Photo Credit: "Straight Path" by Flickr user Nana B Agyei, CC BY 2.0.

Welcome to the Clergy Wellness Corner!

You are reading the first monthly column of the Clergy Wellness Corner where we’ll emphasize different aspects of health and wellness for the clergy of Pacific Northwest Conference. This column is an outreach of the Clergy Wellness Task Force sponsored by the Board of Ordained Ministries. We will be providing a wide variety of content, from personal blogs by clergy, to articles on spirituality, mental health, and current events, to information about the benefits that are available for clergy and their families.

We would love to hear your stories of the struggles and triumphs in ministry and the resources you utilized along the way. If you have a story to share, an idea for a column, or issues you would like to see addressed, please contact Sue Magrath at

We begin the Clergy Wellness Corner with a story that Pat Simpson shared during Clergy Session during Annual Conference in June. Be well!

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Live and Work Well

“A couple of years ago my daughter Hannah and I were at an impasse. Living with her mother at age 30, she was frustrated with a fruitless job search. My attitude was getting more and more negative. I was working on that with my spiritual director; she had tried individual therapy. Aiming a family systems lens at the situation, I saw that our stuck relationship patterns were contributing to her inability to launch her own life. I proposed that we try therapy together, and she agreed.

“As the well-insured half of this duo, it was on me to figure out logistics. I had a vague memory of Bruce Galvin mentioning employee assistance benefits that cover family issues. With an appointment change looming in the next year or two I could definitely say this situation was impacting my ability to do itinerant ministry. So instead of clicking behavioral health in the Health Flex Vendor links, I tried “EAP – Live and Work Well.” There was a nice collection of online resources, but I already knew what I wanted. All it took was a phone call. I was astounded to find out we could have an initial series of sessions with no co-pay or deductible, and after that the co-pay would be tiny. There was a family systems therapist in the network nearby who turned out to be on our wavelength and a person of faith herself. We started within a couple of weeks – before we lost our nerve.

“We needed some sessions together and some separately. No problem, even though she wasn’t on my insurance. We needed more than a year. No problem. Progress was hard work, but without insurance hassles to get in the way we could focus on what we needed to do. It was such a blessing!

“Hannah has accessed resources with the state Dept. of Vocational Rehabilitation and is in a great internship. I’m still eager for the day when she trades that in for a full time job – and pretty confident I will get an empty nest before I retire. In the meantime, we definitely have a better life together.

“Are family or personal issues are impacting your happiness or effectiveness in ministry? If you have conference insurance, the employee assistance benefits may be a pathway to the support you need. (Bonus fact: you get wellness points for making the phone call.) There’s no need to struggle through these things alone!”

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