Confidential Care for Clergy, Families
Clergy and their family members who need a safe and confidential place to go for help with personal issues, concerns and stresses can access the assistance they need by contacting Clergy Care Services Director, Rev. Mike Warner.
As the director of this position that began Jan. 1, 2015, the Rev. R. Michael Warner has a broad charter from Indiana Conference Bishop Mike Coyner: To provide confidential pastoral care for clergy (both active and retired) and their families. Warner will provide a space for short-term confidential conversations regarding personal issues, concerns and stresses. He will serve as 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 resources.
“This is really a ministry of care for our clergy and their families,” Warner said. “We want to provide a safe place for people to come and talk. It’s stressful being clergy or in a clergy family, living in a glass house.”
Warner served in the Air Force as a chaplain to troops in more than 30 countries, with his most recent assignment as the deputy command chaplain at Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, a position roughly equivalent to being a District Superintendent of a very large district. He has since retired from the Air Force. He also has an extensive background in local church leadership, having served Bradley UMC in Greenfield, Old Bethel in Indianapolis and Arlington in Bloomington.
“I have always had a passion for pastoral care and counseling,” Warner shares, “It’s just the way God has wired me.”
Warner stresses that the service he provides is confidential and free of cost. “The conversations are completely confidential,” he said. “This is a stand-alone resource. No information is relayed to anyone in the chain of command.”
In fact, Warner will not have an office in the Conference Center. Working from a remote location, no one from the conference or district will even know a person is talking to him. He will be available to talk by email, teleconferencing or in person at a conference or district event, and anywhere else deemed convenient and comfortable by the clergyperson. No topic of conversation will be out of bounds, whether it regards marital, financial, problems with congregations, family problems, or any other issues clergy or their family members may encounter and/or may be experiencing.
Warner further shares, “This ministry is designed for short-term conversations. If professional counseling will be helpful, I can get the person connected to those resources.”
While this is a new position for the Indiana Conference, Bishop Coyner said it is just a continuation of a long-term commitment to clergy and their families.
As Clergy Care services continue to develop, one of Warner’s main goals is to get to know people throughout the Indiana Conference individually in a variety of different ways, as well as develop resources for clergy and their families like books or professional resources to refer Conference members and their families.
Warner also shares, “It’s tough struggling with a multitude of challenges presented in today’s culture, expectations and pressures in our most areas of our lives … and it’s all lived out in the context of a culture that is increasingly suspect of religious faith. How do you walk through those waters? Where do you turn to process the complexity of life? Perhaps there’s never been a more rewarding or challenging time to serve as a clergy. Our folks need a safe, trusted and confidential place to share their story … because sometimes, we all need someone to listen and care.”
Any clergy person or family member who would like to contact Mike Warner may do so by clicking here.