Duke Clergy Health Initiative




  • The Duke Endowment


  • Duke Global Health Institute and Center for Health Policy and Inequities Research

Start Date:

End Date:

  • Ongoing

Duke Clergy Health Initiative

The Duke Clergy Health Initiative's definition of health is wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. We are developing a resilient, well-informed cadre of United Methodist pastors as skilled in the care of themselves and their families as they are in the care of their congregations. In 2010 the Duke Clergy Health Initiative launched Spirited Life--a multi-year health and wellness program and behavioral health study. Funded by The Duke Endowment, and cast within a framework of Wesleyan theology and spirituality, Spirited Life provides clergy with the tools they need to manage stress; learn to care for their bodies in a healthy, mindful way; and find spiritual renewal. Some 1,150 clergy in the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church are enrolled in the program and will experience these services over the next few years. It is our hope that Spirited Life will prove beneficial, enabling other United Methodist conferences and other churches and faith communities to adopt it with confidence.

During the spring of 2008, the Clergy Health Initiative held a series of focus groups to hear clergy insights in small group settings. Eighty-eight individuals, including many pastors and nearly all district superintendants, participated. In the summer of 2008 and again in 2010, 2012, 2014, the Clergy Health Initiative administered surveys of all active United Methodist pastors in North Carolina. Due to extraordinary participation rates, 95 percent, 87 percent, 81 percent, and 75 percent, respectively, we gathered a wealth of information about pastors' physical, emotional, and spiritual health. We will conduct this survey again in 2016 to assess changes in clergy health over time.When combined, these two measurement vehicles: one qualitative, one quantitative - provide a compelling view into the state of these pastors' health and some of the factors influencing it, and they have helped us create the Spirited Life intervention, which has significantly lowered rates of metabolic syndrome, our primary outcome of interest.

We are working with the two United Methodist conferences in North Carolina to help them plan for continuing to improve and sustain the health of their pastors.

Last updated on January 10, 2018