18th December 2020

News: How can dioceses take the Covenant forward?

St Luke’s Wellbeing Co-ordinator Shannon O’Dam shares highlights from our recent Zymposium

St Luke’s popular Symposium moved onto Zoom this year – hence, our first Zymposium! The event was designed for wellbeing leads from a number of dioceses, to discuss the support, importance and implementation of the Wellbeing Covenant.

Making plans

The day began with plenary talks, firstly from Bishop Chris Goldsmith, who discussed the importance of encouraging and supporting self-care in ministry. He spoke to the necessity of knowing that which sustains and replenishes you as an individual.  Archdeacon Paul Davies’ talk spoke of the development and implementation of the Wellbeing Covenant in Guildford diocese, and raised issues that they had faced during the process. He highlighted how Guildford is planning to implement the Covenant over the course of five years and noted the importance of maintaining a level of flexibility in these plans over time.

Attendees were invited to split into five confidential groups to discuss their dioceses’ progress with rolling out the recommendations of the Covenant. This discussion revealed that attendees felt a need for a culture change, with a shift towards giving affirmation, supportive supervision, mentorship and collegiality.

One size doesn’t fit all

The day ended with a Q&A panel run by Chris, Paul, and St Luke’s Wellbeing Adviser Jan Korris. Key points that arose were an awareness that individual differences need to be accounted for when communicating with clergy – what will work for some will not work for all – and that this attitude is also appropriate to pursuing wellbeing in dioceses, so that people can be reached out to meaningfully. Accountability was raised as important with regards to maintaining wellbeing; affirmation, support, and encouragement towards wellbeing were noted, similarly to the feedback received in the breakout groups.

Impact

Feedback revealed a positive response to the day overall, with 79% of responses recording a positive impact on their confidence in embedding the Covenant for Clergy Care and Wellbeing in their diocese. Feedback also showed that, based on experience of the Zymposium, some attendees felt encouraged to discuss taking the wellbeing agenda forward with colleagues, sharing insight, or create a plan for the following year. Attendees further mentioned feeling less isolated in their role and considered the day to be enriching, with some suggesting further online Zymposia.

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