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DYK? Clergy Care Options

Posted: September 16 2019 at 01:42 PM
Author: Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Ass't to the Bishop/Dir. of Connectional Ministries

Clergy serving in the local church fulfill many expectations. We show up to lead worship on Sundays, preach a good sermon, visit the sick, administer the church, provide comfort to the grieving, teach, witness, make disciples, and engage in social justice. 

This broad sweeping list reminds us that the life of a pastor is primarily focused on others. Clergy are caregivers who are drawn to the task of serving. This is good for our faith and good for the church but not always as good for the individual pastor.

Did you know changes are coming for active full-time clergy’s health insurance options? As caregivers, pastors can be so engaged in the task of others that we sometimes forget to take time to care for ourselves, and, by extension, our families. Our founder John Wesley, who was methodical in his living and ministry, often wrote about the disciplines of a leader’s life. These disciplines were spiritual, physical, financial and emotional.  

Clergy in the Northern Illinois Conference have been blessed with a system that relieves us of the day-to-day burdens of ordering our financial future and physical world.  We have a pension program that “cares” for our investments and we have comprehensive health insurance that covers our routine and special needs. We are cared for as others care for us.

Even as others are caring for us, these benefits are a partnership. Clergy can interact with their pension program designating funds to a personal investment plan and choosing the ways in which their pension resources are invested. Clergy can maximize their health insurance benefits by participating in wellness opportunities designed to minimize our dependence on medications and medical interventions. Virgin Pulse, a program that encourages physical activity and wellness, actually pays clergy for their self-care, offering incentives for doing the right thing! (Are you wearing your pedometer?)

This fall our Conference Board of Pensions is introducing a shift in the way the conference “cares” for clergy health insurance. Clergy will be given a choice in their health insurance coverage. Rather than “one size fits all,” this program will partner with clergy and their families, giving each participant an opportunity to choose the plan that best fits their situation. 

This is a big shift for those of us who have had the benefit of being cared for while we are busy caring for others. Now we are asked to take responsibility for our health coverage and give time and attention to our insurance needs.  

We will go through a learning curve since we have been taken care of for so long, but it is important that we participate in this work. Clergy currently enrolled in the HealthFlex program are invited to attend one of 5 training events in October. To learn more visit

Be sure to participate in one of these training events and embrace this opportunity to care for ourselves.

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