Meritus hosts conference on clergy stress, burnout

December 29, 2012
  • The Rev. Fred Lehr, left, of Renewal Ministries, and Dr. David Baker, Meritus Health director of spiritual care, meet at a Meritus conference for local clergy and lay leaders.
Submitted photo

The department of Spiritual Care Services of Meritus Medical Center recently hosted a conference for local clergy and lay leaders titled “Answering the Call — Losing the Connection: Clergy Stress, Burnout and Self-Care.”

The daylong conference was held at Robinwood Professional Center, Newman Auditorium  and featured the Rev. Fred Lehr as keynote speaker.

Lehr is the founder and manager of Renewal Ministries, a ministry of training and consulting for church systems with special emphasis on conflict management and healthy congregations.

Using materials from his book, “Clergy Burnout: Recovering from the 70-hour Work Week and other Self-Defeating Practices,” Lehr outlined the problem of clergy stress and burnout.

He explained how particular personality types common among those in congregational ministry and the codependent dynamics of congregations might foster unrealistic expectations and dysfunctional behavior among clergy.

“You need to diagnose the problem before we can address it,” he said.

After analyzing what contributes to the problem, Lehr presented strategies for regaining balance and maintaining healthy professional boundaries. Time was given for small-group reaction with clergy groups discussing intentional strategies of self-care and lay groups discussing congregational care for pastors.

The program concluded with a personal message of encouragement for self-care by the Rev. Ronald Schlak, assistant to the Bishop for the DE-MD Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The conference was underwritten by Washington County CARES and Trinity Lutheran Church of Hagerstown.

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