23 October 2014

Why Clergy Family Research Matters (Guest Writer)

I was privileged to receive this note from a retired Australian clergy worker who wanted to share their thoughts on our clergy family research project. With their permission I have included it below. Some great insights and encouraging words.

"A quick note to all those who have passed on the survey for the spouses and adult children of clergy workers, but have not themselves (as clergy with families) had a chance to share their own experiences. As a former clergy worker I have seen many clergy family dynamics, from burnt-out senior clergy at ‘close of business’ Christmas Day, to young families struggling with unhelpful church/family boundary pressures. As I think about these issues, what concerns me the most is that whilst clergy may have fellow workers or regional oversight, there seems to be a serious lack of support for their families.
I believe beginning this significant research into clergy families with the people who have received the least attention, not clergy themselves but their typically forgotten families, is not only urgent, but also profoundly Christian. It takes those who are, at times, the least in the church, and calls them most important, it listens to the stories of practically professional counsellors, and serves those who feel so consistently drained.

Having these conversations with our families, and encouraging them to be involved in research about their experiences, makes good pastoral sense to me, and I encourage clergy around Australia to do the same.

I look forward to being able to contribute to future studies of clergy families myself and encourage clergy, past and present, to send through their informal thoughts to this webpage to shape these studies."     ~ Anonymous

To share your thoughts or experiences, please email Rachel at clergyfamiliesau@gmail.com.
~ Rachel


  1. Can you define ”clergy” please? Are you talking about a specific denomination here? My father was ordained as a Baptist minister the year I was born and I have grown up as a 'preacher's kid' but in the Baptist Church, we have never been referred to as 'clergy'.

    Thanks! :)

  2. Certainly! 'Clergy' is the formal term used by the Australian government to define someone who has been paid by any church denomination to conduct ministry activites in a church. Each church denomination has their own term, such as minister, pastor, vicar, priests, but 'clergy' simply groups them together a professional :) Hope that helps! Rachel.