Clergy Living Well Group

Archdeacon Robert Jones has been pleased to accept the invitation from Bishop John to lead on Clergy Wellbeing within the diocese – or “Living Well”.

For some years the Church of England has become more aware of the effects of the stresses and strains of parish ministry on clergy and their families.  We, as the Diocese of Worcester, commit together to promote the welfare of our clergy and their households in terms expressed in the Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing. We undertake to work together to seek to coordinate and improve our approach to clergy care and wellbeing that ordained ministers flourish in their service of the mission of God within and beyond the Church.

In addition to what is already in place within the Diocese (below):

A group has been set up to monitor and evaluate how we can best support our clergy to “Live Well” and to implement initiatives and strategies to aid wellbeing.

You will notice a variety of representatives on the group – click on their names to learn more about them.

The Venerable Robert Jones – Archdeacon of Worcester (Chair)
It is a great privilege to chair this group which brings together people who are one way or another passionate about and committed to life in all its fulness for clergy, their spouses and their families. In such a changing scene the role of the parish priest is as important as ever it was, and possibly as complex too!

I have spent 26 years in parish ministry in this diocese, followed by 8 years as part of the diocesan support team for the ongoing training of clergy and lay ministers. Since 2014 I have been Archdeacon, a role which has many different aspects to it, of which the most important for me is the encouragement of clergy, ministers and churchwardens in the parishes.

On the Bishop’s staff team I lead on ‘Clergy Wellbeing’, which easily sounds like a tick-box exercise, and so prefer the term Pope Francis suggests: what does it mean for you and me to live well? In today’s church there is a tendency to emphasize being missional as being at the expense of being pastoral. I don’t believe this at all: good pastoral ministry exercised by the priests with their laity is at the heart of the Church’s mission.

I love being a priest and am grateful for a ministry exercised in different places and ways. It really has been a gift to me, as have the many people who have encouraged, held and nurtured me through good times and bad along the way. It is a testimony to their care that I’m still enjoying that ministry today, and know full well I could not be exercising it without the support of others.

So, if you need support, please feel free to contact me on 01905 773301 and or email me.
Mary Flitcroft – Bishop's Adviser for Spirituality
In this life of ministry as well as on our pilgrimage it is good for our well-being to have a companion with whom we can share the joys and difficulties of the journey, someone we can walk with and can help us keep a healthy perspective. Worcester Diocese’s Spiritual Directors can be companions on your journey. They offer a confidential, safe space as well as a compassionate, listening heart.

If you feel you would benefit from having such a companion/spiritual director, drop me an email, I can lead you through the process of finding one.

We also hold Spirituality Gatherings which are open to all and provide a place in which you can connect with others in ministry and be reminded of those things which are important and not just urgent! We have speakers on various topics relating to spirituality and there are opportunities to discuss the subject more deeply. If you would like to come to any of these do email me and I can send you the details, (they also appear on the Diocesan newsletters/mailings).

Read more about Mary here.
Jo Hyrons – Diocesan HR Co-ordinator
I work in the diocesan office with my job-share partner Becky Lowe. As HR Coordinators, one of our roles is to support clergy who have become unwell due to stress, depression or anxiety offering practical support as well as the services of occupational health to help them return to health.

My aim within the group is to ensure clergy are aware, and have access to, the support they need to flourish in their ministry and to enable them to “Live Well” in their private lives and their ministry. We do have a great range of resources and networks within the diocese, and I want people to know about them, use them and tell others about them.

Our clergy and their families should feel comfortable seeking help when they need it, and finding it, to enable them to continue to live well.

Please do get in touch by email or 01905 730 730 / 732 818
Becky Lowe - Diocesan HR Co-ordinator
I am one half of the HR Support Team for the Diocese along with my colleague Jo Hyrons. The HR team aim to enable a supportive culture where people enjoy their duties through the good times and the harder times, are able to contribute fully, thrive and develop their skills over time.

We are here as a helpdesk for people to ask questions of and as part of a support team during absence or long term sickness. We also to try to create greater awareness of issues of clergy care and wellbeing. If you would like to get in touch for yourself or someone else, we can signpost to some of the great resources and help and advice we have available in our diocese.

Our Flourishing in Ministry document is a great place to start reading, this is a practical resource which will help to articulate principles that promote ministerial flourishing and support every minister to thrive in their life and ministry. During difficult times, it is important to know that senior clergy and the HR team at the diocesan office are here to help you.

Please do get in touch by email or 01905 730 730 / 732 818
Roger Latham – Director of Mission Ministry
Contact me on 01905 732815 or email me
The Revd Claire Lording – Vicar of Pershore Abbey and Chair of House of Clergy
I’m The Revd Canon Claire Lording and I am Vicar of the Benefice of Pershore and Diocesan Chair of the House of Clergy. I am also one of the diocesan clergy representatives on General Synod.

As a parish priest I know how wonderful, challenging and demanding this role can be and how important it is that all clergy have the right support to ensure they have structures in place to enable times of rest and recreation away from work, as well as support with everyday life.

In my role on this group, I hope that clergy feel they can talk to me if they have particular concerns about how any support is being offered as well being able to share any specific concerns or issue they have. I am a good listener and would hope to be able to bring the essence of any concerns or challenges (as well as joys) to meetings so that if policy change is required it happens. I am also happy to come alongside clergy who simply want to chat and share what life is like for them and explore together if there’s anything that can be changed to improve wellbeing.

In my diocesan role, and being a member of General Synod, I hope to be able to influence the wellbeing agenda and contribute to debates, discussions and decisions that directly affect the wellbeing of clergy. Issues aground clergy discipline, housing, pensions and work expectations all impact on how clergy feel, and I’d always want to ensure these are working for clergy not against them.

I’m simply a parish priest who cares about her colleagues and am committed to doing all that I can so that all clergy, in whatever role they are serving, can flourish and grow as they work for God’s Kingdom.
Dr David Mair – Bishop’s Adviser in Pastoral Care and Counselling
I’m a Senior Accredited BACP Psychotherapist and I’m the lead contact for the diocesan counselling service. The service is here to provide confidential support and therapy to any clergy or member of clergy family within the diocese, as well as to staff working in the diocesan offices.

Taking time out to reflect on issues which are troubling you can be time well spent. Knowing when to take the time to talk things through is a key skill in staying well within demanding roles. We see people who are struggling with almost any issue you can think of: stress; depression; relationships; burnout; anger management; sexuality; and more. Most of the work the service provides is undertaken at an individual level, but we also offer group work: an ongoing reflective practice group – the Balint Group – and a yearly Developing Emotional Wellbeing group. Details of these groups are on the service website.

The service is supported by the diocese so no one should feel that they cannot afford the support they need. Additional sources of funding may be available via the Clergy Support Trust.

Around 30 people a year use the counselling service and the feedback we receive is positive and appreciative. Do contact me at any time for a confidential discussion about how we can best support you. Email / 07535962777
Helen Reading - Clergy Spouse Network Representative
I am Helen Reading - wife, mum, parent/carer rep for Families In Partnership working with WCC, Chair of Governors for a local C of E school, formally a Day Services Manager for Adults with LD and foster carer. I am married to Glenn, priest of four churches in the Redditch Christ the King Benefice, and mum to five children aged between 5 - 19.

My role in this group is essentially as a Clergy Spouse and all that entails - both in volunteer work in churches and supporting my husband as a priest within the diocese and my children in the uniqueness of belonging to a clergy family.

I can support wellbeing / living well in the Diocese as a clergy spouse, with clergy children and knowing other families in the same boat. Part of clergy wellbeing will always be integral to spouses and family life.
Hugh Richards – Chair of House of Laity and Honorary Canon, Worcester Cathedral
Hugh Richards is the Chair of the House of Laity of the Diocesan Synod and a member of the Bishop's Council of Trustees. He is willing to assist Churchwardens and Stipendiary Clergy identify well-being issues and how to deal with them effectively. He can be contacted on a confidential basis. He is a trained mediator. Read more about Hugh here.

Useful Links

  • Diocesan Counselling Service
  • Flourishing in Ministry
  • You can find all the Living Ministry reports and resources, including one recently added to help PCCs think through wellbeing in the parish, here: Living Ministry | The Church of England.
  • Employee (*) Assistance Programme (* for “Employee” substitute “Office Holder”)
    • You will have been made aware when you first joined the Diocese of Worcester that you are automatically enrolled as a member of our Group Life Assurance Scheme providing a lump sum benefit of one year’s stipend to your estate should you die in service. In addition to the lump sum, being a member of the scheme allows you access the EAP through our insurers, Legal and General. This is described as a “comprehensive health and wellbeing toolkit”. You may find it useful to download the “My Healthy Advantage” app to access this more easily – email the HR Team for the passcode - This is a confidential and free service.
  • Retreat Centres
  • Clergy Based Grants
  • Clergy Hardship Fund
    • The Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners have made extra funding available to dioceses to help clergy and lay workers who are likely to face significant hardship as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. Some discretion is allowed in the allocation of funds, but the primary intention is to help with the increases in the costs of energy. If you are struggling financially, we strongly encourage you to apply: the fund has been set up specifically for this purpose. To do so, please contact Stuart Currie (Bishop's Chaplain). If you wish to apply, we'll need to know your after-tax household income other than your stipend (if any) and the cost of your heating bills in the past twelve months. Also, if there are any specific needs that you have, please do let us know
  • If it Wasn’t for God’: A Report on the Wellbeing of Global Majority Heritage Clergy in the Church of England,’ by Dr Selina Stone.
    • The research was funded by Clergy Support Trust and is part of the Living Ministry research programme. The report explores in depth the lived experience of UK minority ethnic and global majority heritage clergy and the wellbeing challenges they face, and suggests ways that the church can respond. It is a powerful and challenging read and a valuable resource to help the church work to improve and support the wellbeing of all clergy. For those who prefer to listen, we have released an accompanying podcast in which the research team discuss key themes from their analysis. You can access both the report and the podcast here (under ‘Focussed Studies’):
Page last updated: Tuesday 29th August 2023 1:29 PM
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