiritual growth activities;
- Sabbath retreat time offered by our camp and retreat centers;
- Articles of hope and positivity published in The Call;
- An expanded initiative on clergy financial well-being and seminary scholarships offered through the Holston United Methodist Foundation and
- The tireless work of the Appointive and Extended Cabinets in leading and guiding churches and pastors throughout the pandemic.
Our Pastor/Staff-Parish Relations Committees are invited to partner with us in addressing concerns about clergy well-being by:
- Encouraging pastors to take regular days off, use their vacation, and schedule renewal time. (God set the example for this by resting on the seventh day in the Creation narrative and Jesus regularly observed Sabbath and time away from the crowds for renewal.)
- Ensuring clergy are aware of the Center for Wellbeing available to clergy and families in the Holston Conference;
- Facilitating meaningful observances of Pastor Appreciation Month this October. Two links that list several ideas for how to do this are: https://www.wespath.org/assets/1/7/4775.pdf and https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/showing-appreciation-for-your-pastor/.
I invite you to join the Conference leadership team and me in expressing encouragement and support to the clergy in the Holston Conference. How blessed we are with the positive difference Holston clergy make in the lives of so many people.
It is a joy to serve as your bishop.
Holston and North Alabama Conferences
*Wespath is a general agency of The United Methodist Church that focuses on pension and health benefits of those they serve.
The Reverend Dr. Debra Wallace-Padgett was elected a Bishop of the United Methodist Church at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. At the time of her election, she was the lead pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, ...