News & Resources

Dec 22, 2016

A Busy Year for Clergy Care

I’d like to share with you an update of our work over the past year.

The Center has hosted two Clergy Conferences, along with Baptist Hospital, one in April and one in November of this year. The April conference was a Clergy Health Fair. We hosted 120 pastors who were involved in numerous activities including real-time lipid profiles, Beck Depression Inventories, and consultations with Healthy Lives of Baptist Healthcare, the YMCA, and Running Wild. Other important groups such as Higher Ground, USA, Landrum Support Services, and specialists focusing on the ancient tradition of the Enneagram were on hand for consultation. It was a good day and I continue to hear positive comments regarding the Clergy Conference. In November of this year, we hosted a “Understanding Your Workstyle” seminar, which was limited to 70 participants. This was an opportunity for pastors, and their non-ordained support staff, to engage in dialogue around workstyles in an attempt at building teamwork and improved communication amongst support staff in an ecumenical setting.

I have been able to conduct two Clinical Pastoral Education Units involving 12 students. All of these students are mandated by their faith group to complete a Unit of CPE prior to ordination.

In September of this year the Center, hosted a seven-week Mental Health Symposium as St. Christopher Episcopal Church in Pensacola. The seven Wednesday night presentations covered a wide range of topics including depressive, disorders, suicide, anxiety disorders and a general presentation related to pastoral care with those who struggle with these issues. We averaged approximately 70 people per night for a total of almost 500 people for the seven-week series.

I am presently involved in a support group with six local clergy, most of who are in their first call. This has proven to be a worthwhile support group for these pastors.

The bulk of my time continues to be spent in the area of pastoral counseling with clergies and families of clergy. On any given week, I am sitting with anywhere from 15-20 clergy, each week, who present a number of psychological, physical and spiritual issues. By the end of this year the Center will have provided over 1000 hours of pastoral counseling to this group.

I have now become the designated psychologist to complete evaluations for the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. These evaluations are completed for aspirants who are discerning a call into pastoral ministry. I continue to do this same work for the Alabama/West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.

What may be the most important work of the Center are the numerous phone calls, two to three times per week, from pastors who are engaged with parishioners and are not clear how to proceed. This could have to do with Baker Act information, intervention for suicidal behavior, or need for inpatient drug and alcohol treatment.

As Bishop Russell Kendrick, the recently installed Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast said, “much of your work is quiet.” Indeed, it is. The Center has become a quiet and safe place for clergy to unravel the same issues in their lives that plague their parishioners.

2017 will be equally busy year. Plans for the second Clergy Health Fair are in process. The date for this event is April 3, 2017, again being hosted at the Hilton Garden Inn on Airport Boulevard. The CPE Supervisor at Baptist Hospital who replaced me in January of 2016 will be out on maternity leave beginning January 18, 2017 I will return to the hospital to supervise the students for an eight-week period.

There was some success in 2016 in beginning to consult with church staffs as it relates to understanding workstyles, conflict management and team building. It is my hope this ministry will continue to strengthen over the coming 12 months.

Blessing to you in 2017.