Press Release: GBPHB Center for Health Releases Clergy Health Survey Results

For Immediate Release
May 11, 2012

Contact: M. Colette Nies, Managing Director, Communications
(847) 866-4296 or

Glenview, IL—The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits’ (GBPHB) Center for Health today released the results of its annual clergy health survey. The survey builds on the Center’s clergy health research conducted for the Church Systems Task Force (2010-11). Key findings confirm that the state of United Methodist clergy health is poor and continues to decline at faster rates than lay workers.

Survey Results and Key Findings
Nearly 2,000 clergy responded to the 100-question online survey, representing a cross-section of active United Methodist clergy by jurisdiction, gender, race/ethnicity and clergy type. Multiple dimensions of health (physical, emotional, social and spiritual) and the vocational setting were covered.

The incidence of physical conditions, including high cholesterol (54%), borderline hypertension (11%), asthma (16%) and borderline diabetes (9%) are higher than comparable benchmarks (matching clergy demographics). Those reporting to suffer from depression (6%) have an incidence twice that of comparable benchmarks.

Within the ranks of UMC clergy, gender and racial differences were also reported, notably:

  • Men are more at risk for cardio-vascular disease, diabetes and spiritual vitality
  • Women experience greater occupational stress and are at a higher risk for joint and muscle diseases
  • African-American clergy have a higher risk for hypertension and obesity, but exhibit lower rates of depression and stress
  • Asian clergy are healthier on several measures, including weight, arthritis and asthma

Next Steps/Recommendations
The resulting data will be used by the Center for Health to monitor trends and needs, as well as to develop programs and services to support United Methodist clergy in leading healthier lives—for themselves, their families, their congregations and communities.

Click here to read the complete survey report. Clergy health studies, articles and other recently-added resources are available at the Center for Health website.


About the General Board

The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) is a not-for-profit administrative agency of The United Methodist Church, responsible for the general supervision and administration of the retirement, health and welfare benefit plans, programs and funds for more than 74,000 clergy and lay employees of the Church.

GBPHB is the largest faith-based pension fund in the United States; with approximately $17 billion in total assets under management, it ranks among the top 100 pension funds in the country. As a socially responsible investor, GBPHB is actively involved in shareholder advocacy, proxy voting, portfolio screening and community investing.

About the Center for Health

The Center for Health seeks to improve multiple dimensions of health and well-being—physical, emotional, spiritual, social and financial—of clergy and lay workers of The United Methodist Church and their families. Center for Health offerings include strategic consultation and collaboration for plan sponsors, comprehensive programs, information and educational resources focusing on wholistic* health and wellness, long-term clergy health monitoring and assessments, and network coordination with other UMC agencies, seminaries and conferences.

* Note: The “w” should be used with the word wholistic* when speaking of health ministry and parish/faith community nursing. The Rev. Dr. Granger Westberg first advocated the use of the term "wholistic" rather than "holistic," to more closely relate the term to wholeness and to avoid confusion with the term "holistic" that connotes non-religious alternative health care practices. The connotation of the “w” in this specialty practice is the Christian faith instead of the holistic without the “w,” which connotes no specific faith or belief.



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