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Title: How Uniting Church in Australia clergy, particularly females, experience and deal with stress in ministry
Contributor(s): Pereira, Peter John (author); Mackay, Frances (supervisor); Moir-Bussy, Ann (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2008
Copyright Date: 2007
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: The focus of this study is how Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) clergy, particularly females, experience and deal with stress in ministry. The stress experience of female clergy in Australia is an unstudied phenomenon and this research represents an attempt to address this research gap. Although the study has a particular focus on female UCA clergy, three of the clergy interviewed were male. The reason for this sampling choice was to provide opportunity for exploring gender differences in relation to the clergy stress experience. Since the study seeks to understand the lived experience of stress of UCA clergy, particularly females, a qualitative narrative methodology informed by heuristic and constructivist approaches to analysis has been used. A narrative approach assumes that the experience of stress can only be adequately understood within the context of a person's life, including their social and cultural context. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight members of the UCA clergy to obtain narratives about their experience of stress in ministry. As an insider researcher, my story as a member of the UCA clergy is included to provide the reader with an understanding of the interpretive framework through which I view the participant narratives. The study emphasises a philosophical position that argues that the experience of stress can only be adequately understood against the back drop of the context in which a person lives. Although there are some commonalities between the male and female narratives, the stories show evidence of particular stressors for females in ministry and that there may be differences in the ways that male and female clergy respond to stress. The stories of the participants in the study also suggest that female UCA clergy are still pioneers. UCA female clergy still face discrimination, although the denomination has ordained female clergy since its inception in 1977. The research leads to a number of recommendations relating to the following needs: development of a clearer understanding of 'call' in the UCA; education of congregations in relation to the reason the UCA has female ministers; examination of the UCA model of church leadership; stress management for ministers and education of Presbyteries in relation to gender differences and stress.
Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Rights Statement: Copyright 2007 - Peter John Pereira
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
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