22 Oct 2020

Supporting clergy wellbeing: User Guides for chaplaincies


The Revd Tuomas Mäkipää (Chair of the House of Clergy in the Diocese) and David Coulston (Chair of the House of Laity in the Diocese) share an update with us on clergy wellbeing in the Diocese in Europe, accompanied by some new User Guides as resources for chaplaincies:

The wellbeing of the clergy across the Church of England has been the topic of a considerable amount of work and discussion over the past few years.  The objective, quite simply, is to seek to ensure that we (the laity and the senior Church clergy) properly support our local clergy.

A set of User Guides is being developed by the lay Chairs (or equivalent) of our Archdeaconry/Deanery Synods supported and advised by a number of Diocesan laity and clergy. These are aimed at assisting Chaplaincies in checking if they are already doing all that should be expected – or are there holes to be filled. Based on good practice already in the Diocese, they will eventually cover a broad range of topics from accommodation to Chaplaincy transport, the implications of part-time chaplains to agreeing expenses and much more.  This might seem at first sight a bit unnecessary – but the views expressed by Chaplains was quite clear – we do, in general, need to raise our game!

The first group of User Guides (each in pdf format) is published below and cover:

Preparing for a new chaplain

Welcoming a new chaplain & their family

How we run chaplaincies


Please do have a read through these User Guides. They are all short and simple, but the messages they embrace are essential to properly caring for our clergy. Oh, and please remember that ‘User Guides’ effectively set the norm that we should be striving for – if you can do better, that’s brilliant!

How we have got here:

Early in 2018, the Bishop’s Staff Meeting (the ‘BSM’ - the regular gathering of the senior team across our Diocese) agreed to ask our Chaplains what the current matters of concern are to them. This would then enable things to be put in place to address key problem areas.  The resulting survey was managed by us, in complete confidence and the feedback to the BSM was fully anonymised.

In short, the outcome was that where we are good, we are very good.  But where we are weak …!  From the responses of the clergy two key areas were identified which we need to address:

• The preparation of Chaplains to appointments and ongoing support from the senior team could often be improved; and

• The local ‘on the ground’ support from Chaplaincy laity is not always as effective as it ought to be.

All of this, of course, can result stress, a feeling of isolation, and a feeling of being unsettled – not a positive basis on which to build ministry and grow the Kingdom.

So, what is being done?   

The first of these key areas is being developed by the BSM – and with the recent appointment of full-time Archdeacons and the strengthening of the Area Dean network, this can now start to be actioned – watch this space!"