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Spirited Life is a program of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative, which is part of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

The Clergy Health Initiative was formed in 2007 when the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church partnered with Duke Divinity School and The Duke Endowment to seek solutions to their growing concerns about declining pastoral health and increasing health costs.


In 2008, the Clergy Health Initiative conducted 11 clergy focus groups and fielded a survey that 95 percent of United Methodist clergy across North Carolina completed. We repeated this survey in 2010 and 2012, forming a longitudinal view of clergy health.

The findings from this research established a clear picture of clergy health and the factors affecting it. We now know with certainty that United Methodist clergy in North Carolina are more likely to suffer from obesity, chronic disease, and depression than other comparable state residents, and we have a better understanding of the factors in the lives of clergy that expose them to greater risks of poor health.

Detailed information about our research findings is available on the Clergy Health Initiative website.

Pilot Program

The Clergy Health Initiative launched a pilot wellness program in 2009 with 81 pastors in the Goldsboro District of the North Carolina Conference and the Northeast District of the Western North Carolina Conference. Our initial research and feedback from pilot program participants guided the development of Spirited Life.