Study shows high obesity rate for clergy – UMC.org


Now I have the perfect excuse for my recent weight gain! Or do I? A recent volunteer study was conducted and a subsequent report was made. Here is an excerpt:

Pastors can never stop at one dessert.

Refuse to sample a pie, cake or cookie during a local church potluck and you risk offending a parishioner.

That’s some of the anecdotal evidence that Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell has collected as research director of the Clergy Health Initiative, a program of Duke Divinity School.

But she also has some hard facts: United Methodist clergy in the state have an “alarming” prevalence of obesity and its related chronic diseases. Job stress seems to play a key role.

The article continues with:

Five major stress factors for clergy are mobility, low financial compensation, inadequate social support, high time demands and intrusions on family boundaries. “Clergy recently reported that these combined stressors decrease their engagement in healthy behaviors,” the study said.

I read this article following some recent news that a clergy friend of mine was no longer going to be serving a church because the folks there didn’t want to see their familiar church change. I have seen the numbers in attendance drop after a growth spurt in several churches – and now in one area of the country pastors are expected to post the church attendance numbers every Monday. Members want the pastor to visit whenever they are sick or lonely or worried, but only if the house has just been cleaned, the member looks his or her best, and it’s a “convenient” time. We are experiencing financial deficits in churches and growing needs from the community, and pastors are expected to “fix” the budget – even to the point of taking salary cuts, or no salary at all in some cases.

There’s more, so much more, but why beleaguer the point? I can’t help but think that it’s time we went back to basic declarations such as – WE ARE THE CHURCH! We are one body – the body of Christ, and if one part is ill or hurting, we are all ill and hurting.

“that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12: 25-26

Study shows high obesity rate for clergy – UMC.org.

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One thought on “Study shows high obesity rate for clergy – UMC.org

  1. You wrote, “We are one body – the body of Christ, and if one part is ill or hurting, we are all ill and hurting.” I couldn’t agree more, and of course that is exactly the message that Jesus taught and the way he lived his life. Unfortunately, too many of us clergy types have become accustomed to denying or minimizing the fact that we are hurting, and in our efforts to serve God and others we find it all too easy to neglect our own needs and sacrifice personal and family time because we convince ourselves that someone else’s needs are more important.

    I’ve been to a lot of clergy gatherings in which pastors complain about their hectic schedules and how long it’s been since they had a full day off with no interruptions, but most aren’t willing to set and enforce healthier boundaries and actually say “no” or at least “not today.” Workaholism and codependent, enabling behaviors are also often lauded as being “devoted” or “unselfish.”

    I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I know that an important first step is to acknowledge the severity and pervasiveness of the problem. After that, we need to be willing to actually DO something about it, and make some positive changes in our lives, instead of just complaining about the way things are.

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