Clergy Wellness

These are Board-approved resources to help alleviate at least some of the stress
associated with doing ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Your Board of Ordained Ministry is here to support you. 
You are not alone.

Mental Health Resources

These resources are available to HealthFlex participants (the annual conference health insurance plan), as well as their covered dependents. Wespath is the United Methodist denominational agency that offers the health insurance, as well as a variety of tools to address clergy well-being.

Health and Well-being Resources

Tools and resources to help you manage all aspects of your well-being:

Summary of Well-being Plans through Wespath:

Wespath offers a variety of programs to help you get and/or stay healthy:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

All HealthFlex Plans offered by Wespath include an EAP provided by Optum Health. The Optum® Live and Work Well EAP can be accessed through the Virgin Pulse app, by phone and in-person by participants and dependents. HealthFlex provides eight free sessions per issue per family member per year. If you continue with counseling, after the eight free sessions, for the same issue, it is covered as noted in your health plan benefits booklet located on Wespath.org. You can also download the “myLiveandworkwell” mobile app or log on at https://www.liveandworkwell.com/ to learn about EAP services and locate providers.

There is a dedicated team at Optum Health that has been trained specifically for the HealthFlex EAP to assist UMC members and their families. Healthflex EAP participants can call OPTUM Health directly at 1-866-881-6800, log on to www.benefitsaccess.org (click on Well-being) or Virgin Pulse at https://app.member.virginpulse.com/ (spouses/dependents).

HealthFlex – United Healthcare Behavioral Health

Additionally, all HealthFlex medical plans provide coverage for behavioral health (psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health providers). There is no deductible that has to be met for the C2000 and C3000 with HRAs plans and the B1000 plan just has a $15 copay for in network and out of network coverage (see the plan summaries for the details and limitations).  To access this information log on to www.benefitsaccess.org(click on Health) or Virgin Pulse at https://app.member.virginpulse.com/ (spouses/dependents).  

For any of these HealthFlex or Wespath resources, our own HR manager, Meg Kau, is happy to answer questions or help you access the benefits. Please don't hesitate to use Meg as your guide in navigating these tools.

Ministerial Education Fund

Grants and scholarships are available for continuing education and clergy renewal, including ongoing supports such as clergy coaching and spiritual direction. The Board is willing to work with you for creative financial solutions to your need to combat stress, exhaustion, and burn-out. The MEF policy, application for funds, and contact information for help are available here.

Renewal and Study Leaves

Not only does the Book of Discipline provide for regular opportunities for spiritual formation and growth, it actually mandates such leaves in ¶350. Annual leaves of a week (required) or quadrennial leaves of a month (encouraged) are not part of your vacation, and are planned in consultation with your local church or other appointment setting, together with your district superintendent. A formational and spiritual growth leave of up to six months is also possible, while continuing to hold your local church appointment. These leaves do not require Board approval, but the BOM may be able to help with financial support through MEF monies.

Personal or Medical Leave

These types of Leave are available if you feel that you cannot continue in ministry in your current appointment setting. These leaves are handled by the Board of Ordained Ministry, and can be requested at any time, including during the interim between Annual Conferences. See ¶353 for personal, family, or transitional leave, and ¶356 for medical leave. Contact the BOM (bom@umoi.org) to ask questions or start the request process. 

Pulpit Supply and Preaching Help

Pulpit supply and recorded preaching resources have been and will continue to be provided by colleagues and the Cabinet. Please use them as appropriate to your context. Where they are not useful, consider reaching out to your deacon, extension ministry, ecumenical, and retired colleagues for pulpit supply and respite. Contact information for clergy is available here. Beyond your own circles, if you don’t know where to seek these names, your district office can often provide a list of available preachers and leaders.

Spiritual Direction

Many spiritual directors have enthusiastically embraced the opportunities to offer their guidance via zoom, so you are no longer limited by geography (or commuting time) when looking for a person to fill this role. You can find two different collections of spiritual directors here and here, and you can read testimonies here from persons who have benefited from spiritual direction--including those who were initially reluctant to start! Spiritual Direction can be supported by an MEF grant for "ongoing clergy supports." Complete the MEF online application.

Greater Northwest Coping Resources

Our bishop understands that anxiety, grief, and stress are normal feelings during the challenges of covid. The Greater NW Area maintains an ongoing list of resources so that our clergy can prioritize caring for themselves, in order to able to care for others. Find the list here

Both the Cascadia and Columbia districts also maintain resource lists to assist church leaders at this time. Sage and Crater Lake folks are welcome to take advantage of this information.

Staff-Parish Relations Committees

For clergy or lay assigned who are serving a local church, your Staff-Parish Relations Committee should be a strong source of encouragement and assistance. The Board is wiling to support you as you partner with your SPRC to care for your own health and well-being.

District Superintendents

Please, reach out to your District Superintendent for expanded support and advice as we continue to deal with pandemic-related exhaustion and burnout. The Cabinet and Board are eager to work with you if you have questions about any of these options or feel uncertain of how to proceed. Please begin the conversation before you are in crisis. If you need help, support, or advocacy with your congregational leadership to obtain any of these, your District Superintendent will and should provide that, with the Board’s strong support.