On Wednesday, May 22, clergy throughout the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference were invited by Bishop McAlilly and the Chairs of the Orders and Fellowship to gather at Montgomery Bell State Park for a “Clergy Day Apart.” At this gathering, clergy spent time in fellowship with one another and received resources to support their mental health.

Over the course of the day, clergy heard from several mental health professionals about strategies for prioritizing their own mental health in the midst of the demands of the pastorate. Rev. Dr. Sheila Peters, a licensed clinical psychologist with Fisk University and a local pastor in the TWK Conference, spoke about embracing a healthy vulnerability; Rev. Neelley Hicks, the leader of Triumph Over Trauma, presented on managing one’s wellness amidst seasons of change; and Courtney Lawson and Rev. Renee Dillard, both licensed social workers, discussed ways to balance pastoral priorities with self-care. 

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lewis, the Director of Community Partnerships with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, spoke on the day’s fruitfulness and importance.

“We really had a great day together at the event,” said Dr. Lewis. “Our clergy work so hard to serve the churches, people, and communities across our conference and beyond, and sometimes, in the midst of all that work, it’s important, I think to come away, to see one another, and as Bishop McAlilly said, to ‘take a breath.’ We had some really excellent presentations from experts in our connection on mental health, self-care, and supportive resources. We even found some time to do nothing and just be with each other! I think it was just what we needed in this season, and I hope we can continue that as a practice with each other.”