Campbell University Divinity School will address the difficult topic of pastor health in a June 2 gathering at the university’s main campus in Buies Creek, N.C.
The purpose of the inaugural Pastor’s Health Summit is to inspire ministers to take better care of themselves, mentally and physically, and also to help them better care for their congregations, the divinity school said in an online announcement.
Breakout sessions will cover topics like grief and trauma, balancing family and pastoral demands, nutrition, exercise, mental health and depression.
The summit comes at a time of heightened concern for clergy mental health and self-care.
Writing for Christianity Today, LifeWay Research’s Ed Stetzer recently wrote that mental health is an issue Christians should embrace.
But LifeWay research shows that they tend to run from it instead. Asked how often pastors speak to their churches about mental illness, only 3 percent said that happens several times a month. However, 66 percent said it happens once, rarely or never in a year’s time.
“As I see the widespread presence and pain of mental illness, another reality confronts me: oftentimes Christians struggle with talking about and understanding mental illness,” Stetzer wrote in his May 23 article.
These attitudes often make churches unsafe places for those suffering with psychological issues.
“This truth stretches from the top down,” Stetzer wrote. ”The sad reality of our present church culture is that if a pastor were to talk about the mental illness with which they’re struggling, the next church or organization to which they apply will likely choose another candidate.”
Pastors across North Carolina are invited to the summit which includes free health screenings, the divinity school said.
“The sessions will permit pastors to take measures to care for themselves,” Jeffrey Sholar, senior pastor of Cedar Falls Baptist Church in Fayetteville, said in the Campbell announcement. “We as ministers often struggle with self-care and this summit will help us turn our focus inward for a day.”