Ministry Vitality

Resources to support ministry leaders in establishing healthy and vital pastoral relationships. Includes benefits and leaves, policies, and networking opportunities.

Findings of the Flourishing in Ministry Study

United Church ministry personnel were invited to participate in the Flourishing in Ministry survey in February 2018. Designed and implemented by the Wellbeing at Work research group, it examined everyday happiness, resilience, self-integrity, and thriving. For a summary of positive insights, concerns, and major themes, and some questions for reflection on the findings, read Findings of the Flourishing in Ministry Study under Downloads, below.

Practical Matters

  • Compensation and Benefits: Visit the Compensation and Benefits section to learn about your group benefits, pension, and salary.
  • Financial Assistance: Limited funds are available to provide financial assistance to ministry personnel and lay leaders.
  • Employee and Family Assistance Program: Learn more about this confidential counselling service.
  • LifeSpeak Wellness Platform: Access confidential wellness information from your computer or cellphone.
  • Leaves and Absences: Church policy and employment legislation allow eligible ministry personnel to take time away from their regular responsibilities for various reasons.
    • Learn about maternity leave, parental leave, and sabbatical leave in the Pastoral Relations: Supporting the Pastoral Relationship resource, available under Downloads, below. To determine salary continuance and top-up payment amounts during a maternity or parental leave, see the Calculating Maternity and Parental Leave Top-Up  worksheet under Budgeting Tools for Treasurers.
    • Financial assistance to help pastoral charges enable sabbatical leave may be available.
    • Also review the health benefits in your Group Benefits Plan and the short-term Restorative Care Plan.
  • Buying United: Group discounts are available to lessen the financial strain for both ministry personnel and communities of faith.

Guidelines and Policies

Be sure to review the following, under Downloads, below:

  • Ethical Standards and Standards of Practice for Ministry Personnel
  • Guidelines for Counselling by Ministry Personnel
  • Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy
  • Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy
  • Police Records Checks
  • Pastoral Relations: Engaging and Supporting
  • Retirement and Pastoral Relations

(Note that there is a mandatory training on the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy.)

United Fresh Start

The United Fresh Start educational program is for ministry personnel and lay leaders serving congregations that are in transition, especially those in a new pastoral relationship. In the United Fresh Start program, a trained facilitator meets with a faith community group that includes lay leaders and the newly called or appointed ministry personnel. The facilitator works through modules from the United Fresh Start program with this group. Together, ministry personnel and lay leaders gain a mutual understanding of leadership expectations, role clarity, and the use of power and authority.    

A key premise of United Fresh Start is that both communities of faith and leaders are most open to new learning during times of transition. The first two years of a pastoral relationship is an ideal time for the community of faith and minister to work together to develop a common knowledge base for the challenges they will face during their time together. United Fresh Start, therefore, has been primarily viewed as a program that is ideally offered during times of change in the pastoral relationship.

United Fresh Start is based on some of the most prominent organizational development research published over the past two decades. The content is organized into 23 modules and addresses topics such as transformational leadership, change management, church size, conflict, decision making, power and authority, roles and expectations, and polarity management. 

As we work to support healthy pastoral relationships and nurture the vitality of both ministry personnel and communities of faith, United Fresh Start can assist in growing healthy pastoral relationships. This program is a way to improve the resiliency and overall wellbeing of ministry personnel and help foster healthy pastoral relationships right from the beginning. 

Ask your regional council staff if there is a United Fresh Start facilitator available to work with your ministry personnel and key leaders in your community of faith in the first two years of your new pastoral relationship.

For more information, including details about the program, visit United Fresh Start

Other Education and Networking

  • Webinars: United in Learning offers distance learning for church leaders on a variety of topics, from strengthening your ministry practice to budgeting to planning for retirement.
  • Continuing Education: There are opportunities for con ed at United Church theological schools. Canadian and international continuing education opportunities can be found through a database of the Anglican Church of Canada.
  • EDGE: A Network for Ministry Development: EDGE offers a number of resources to strengthen the vitality of both ministry personnel and communities of faith. EDGE’s coaching program connects certified coaches one-on-one with lay and ordered leaders.
  • United Church Foundation Granting Funds: When considering your continuing edication and sabbatical opportunities, check out the funding options available on the Foundation website.
  • Strengthening Congregations: Invigorate your congregation’s ministry and mission with resources to deepen your understanding of belonging, hospitality, compassion, witness, and hope.

Staying in Touch

  • Connex newsletter: Connex keeps readers on top of issues affecting your health and benefits, pension, employment policies, and other initiatives. Back issues can be found on United Church Commons.

Comments or questions? We’d love to hear from you. Please contact

Adam HanleyProgram Coordinator, Ministry Personnel Vitalityahanley [at] united-church.ca416-231-7680 ext. 3147
1-800-268-3781 ext. 3147