In September 2014, the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church Board of Trustees approved and authorized Bishop Coyner to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding between Indiana University Health and the Indiana Conference regarding a change in the Buchanan Pastoral Counseling Center. Under these new terms, IU Health made a one-time fully paid contribution of $3 million to the Indiana Conference for the promotion of clergy psychological and spiritual wellness.
The Conference Trustees made a recommendation that the Leadership Table of the Indiana Conference establish a task force to develop a comprehensive plan to address the needs of clergy wellness through expanded ministries and services. Bishop Coyner convened a task force of Indiana Conference leaders to serve as a visioning team, which included himself with Steve Ailes, chairperson of the Board of Ordained Ministry; Doris Clark, conference lay leader; John Groves, chairperson of the Cabinet; Ike Williams, representative of the Conference Trustees; and Cindy Reynolds, executive assistant to the bishop.
The Task Force presented a proposal to the Leadership Table, November 15, 2014, which included the following:
- $1 million to the United Methodist Foundation of Indiana, Inc., to complete the Indiana Conference match for the Lilly Endowment grant, which launched the Rejuvenate Ministry;
- $200,000 into a cash account of the Indiana Conference to launch the new Clergy Care Services (CCS) ministry with the understanding that this amount can also be used toward the match of the Lilly Endowment grant as a part of the Emergency Fund to assist clergy and their families; and
- $1.8 million to an endowed fund for the Indiana Conference with the proceeds used to pay for ongoing costs of the Clergy Care Services for our clergy and their families.
As the team continued their work, the following description of Clergy Care Services was created to help guide the work, as well as find the right person to shepherd this new area in the position of Clergy Care Services Director.
The Clergy Care Services Director will support the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by providing confidential pastoral care for clergy and their families. This director will provide a space for short-term confidential conversations regarding personal issues, concerns and stresses in life. Further, this director will be the initial contact for clergy and families, as well as discern together if needed, next steps for pastoral care that may include referral to additional “care” resources. This ministry will create a culture of conversation and environment for appropriate levels of psychological and spiritual wellness.
The primary functions of the office will include developing relationships with clergy and their families for conversation and consultation to assist in referrals for other services needed. The office will also discern and create a network of resources for clergy and their families who seek care, as well as coordinate and oversee the Process for Psychological Screening as required by the Board of Ordained Ministry.
In summary, Clergy Care Services will serve as a safe space for short-term conversations about personal issues, concerns and stresses in the lives of clergy and families. The ministry shall be 100% confidential within the boundaries of governing laws. While this ministry is not counseling, it is however, a place to have private dialogue with a trusted clergy colleague, who understands the pressures upon clergy and their families. In order to maintain privacy, this ministry and staff will not be housed in the Conference Center.
Following a brief discussion in the November 15 meeting, The Leadership Table unanimously approved the creation of a new Clergy Care Services Director position and the office of Clergy Care Services (CCS).
Bishop Coyner will announce the launch of the office, as well as the new director in the coming weeks.