Since July 1 I have lost twelve pounds. I visit the downtown YMCA four to five times a week. I have tried yoga, bar stretching, and now spinning has become my happy place. I sat with a professional counselor to evaluate my ministry load and stress level. My wife has been invited to clergy spouse events, and we were offered a free cruise for a couples get-a-way. This is JUST the first quarter of a special, free pilot program from Florida Hospital for the community and the community’s clergy. Thank you, Florida Hospital.
Through the hospital’s Healthy100 initiative, some concerning data has shown the today’s clergy are not in the healthiest of positions. Of the approximately 635,000 clergy in United States, 1,500 clergy leave the ministry every month due to burn-out and stress. At this rate, our presence disappears by 2047. Healthy100 has discovered that 26% of clergy are known to have depression and are treating depression with medication. The undiagnosed and untreated cases are unknown. Overall, 72% of pastors are at immediate risk for heart disease and stroke. I am willing to bet the average church goer knows that being a person of the cloth has its stressful moments, yet I bet most haven’t a clue of the internal decay.
Florida Hospital is moving ahead with its Clergy Wellness Project after a successful pilot program in which 25 members of the clergy and their spouses, me included. They have found no other program that focuses on clergy health in mind, body and spirit to this degree. The results were so strong in the early stages of the pilot program pioneered here in Central Florida, the national Adventist Health system has picked up the initiative to go nation-wide.
So far in the pilot program, 100% say they are rested and refreshed with increased energy. 97% handle stress better and avoid burn out. 86% report a renewed passion for ministry and personal growth. And 92% stronger family relationships and family quality time. Final statistics are still to be tabulated.
The national program is being reformatted and rebranded as Rejuvenate (www.rejuvenate.healthy100churches.org). Clergy and other ministry leaders, and their spouses, will be invited to come for five days to stay in a luxury resort in Celebration and engage in an intense series of tests, seminars, and experiences to reset some unhealthy habits for healthier ones. The experience will include personality tests, self-care techniques, spiritual healing practices, Celebration Hospital Executive Health Assessment, dietary training, fitness goals, a Creation Health kit, a program on forgiveness, and a free day for fun. Wow. Thank you, Florida Hospital, on behalf of the nation’s clergy.