Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Events to help clergy achieve healthy balance in life


Clergy will fill their plates with healthy choices when they attend one of two free retreats hosted by the Wellness Committee.

  • Aug. 31 at OKC-New Hope

  • Sept. 1 at Tulsa-Faith UMC

The events begin with breakfast at 8 a.m. and conclude with "Feeding the Soul" at 3 p.m.

These inaugural OKUMC Healthy Clergy Retreats "would make John Wesley proud, for Wesley was concerned about physical, spiritual, and emotional health," said J.D. Ward, Wellness chairperson.

"When his brother Charles was struggling with his health, John wrote to one of the Methodist lay preachers and asked him to encourage Charles to consult a physician and stay active through physical exercise." The founder of Methodism also read extensively from the medical journals of his day and wrote "Primitive Physick."

Wellness program coordinator Debbie Ware echoed Wesley’s long-ago concerns.

And Stephen Mitchell, director of Benefits/Personnel, said, "We must get healthier." He reports to the Board of Pension & Health Benefits and despairs over rising costs for Oklahoma’s self-funded clergy health benefits plan.

Some annual conferences have stopped providing clergy health insurance because of cost, Mitchell pointed out. But Oklahoma’s leadership does not want to do that, he said.

"Your Insurance Plan" will be among the topics covered at the retreats.

Also: "Feeding the Body," about nutrition; "Walking Toward Health," explaining the Conference-sponsored Amazing Pace program; "Dining With Diabetes," the luncheon topic; and "Managing Stress."

Amazing Pace is part of a Conference wellness incentive that lowers health insurance premiums for participating clergy. Mitchell said participants overall are saving $16,320 monthly, and $195,840 for the year. Credits also are earned for achieving certain benchmarks in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, body mass index, etc.

For more information about the upcoming retreats, call
Debbie Ware, 405-530-2069. Each participant will earn one Continuing Education Unit.

Rev. Ward stated, "I decided that I had to lose weight, exercise more, and do a better job of managing my type-2 diabetes. These changes have blessed my life." He pastors OKC-New Hope Church.

In late June, the Center for Health of the General Board of Pension & Health Benefits released its 2015 Clergy Health Survey. Here are some key findings from the responses.

42 percent of UM clergy are obese, much higher than the 31 percent in a demographically-matched sample of U.S. adults.

49 percent have had high cholesterol levels, also higher than the matched sample; 16 percent currently do.

20 percent have high blood pressure.

26 percent have at least some functional difficulty from depressive symptoms, compared to 14 percent in the matched sample.

The full report is available on the Center for Health website, www.gbophb.org/cfh

Save these dates

  1. Sept. 30, Church Lay Employee Benefits Workshop (health and pension benefits), United Methodist Ministry Center, Oklahoma City
  2. Oct. 1-2, Clergy Benefits Retreat (financial planning), Camp Egan
  3. Oct. 12-13, Clergy Benefits Retreat (financial planning), Canyon Camp

Return to contact digest

Sign up for a Healthy Clergy Retreat at www.okumc.org/benefits   


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