Choose Health – UUMA Edition

The UUMA, in cooperation with the UUA Health Plan and the Office of Ministries and Faith Development, has recruited twenty brave volunteers, all UU ministers actively serving congregations, to take part in a pilot program to test how we can improve the health and wellbeing of ministers through participation in a comprehensive wellness program. Our professional partner is Duke University and their wellness advocates in the Clergy Health Initiative.

This blog has been created to give the pilot participants a chance to share with all of their colleagues just what it means to spend six months focusing on being “well” while serving a congregation.

The 20 wellness pioneers have all agreed to some common steps —

  • Complete a pre- and post-participation “perception of wellness” survey, adapted from the work at Duke University.
  • Work with their Wellness Advocate on diet planning, if appropriate for the individual.
  • Develop an exercise plan, with the support of their Wellness Advocate.
  • Take part in a monthly, moderated online small group, led by a Duke Wellness Advocate. Over the six months of the pilot, the small groups will discuss compassion fatigue, structural issues in the congregation, respite strategies, money issues, and privacy/boundary issues. The Wellness Advocates are also available for monthly, private consultations.
  • Develop, as a group, a model covenant between the minister and the congregation, recognizing the importance of taking time to engage in exercise, private reflection/meditation/prayer, time for the minister to be completely “off the clock”, and time for collegial discussion of the causes of and cures for clergy stress.
  • And finally, take part in an open blog – this blog — that can be read by UUMA colleagues, where pilot participants can post highlights – or lowlights – of their experiences.


We hope that something resonates for you as you read the posts from the participants. In the spring we’ll do an assessment of the pilot, including a review of your thoughts as you express them in this blog. If the pilot shows promise, the UUMA and the UUA Health Plan will work on ways to expand the program. Your thoughtful input matters.


Jim Sargent

UUA Health Plan Director