Not having had country ham before, the Italian in me located it somewhere near proscuitto, pancetta and guanciale only not as good.
Crackling, to which I was also introduced at this church, is another delicious story.
I left that church with nothing but love in my heart for the people there. Well, actually I left that church with a good bit of cholesterol in my heart too. And sodium in my veins.
My congregants’ words testified to their love for me; their culinary actions however betrayed nothing short of murderous intent. Like a porcine adaptation of Kathy Bates from Misery.
My country ham experience may be but one instance of a larger, pastorcidal trend, for, according to a new study of United Methodist Clergy Health, pastors are significantly less healthy than the general population.
This isn’t really a surprise. At Annual Conference, my denomination’s yearly gathering of clergy, one instantly notices not just the sea of white hair but the girth of God’s apostles.
According to the same study of Clergy Health, over 1/4 of Methodist pastors exhibit depressive-like tendencies.
John Wesley was OCD anal to put it lightly.
Martin Luther was plagued by a guilty conscience heavier than his substantial punching weight.
Jean Calvin was haunted by the death of his mother and his wife.
St Augustine had mommy issues that would make Freud blush.
Here’s a sampling of some of the stats:
2013 Key Findings:
- 40% of respondents are obese and 39% are overweight—much higher percentages than a demographically-matched sample of U.S. adults
- Nearly 51% have high cholesterol, also much higher than comparable benchmarks
- 5% suffer from depression
- 26% of all clergy have at least some functional difficulty from depressive symptoms
- UMC clergy have high rates of borderline hypertension, borderline diabetes and asthma
- Hostility of the church environment was cited by 47% who experienced at least one intrusive demand(not consulted about ministry decision; devotion to ministry questioned; doubts about pastor’s faith).
*It gets even worse-
I remember from a counseling class at Princeton that male mainline pastors tend to have significantly low (like barely not women) levels of testosterone.
As in all things, I am an exception.
I wonder if something more nefarious lurks behind the stats than country ham and covered dish congregations. I wonder if there’s something more depressing behind the mental health stats than the personalities church work has historically attracted.
I wonder if the main culprit- or an accessory to the crime- is the completely ridiculous and unfocused job description the United Methodist Church hands down to pastors. I wonder if obscuring the Reformation mandate for the priesthood of all believers leads to priestly obesity?
Take a look at this job description from the Book of Discipline and then tell me if you’re not tempted to scratch your head and reach for the Cheetos. But before you do…snark aside, this is a serious issue for pastors and churches. Obesity and the entire processed food industry threaten this country in real ways and we’re called, as Christians, to live as an alternative. A critique.
|¶ 340. The responsibilities of elders and licensed pastors are derived from the authority given in ordination. Elders have a four-fold ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service within the connection and thus serve in the church and the world. Local pastors share with the elders the responsibilities and duties of a pastor for this four-fold ministry.
1. Word and ecclesial acts:
a) To preach the Word of God, lead in worship, read and teach the Scriptures, and engage the people in study and witness.24
(1) To ensure faithful transmission of the Christian faith.
b) To counsel persons with personal, ethical, or spiritual struggles.
c) To perform the ecclesial acts of marriage and burial.
(1) To perform the marriage ceremony after due counsel with the parties involved and in accordance with the laws of the state and the rules of The United Methodist Church. The decision to perform the ceremony shall be the right and responsibility of the pastor.
d) To visit in the homes of the church and the community, especially among the sick, aged, imprisoned, and others in need.
e) To maintain all confidences inviolate, including confessional confidences except in the cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, or in cases where mandatory reporting is required by civil law.
(1) To prepare the parents and sponsors before baptizing infants or children, and instruct them concerning the significance of baptism and their responsibilities for the Christian training of the baptized child.
(1) To give pastoral support, guidance, and training to the lay leadership, equipping them to fulfill the ministry to which they are called.
b) To administer the temporal affairs of the church in their appointment, the annual conference, and the general church.
(1) To administer the provisions of the Discipline.
c) To participate in denominational and conference programs and training opportunities.
(1) To seek out opportunities for cooperative ministries with other United Methodist pastors and churches.
d) To lead the congregation in racial and ethnic inclusiveness.
a) To embody the teachings of Jesus in servant ministries and servant leadership.