Blog Post by Rev. Thirza Sayers
Pastor to Hillside Presbyterian, Light for the Darkness, and Our Selah
- “38% of U.S. pastors have thought about quitting full-time ministry in the past year.”
- In 2016, 85% of pastors rated their mental health as good or above. By Barna’s 2021 poll, it fell to 60%.
- “Nearly half of ministers, 49%, report fatigue as a part of their daily experience, while 35% are concerned about burnout and 32% are concerned about isolation.”
- “72% of the pastors report working between 55to 75 hours per week.”
These stats are not just numbers. I know I personally have struggled to compose my best sermons over the last 1.5 years and certainly have suffered from exhaustion and the crankiness that accompanies it. So what can we do about this?
In November Rev. Dr. Brice Rogers (Presbytery of Tropical Florida) reached out to Light 4 the Darkness to encourage us to begin a group for clergy based not only on the need stated in recent statistics and articles but also based on his own experience pastoring during the pandemic and his personal experience of panic attacks. I thought, “What a great idea! If we can help pastors regain and maintain their well-being, their spiritual and emotional health, there will be an enormous ripple effect on the church. What an exciting opportunity to bring the spiritual and emotional care of Light 4 the Darkness, that has been so helpful to so many already, to clergy and, through them, to their congregations.”
Brice and I started work immediately, reaching out to the national church, spiritual directors, mental health practitioners who care for clergy, the Presbyterian Mental Health Network, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance regarding its resiliency training, presbyteries, and 1001 New Worshiping Communities. Our Beta Test of the group occurred on March 29th. Pastors from around the country spent one hour together in worship, authentic and vulnerable conversation, listening and being heard, connecting, and supporting each other. The post-survey rating of the experience was a 9.3/10. Our official kickoff is next Tuesday, April 26th at noon central time via Zoom.
This new clergy support group is called Our Selah. “Selah” is a Hebrew word mostly found in the Psalms. The meaning is not known exactly, but it is thought to signal the reader to take a breath or rest, to pause—something sorely needed by pastors. We added the possessive pronoun “Our” to capture the group’s emphasis on connection and not being alone.
Our Selah offers clergy a safe space to connect, give and receive, exhale and release, be prayed for and cared for. Because it is a nationwide Zoom group, Our Selah allows a certain amount of anonymity that pastors do not feel in similar presbytery groups; plus, all members are invited to make a commitment to confidentiality and members may come with cameras off, as well.
Clergy: If you would like to join us, please join our FaceBook group, where our events are posted as well. And, please share this group with your colleagues that are in need of extra support.
Lay Leaders: In order for Our Selah to succeed, WE NEED YOU! If you love your pastors and want to support them, encourage them to care for themselves in ways like this and consider joining our prayer and care team.
Prayer and Care Team Requirements:
- Be available to commit to praying for up to 6 pastors.
- Give 1 hour per week. One week will be attending the group meeting; the next week will be following up with pastors by email and praying for them.
- Be well versed in the Zoom chat function…this is how you will connect with your pastors initially during the group.
Please contact Thirza Sayers at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about volunteering or joining Our Selah.
Lastly, to provide top-notch worship and resources to refresh the souls of clergy requires the best resources. Please consider supporting Our Selah financially. We have lots of promised support on the way but have yet to receive it. So please, join us in supporting the pastors who give so much. You can give through Light 4 the Darkness and note “Our Selah.”
Thank you for joining us in this life-giving ministry,
Rev. Thirza Sayers,
pastor @ Hillside, Executive Director @ Light 4 the Darkness, Co-Lead of Our Selah
Rev. Dr. Brice Rogers
Pastor @ Sunset, Co-Lead of Our Selah