The COVID-19 pandemic, along with its disproportionate illness and death in communities of color; national economic instability; and our country’s reckoning with systemic racism and oppression all converge to make pastoral ministry an immense challenge today. Throughout the state of New Jersey, members of the clergy report feelings of fatigue, increased anxiety, and stress as they strive to minister to their parishioners in the context of COVID-19 while simultaneously caring for their families and themselves. The pandemic has forced clergypersons to abandon their “usual” ways of providing pastoral care and adopt methods that are safer but often leave people longing for pre-COVID-19 personal contact.
Recognizing the stress their clergy are experiencing, the Episcopal Mental and Spiritual Health Crisis Ministry (EMSHCM) of the Dioceses of Newark and New Jersey have established a new ministry offering an array of resources to help Episcopal clergy throughout the state connect with appropriate mental and spiritual health providers. Many resources are provided on the ministry’s website, www.njmindspirit.org.
The centerpiece of this new ministry is a “Warm Line” that clergy may call in order to speak with a licensed counselor who will listen, offer support, and provide a referral for additional help, if needed.
The Warm Line hours are Wednesdays: 10 am to 12 pm; and Fridays: 4 pm to 6 pm. The Warm Line may be accessed by calling 609-365-WARM (9276). Calls received outside of those hours will go to voice mail, and the call will be returned on the next business day. If clergy are experiencing a mental health emergency, they should call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The Episcopal Mental and Spiritual Health Crisis Ministry of the Dioceses of Newark and New Jersey is a joint ministry of the Episcopal Dioceses of Newark and New Jersey. The EMSHCM was established as an offshoot of the COVID-19 Task Force, which was begun by the Rt. Rev. Carlye Hughes (Bishop of Newark) and the Rt. Rev. Chip Stokes (Bishop of New Jersey).
For more information, please call the Director of the Warm Line, Dr. Rosalie DiSimone-Weiss at 732-548-6359 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.