Campbell Divinity to hold inaugural Pastor’s Health Summit June 2

BUIES CREEK, North Carolina – The Campbell University Divinity School will host its first Pastor’s Health Summit on Thursday, June 2, on Campbell’s main campus to provide pastors with resources and tools that will help them take better care of themselves and their congregations.

Open to pastors across North Carolina, the summit will include a full day of breakout sessions that focus on topics such as Dealing with Grief and Trauma; Balancing Marriage, Family, and Pastoral Demands; Nutrition and Exercise; Mental Health, Depression, and Loneliness; and Financial Health. Faculty and staff from Campbell’s schools of Divinity, Osteopathic Medicine, Pharmacy & Health Sciences, and Business will lead the sessions.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to partner with other programs at the university,” said Campbell Divinity Dean Andy Wakefield. “This summit also reflects what Campbell does best — combining academic expertise with hands-on application to meet the needs of our churches, communities and world.”

In addition to the breakout sessions, the summit will provide pastors with free health screenings for blood sugar, blood pressure, body composition, and depression, as well as time for devotionals and fellowship.

“The Pastor’s Health Summit will be an opportunity for those who are continually pouring the love of Jesus out on others to receive an invigorating shower of the same love and concern,” said the Rev. Jeffrey D. Sholar, senior pastor of Cedar Falls Baptist Church in Fayetteville. “The sessions will permit pastors to take measures to care for themselves. We as ministers often struggle with self-care and this summit will help us turn our focus inward for a day.”

The idea for the summit came from pastors themselves.

Peter Donlon, director of church relations and development at Campbell Divinity, visited with numerous local pastors over a recent two-month period and listened to the challenges they faced. Their stories were similar.

He began to think about the ways Campbell Divinity could offer support. He asked pastors: “If you could get away for a day to reflect, take care of yourself, and gain some resources for you and your congregation, what would that look like?”

They talked of needing resources to help their congregations cope with loss, substance abuse, addictions, and other challenges. Pastors themselves needed help understanding changes in tax laws; planning for retirement; balancing a congregation, a spouse, and young children; making do with limited resources; and staying healthy while facing increasing responsibilities.

“The idea began to come together, and I was suddenly aware of my heart for service to these pastors that serve others so well,” Donlon said.

Then Dr. David Tillman, assistant professor of public health at Campbell, approached Donlon. Campbell’s public health program was exploring ways to serve local pastors in the community, Tillman told Donlon. The two combined their efforts and established a steering committee of local pastors and representatives from the schools of Divinity, Osteopathic Medicine, Business, and Pharmacy & Health Sciences.

Out of that grew the summit, which the steering committee hopes will become an annual event each summer that draws pastors from across the state.

“Those of us in the health sciences want to contribute to Campbell’s faith-based mission.  For us, the opportunity to serve those who serve…to minister to the ministers…is a real honor and privilege,” Tillman said. “From a public health perspective, there are few community leaders–particularly in rural areas–whose reach is more comprehensive or influential than pastors.  A key to improving the health of our communities is helping faith leaders exemplify health and wellness in their daily lives.”

This year’s event will be held in Taylor Hall and Butler Chapel on Campbell’s main campus in Buies Creek. The cost is $20, which includes breakfast and lunch. Pastors can register online.

“This will be one more effort of Campbell University to invest in the lives of ministers for the glory of God,” Sholar said. “It will also be a great time of fellowship with other ministers and personal growth. And let’s face it, any time we get to spend at Campbell is always blessing.”