Clergy Perceptions of Denominational, Doctrine and Seminary School Support for Health and Wellness in Churches

Melissa Bopp, Benjamin Webb, Meghan Baruth, Jane A. Peterson


Background: Churches are a viable community partner for reaching large populations for health promotion interventions. Despite their usefulness, little is known about the institutional capacity or beliefs of churches toward health. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine how a churches’ doctrine, parent organization (e.g. conference/diocese), and leader training (e.g. seminary school) perceive and support health-related issues.

Design & Methods: Clergy (n=24) from multiple denominations participated in a semi-structured interview. The interviewer asked questions about the doctrine/philosophy of their church on health, parent organization support for health, and education and training on health. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded.

Results: Clergy reported that stewardship and holistic views on health were a part of their churches’ doctrine. Health insurance programs and clergy wellness initiatives were the most common form of health-related support from parent organizations. The majority of clergy reported minimal or no instruction on health during their education/training, and desired instruction on self-care in seminary school. These results indicate there are a number of institutional influences on health and wellness within churches.

Conclusions: Future programs could include policy and environment level initiatives to address clergy health, and the development of culturally tailored intervention concurrent with church doctrine.

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International Journal of Social Science Studies   ISSN 2324-8033 (Print)   ISSN 2324-8041 (Online)

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