Stress and Coping Strategies Among Rural Clergy: A Quantitative Survey

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This book presents an empirical overview of the personal and contextual factors that surround the work-related lives of rural clergy who are responsible for multi-parish rural churches at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It aims to add scientific rigour to important factors surrounding the ‘work-related psychological health’ of rural clergy which is an area that has previously been little explored.


“The relevance of this research, however, is by no means limited to the Church of England. What Dr. Brewster has done in this study is to demonstrate the international and ecumenical relevance of undertaking professionally designed and professionally conducted research among the clergy. Churches that fail to take their clergy seriously… are failing not only in their duty of care to those clergy, but also in their best advocacy of the ministry and mission to which they profess commitment.”
-Revd. Canon Professor Leslie J. Francis,
Professor Religions and Education,
University of Warwick

“The amount of information synthesis in this book is to be commended in the way it makes the complexity of the field easily accessible to the reader. The results from the new sample are presented clearly with a coherent and engaging narrative… This book should be read by clergy, parishioners, but most of all by those with pastoral responsibility for those clergy working in rural multi-parish benefices.”
-Dr. Mandy Robbins,
Reader in Psychology
Glynd?r University, Wales, UK

“This book provides a timely and important overview of the coping strategies and stress among rural Anglican clergy in multi-parish benefices…This book should be part of core reading for those currently working in rural ministry, those training ministers and church authorities. In addition, applied psychologists and counsellors will find the book of great relevance in understanding the effects of work-related psychological health.”
-Dr. Emyr Williams,
Sr. Lecturer in Psychology,
Glynd?r University, Wales, UK

Table of Contents

Chapter 1:The Rural Ministry Survey:

The research questionnaire
Data collection and analysis
The sample of rural clergy: personal details
The sample of rural clergy: work –related issues
The sample of rural clergy: health issues
The sample of rural clergy: training and support
The churches: electoral roll and attendance numbers
The churches: baptisms, confirmations, weddings, wedding blessings and funerals
The churches: financial issues
Chapter 2:Understanding Stress and Stressors
Stress and stressors defined
Stress as an internal response
Stimulus-based definitions of stress
Interactional and transactional definitions of stress
The measurement of stress and stressors
Physiological arousal
Life events
Daily hassles
The rural clergy stressor inventory
Theoretical background
The complication process
Stress, stressors and the clergy
Stressors among the sample of rural clergy
Chapter 3: Secular Coping: A process-centered approach
The secular coping process defined
Methods of coping
The measurement of secular coping
The Ways of Coping (Revised) checklist
Secular coping and the clergy
Secular coping preferences among the sample of rural clergy
Chapter 4:The Process of Religious Coping
Religious coping defined
Conservation of significance
Transformation of significance
The measurement of religious coping
The RCOPE Measure of Religious Coping
Religious coping among religious groups
Religious coping preferences among the sample of rural clergy
Religious coping to find meaning
Religious coping to achieve a sense of control
Religious coping to achieve comfort and closeness to God
Religious coping to achieve intimacy with others and closeness to God
Religious coping to find religious direction/conversion
Chapter 5:Assessing Professional Burnout
Professional burnout defined
The measurement of professional burnout
The Francis Burnout Inventory
Professional burnout in the context of clergy studies
Professional burnout among the sample of rural clergy
Personal and contextual data
Stress and Stressors
Secular coping
Religious coping
Professional burnout
Future research

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