HARBOUR TEAM (press release)
New group set up to provide clergy with a “safe space”
A small group of experienced clergy from various denominations have been formed and taken the name the Harbour Team to provide a place of spiritual and psychological “sanctuary” for their fellow clergy. This came from the recognition of the pressures and expectations which all clergy face and the lack of opportunity they have to talk about these in a confidential setting.
The initiative is part of the Care4Clergy group which acknowledges the commonalities of issues facing clergy including dealing with declining congregations, difficult parishioners, increased work load with fewer colleagues. The Care4Clergy group also recognised how some churches have been hurt by their minister or priest whereas there has been very little attention paid to the other reality: How clergy have been hurt by their churches with some clergy being bullied and driven from their congregations by a small number of their people.
Rev Gabrielle Farquhar from the Harbour Team said:
“No matter what our differing backgrounds within the Christian Church, we found that certain triggers for difficulties, stress, burnout, conflict are common to all clergy. Some struggle on without talking to anyone about how they feel or what they are experiencing until they become ill, others even begin to question their call. For various reasons the clergy are not using some of the Pastoral Care already available. Since Covid some have expressed a deep sense of loneliness and others have left Ministry altogether. This new peer group initiative therefore opens a whole new support network for all clergy.”
The team can be contacted through the Care4Clergy Facebook page or
Care4Clergy website. The Harbour Team whilst not a counselling service will be there to offer a listening ear, a confidential and safe space for clergy who may be experiencing overwhelm or burden.
Catholic clergy member and Redemptorist priest, Fr Ciarán O’Callaghan commented:
“One of the aspects of the Harbour Team is its inter-church dimension. This will allow clergy to have a safe space outside their own denomination, if they need such. It also gives a powerful witness to Jesus’ desire for unity among his followers.”
Link to site: https://care4clergy.com/
The Harbour Team…
Obviously this Harbour initiative is to be recommended and so appropriate during Christian Unity Week.
I want to ask a question – what percentage of the clergy do you think will not ask for help/will not take the first step?
What answer have you given? If you are a priest reading this how likely are you to ask for help?
I made a proposal to our Diocese some years ago that a full-time skilled lay person needs to be employed by a number of dioceses (this has to be totally confidential and not answerable to any Bishop) who will knock on the door of every priest and have a chat with him/her/ over a cup of coffee/tea – ask him/ her how are you doing etc. This person could recommend, if necessary, concrete ways to support this priest – pointing out possible resources on hand.
It is my view that this is Care of Priests in concrete action. I thinks its advantages are obvious and numerous.