“Challenges are Great Opportunities”: Exploring Clergy Health and Wellness in the Midst of a Post-Pandemic Malaise

A new national study examined the health and wellness of American clergy in the post-pandemic landscape. The survey of over 1,700 Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox clergy found that overall, clergy tend to be healthier than the general public in terms of mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. However, there were significant variations, with 34% of clergy still rating in the “fair” or “poor” range on a composite wellness measure.

Younger clergy, particularly Millennials, reported lower levels of wellbeing compared to older peers. Maintaining spiritual practices like prayer and a strong sense of pastoral calling were tied to positive wellness. Clergy health also correlated with positive congregational dynamics like willingness to change and vitality post-pandemic.

Nearly half of clergy claimed frequent or occasional loneliness, highlighting relational challenges. The report emphasizes that enhancing clergy wellness requires a holistic approach addressing personal practices, relationships, spiritual nourishment, congregational cultures, and systemic factors. Supporting clergy to flourish sustainably necessitates persistence in tending to the interplay of factors impacting their health.

This is just one wave of a collaborative, five-year research project funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and led by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford International University for Religion and Peace. We will continue to release targeted analyses of more specific findings from our topical surveys. Our previous reports can be found here.

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