The bottom-line message from a Feb. 15-16 Worker Wellness Conference is clear, says Rev. David Muench, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Ministerial Growth and Support, which convened the event — the first of its kind Synodwide in more than 10 years.
“Our professional church workers can be assured that we’re concerned about them and that we want to do some things to encourage and support them in their pursuit of wellness,” Muench said as he summed up the conference. “To maintain the mission of the church, we have to have ordained and commissioned ministers who are well –- physically, spiritually, emotionally –- in all facets of their lives.”
The 58 conference participants from 23 LCMS districts included district presidents and others district advocates for ministerial wellness.
The conference program included presentations on worker-wellness resources and small-group brainstorming to set goals for district wellness programs, as well as opportunities for worship and fellowship.
Rich Bimler, former president of Wheat Ridge Ministries, served as conference emcee/facilitator, and Christian musician Don Wharton led singing.
Muench said that evaluations from conference attendees “point out the impressive way that various organizations concerned about ministerial wellness worked together during this conference.”
Resources were presented from Grace Place Retreats, Wheat Ridge Ministries, Concordia Plan Services, the CMGS, LCMS World Relief/Human Care, the LCMS Council of Presidents, and others.
“This conference demonstrated that there are a lot of entities committed to working together to provide and promote worker wellness,” Muench said.
In follow-up to the conference, he said that the CMGS will “spend some energy on developing a map for those resources so that our advocates for ministerial wellness and our professional workers can find their way through them, to make appropriate use of them.”
These are just a few of the worker-wellness goals conference participants set for their districts:
- Renew an emphasis on care committees in congregations.
- Publicize wellness in district newsletters.
- Revitalize district ministerial-health committees.
- Facilitate prayer retreats in congregations.
- Organize a health council in each congregation, using nurses and other health-care professionals.
To help districts realize their worker-wellness goals, attendees were urged to apply for a Worker Wellness Incentive Grant available through a collaboration of LCMS World Relief/Human Care and the CMGS.
A grant from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans provided funding for the conference.
District advocates for ministerial wellness can look forward to another CMGS-convened wellness conference, planned for Oct. 1-2, 2008, in Milwaukee — immediately before a Wheat Ridge Ministries Symposium on Health and Hope.
To contact your district’s advocate for ministerial health, contact your district office.
Posted March 1, 2007