Towards a covenantal kirk: heeding stories of clergy stress in the Church of Scotland

Dunbar, Linda Jayne (2020) Towards a covenantal kirk: heeding stories of clergy stress in the Church of Scotland. DPT thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis explores the stories of Church of Scotland clergy who have suffered from work related stress during their parish ministries and their encounters with institutional and non-institutional supports.
Chapter One traces the researcher’s ontological and epistemological standpoint as it is woven around life events from childhood to present day and how these have shaped this research. Chapter Two places the question of clergy stress within the recent field of research, noting the growing use of qualitative methods, the increased value placed upon hearing the voice of participants and expounding upon feminism’s standpoint theory as a key research methodology. The detailed methods employed in this study form the basis of Chapter Three. The following four chapters summarise themes and understandings of clergy stress as expressed by participants. Chapter Four identifies the commonly identified causes of stress for parish ministers, including training issues, changing ministerial roles, unrealistic demands, conflict within kirk sessions and the Presbytery Disciplinary Procedure. Chapter Five widens the focus to explore the physical, mental and spiritual manifestations of stress that ministers have experienced. Chapters Six and Seven shift the focus to sources of support for ministers. Chapter Six records a picture of institutional supports which are ineffective, untrusted and unwanted. Chapter Seven shows the positive and effective non-institutional supports provided by Pastoral Supervisors, Spiritual Directors and trusted friends within the local setting. Chapter Eight offers a summary and identifies the lack of covenantal relationships between the institutional church and its clergy. The thesis concludes in Chapter Nine with suggestions for the National Church, regional Presbyteries, local kirk sessions and clerics.

Item Type: Thesis (DPT)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Church of Scotland, clergy, stress, clergy-stress, clergy-discipline, discipline, kirk sessions, Presbytery, '121', spiritual direction, pastoral supervision, trusted friends, elders, Session Clerks, mental health, pastoral care, Presbytery Chaplains, covenants, failed covenants, Scotland.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Walton, Professor Heather and Gunn, Professor Vicky
Date of Award: 2020
Embargo Date: 25 September 2023
Depositing User: Rev Dr Linda J Dunbar
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81670
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2020 15:09
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2021 13:34
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81670

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