Taking a break from Course of Study


This is my first summer living in Durham (my family moved here from New Hampshire last August for my husband to attend Divinity School), and one thing that I’ve noticed is that Duke is never a dull place!  In July, the Summer Course of Study is in full swing here, keeping pastors from all over the country quite busy with a full schedule of lectures, discussion and homework.

We at the Clergy Health Initiative thought it would be fun to provide a study break for the Spirited Life participants taking part in Course of Study.  And sure enough: hot coffee, healthy snacks and great conversation made for a wonderful time.

As a wellness advocate, I will say that I thoroughly enjoy my phone conversations with the pastors I work with, but nothing replaces the chance to catch up in person.  We enjoyed hearing about what the pastors are reading and discussing in their courses and the ups and downs of being away from their families and congregations for a month. (One pastor admitted to me that he thought his lay speakers were thrilled to have the chance to preach, but he didn’t think the congregation was quite as “thrilled”!)

The time also served as a great opportunity for our team to answer questions about the Spirited Life program.  A number of Group 3 pastors were there — these are participants who won’t begin our wellness program until 2013, so their contact with Spirited Life has been limited to health screenings and surveys.  It was great to talk with them about what they hope to get out of the program, and assure them that yes, their turn was coming!

All in all, it was a pleasant way to spend part of a (hot!) afternoon, and we owe a big thank you to all the pastors who stopped by!  My fellow staff members and I are pretty excited about our program, but it is always a blessing to be received with enthusiasm and generosity by the people we seek to serve.  The welcome that we have gotten from clergy across the state is truly one of the things that makes me feel lucky to be doing this work!

Summary and images by Caren Swanson

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About Caren Swanson

Caren is a former Wellness Advocate with Spirited Life who hails from a small town in the hills of NH, but currently lives in Durham, NC with her family. She enjoys growing, picking and arranging flowers, climbing the magnolia trees in Duke Gardens with her daughter Clara, and hosting potlucks with friends and neighbors.

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