FAQ

Yes and no! Spirited Life:™ Selah is an outgrowth of the previous work done by the Clergy Health Initiative in which over 1200 pastors were guided through two years of holistic health interventions. Selah builds on that work by going deeper into the particular health areas of mental health and stress. Unlike the first iteration of Spirited Life™, Selah is an intervention program that will teach up to 550 clergy one of three stress-reduction practices.

If you are currently (2019-2020) under appointment as an elder, deacon, local pastor, or extension minister in either the Western NC Conference or NC Conference of the United Methodist Church, you are eligible for Spirited Life: Selah. If you are retired, but currently under appointment, you are eligible. Participation in Spirited Life (2010-2014) is NOT required for participation in Spirited Life: Selah. If you were a control participant during the pilot phase of Spirited Life: Selah, we would love if you joined us for a workshop and practice this time!

Following registration, Spirited Life: Selah begins with an online survey that takes 20-30 minutes to complete. Spirited Life: Selah continues with an overnight workshop. The workshops are one or two nights, depending on the program, plus the contiguous days. Each program also has virtual 90-minute follow-up sessions, with the number depending on the program. For six months following attendance at a workshop, participants will engage in daily practice ranging anywhere from 10-45 minutes; participants will be prompted daily by text message and asked to reply with the number of minutes they practiced (even if it’s zero). All participants will be asked to complete two other 20-30-minute online surveys, and many participants will also be invited to offer heart rate data by wearing a heart rate monitor for three 48-hour periods. The timing of these additional surveys and heart rate data depends on whether the participant was assigned to receive their workshop before or after October 2020.

Click here to compare the time commitment for each intervention.

Food, lodging and programming overnight workshops are offered at no cost to all participants. Transportation costs to and from the workshops are the responsibility of participants.

All participants will be asked to complete surveys at certain points in the process, and will receive compensation for each survey completed.

Some participants will be asked to provide heart rate variability (HRV) data at certain points, and will be compensated for each time HRV data is provided.

Some participants will be asked to participate in an in-depth interview, and will be compensated for the time involved.

In early 2020, participants will be invited to learn about and consent to participate in the Selah study. They will be asked to rank each of the three practices based on their preferences. In late February 2020, registrants will be assigned to a practice; we will try to give every participant their preferred practice. In addition, registrants will be assigned to a time frame before or after October 2020. Participants will then receive a link to register for overnight workshops based on the practice and time frame to which they have been assigned.

Note: The first stage of registration closed on Feb. 14, 2020. Those who signed up before that date should look for a workshop signup email coming in late February-early March 2020.

The overnight workshop you attend will depend on a few factors. You will be assigned to a particular practice group and a selection of workshops will be emailed to you. These workshops will represent a variety of dates, locations, and venue types. You may select from among these workshops based on what works for you in any of these areas. You are welcome to travel across the state and make the workshop a “destination” event. You are welcome to choose based on date, or because you have always wanted to enjoy a particular venue location.

Nope! You are welcome to travel as far from home as you desire to attend a Spirited Life: Selah workshop.

A Spirited Life: Selah workshop is an opportunity for you to leave behind your busy life and have a selah. For 24-48 hours (depending on your assigned practice), you will join 20-25 fellow clergy from around the state in prayer, silence, teaching, and engagement with your assigned practice. With the exception of your transportation to and from, the entire cost of the Selah workshop is covered by the Duke Clergy Health Initiative, with the generous support of The Duke Endowment. Workshops will be hosted around the state in retreat centers, hotels, and other venues.

Email us at selah@duke.edu. In fact, this is the email address you can write to if you have any questions at any time along the Selah journey. Our team will be happy to answer your questions.

Yep! Every day for six months following your overnight workshop, you will receive a text message from us with a reminder to practice as well as encouragement and tips along the way. Each day we ask you to easily respond to these texts with the number of minutes you practiced the previous day.

Depending on your practice group, there will be several opportunities for follow-up. If you are enrolled in the MBSR group, you will attend six online classes and have the option of registering to attend a day of mindfulness event in Durham or Cary three to six months later. If you are enrolled in Stress Proofing or Daily Examen, you will sign up at your overnight workshop for two online follow-up sessions with your instructor. The Selah team will also remain in contact with you throughout the program.

The Spirited Life: Selah program represents a commitment that you are making to attend to your mental and emotional well-being. We have designed the program such that it begins with the gift of a day apart for rest and instruction. If you cannot make a commitment to 24 hours apart, you will lose an opportunity to be introduced to the stress-reduction practices via Selah. The 24-48 hour workshop represents a commitment on your part to begin a stress-reduction journey.

A normal human heart does not beat evenly like a metronome. Rather, upon closer observation there is constant variability between heartbeats. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) measures the variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats in milliseconds. HRV can be influenced by respiration, exercise, hormonal reactions, metabolic processes, cognitive processes, stress and recovery. When humans are relaxed, HRV increases. The activation of stress hormones and increase in a heart’s contraction rate decrease HRV. In the Spirited Life: Selah program, we measure HRV of participants for a 48-hour period at three different time points in the program in hopes of finding that participants’ HRV has increased across the six months of practice, thus indicating that the stress practices have been effective at helping participants manage their stress reduction.

The data collected from clergy during Spirited Life: Selah will be used to draw conclusions about effective ways to help clergy manage the stresses of ministry during changing and divisive times. These findings will be shared with The Duke Endowment and the leadership of the two North Carolina Conferences, and applied broadly by groups across the denomination and ecumenical community to support clergy.


Those enrolled in early 2020 are guaranteed to receive the services of Spirited Life: Selah. A change in status will not affect eligibility.

Spirited Life: Selah is funded by The Duke Endowment and offered to clergy free of charge. However, participation does require a commitment of time and effort, and participants must cover their transporation costs to and from the workshops.

No. The services and the research are integrally related to one another so that we can improve the services over time, and so that other conferences or churches who might want to adopt the same or a similar program can be assured of its benefits.

Absolutely not. None of your health information or survey responses will ever be revealed in a way that could identify you. View our confidentiality policies.

Your participation is voluntary. You may choose not to participate in any or all parts of the study. Your conference will have no way of knowing whether you have agreed to participate in the program, and they will not know any of your health data or survey responses. Also, you may decline to answer any questions on the surveys. You may withdraw your authorization for us to use your data that have already been collected (other than data needed to keep track of your withdrawal), but you must do this in writing by contacting Duke Clergy Health Initiative, 2608 Erwin Rd., Suite 1480241, Durham NC 27705, or via email at selah@duke.edu. For questions about your rights as a research participant, contact the Chair of the Human Subjects Committee at Duke University at 919.684.3030.

Thank you so much for participating in the Selah pilot program. It is because of you that we are able to have confidence in these additional workshops being offered now. We appreciate your continued interest. Because of limited resources, we must give other clergy first dibs on the current workshops. However, if you would like to go on a wait list, we would be delighted to contact you if a workshop does not fill or if there is a cancellation at the last minute. You would not be part of the research, but could potentially participate in the workshop and follow-up sessions.