The Charlotte Observer ran a news story last week about the medical leave of the Rev. Steve Shoemaker, the pastor of Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte. Shoemaker wrote in a letter to his congregation on December 28 that he is “physically, psychologically, and spiritually depleted, and must get help.”
Shoemaker entered a 30-day residential treatment program in Maryland for help with depression and anxiety. He said he had been taking prescription medication and had recently been self-medicating with alcohol.
In the article, Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, a member of Myers Park Baptist church, ordained minister, and physician administrator, lauded Shoemaker’s passionate ministry and dedication to improving the lives of others. She shared: “Being a pastor the way Steve does it, you’re refueling everybody else … but not often do you stop to let the big tanker come and refuel you.”
While this story may have been ground-breaking news for some readers, clergy depression is something we are well aware of at the Clergy Health Initiative. We encourage pastors to be mindful of their emotional, physical, and mental health, and to seek the support they need to pursue wellness when they are feeling depleted.
At Spirited Life, we give thanks for Rev. Shoemaker’s honesty and vulnerability at a time of exhaustion. We are grateful for his courage to seek treatment. Thank you, Rev. Shoemaker, for being a witness to others of our limitations as humans seeking to follow Christ in ministry in the world. May this time apart and away be one of healing and restoration, to the glory of God the Father, the Great Healer.
(image by flickr user mlhradio/via Creative Commons)