Taking Responsibility for Multiple Churches: A Study in Burnout among Anglican Clergywomen in England

In: Journal of Empirical Theology
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  • 1 Glyndŵr University, Wales, UK
  • 2 University of Warwick, England, UK

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A major consequence of changing cultures for Anglican clergy serving in the established Church of England (reflected in declining congregations, stretched financial resources, and falling vocations to the priesthood) is seen in the process of pastoral reorganisation that now requires individual clergy to have oversight of a growing number of churches. This is especially the case in rural areas where individual clergy may now be responsible for seven or more churches. Drawing on data provided by 867 clergywomen serving in stipendiary ministry in the Church of England, the present study examines the association between the number of churches and levels of burnout reported among the clergy, after taking into account personal factors (like age), psychological factors (like personality), theological factors (like church tradition) and other contextual factors (like rurality). Employing the balanced affect model of work-related psychological health operationalised through the Francis Burnout Inventory, the data demonstrated a small significant inverse association between the number of churches and positive affect (satisfaction in ministry), but no association with negative affect (emotional exhaustion). Overall, however, the variance accounted for by the number of churches was trivial in comparison with the variance accounted for by psychological factors.

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