The Great Plains Conference will continue to provide clergy an opportunity to choose their own means of self-care.
Launched as a pilot program in 2021, clergy well-being grants will continue in the new year with a handful of changes, including a limit of $400 over a two-year period and two grant cycles, one Feb. 1 to May 1 and the other from Sept. 1 to Nov. 1.
“The goal is for those who are actively serving in ministry is to be thinking, ‘What can I do for my soul in an intentional way?’ This grant can provide financial assistance for those who need it in order to make it happen,” said the Rev. Ashlee Alley Crawford, clergy recruitment and development coordinator and interim director of clergy excellence.
Crawford and the Rev. Dr. Shelly Petz, clergy health and wellness consultant, said the grants can be used for a variety of purposes.
“We know that conference programs can’t always meet every need, and we’re hoping that clergy can use their creativity and figure out what works for them,” she said.
Past grant recipients have used the money to pay for pulpit supply, coordinate retreats, buy a bike, learn at the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness, lead a retreat for Hispanic clergy, get information on solving church conflicts, and join a health club, Petz said.
The two-year period will not pertain to those who received a grant during the pilot session, Crawford said.
Besides ordained clergy, district superintendent assignments and Certified Lay Ministers are eligible for the grants, they added.
“Everyone in the helping profession right now is overextended,” Crawford said. “This is a reminder and an invitation for clergy to take seriously their own soul, their body, their heart and their mind and to put some energy into coming up for a plan for spiritual growth.
“This is a reminder for our clergy serving local churches to take that seriously,” she added. “We are encouraging it so strongly that we are giving some financial resources to make it happen.”
Although the limit is $400 for each pastor, Petz said the conference is encouraging congregations to provide matching funds.
“We’re hoping that churches can incorporate some of the costs as well,” she said. “Make sure that you have self-care and spiritual time built in. Hopefully the churches can help support in years going forward as well.”
Petz said surviving the pandemic has proven that self-care is a necessity for clergy.
“If we can take care of our bodies, minds and spirits, what a difference that will make for our ministries,” she said.
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