Clergy Support Trust (formerly Sons & Friends of the Clergy) is the UK's oldest and largest charity focused exclusively on supporting the wellbeing of Anglican clergy and their families.
The charity is an amalgamation over time of six Anglican clergy support organisations. The first of these, the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy, was founded in 1655 by a group of sons of clergy to support destitute clergy who had lost their 'livings' under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. In 1678, the organisation, by then known as the Governors of the Charity for Relief of Poor Widows and Children of Clergymen, received a Royal Charter from King Charles II. You can find out more about our history here.
Today, Clergy Support Trust continues this centuries-old tradition of supporting Anglican clergy households in times of hardship or need. We see our mission as being to promote and sustain the wellbeing of Anglican clergy and their dependants, so that those called to ordained Anglican ministry can flourish as they seek to serve their communities. Throughout our history we have done this by providing financial grants to eligible households in times of poverty or hardship, or other need. In recent times we have sought to expand our range of support services beyond the provision of financial grants, and to focus more holistically on clergy wellbeing.
Why does Clergy Support Trust exist today?
In the Church of England today there are around 20,000 serving clergy. In addition there are hundreds of clergy in the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland, as well as many thousands of retired clergy who are no longer in active ministry. This, together with around 1,500 people training for ordained Anglican ministry (ordinands) in any one year, constitutes our core beneficiary group, together with their families and dependants.
With basic stipends and often with housing provided, most clergy families flourish and do not need extra support in their daily lives. But a minority of clergy families struggle, often with financial hardship or a health problem. Financial difficulties and stress are a particular risk. Clergy Support Trust commissioned detailed analysis in 2017 of the financial wellbeing of Anglican clergy and ordinands. Highlights of this and other related research* included the following:
- Around 20% of ordained clergy and 34% of ordinands said they were struggling or ‘just about getting by’ financially.
- Some 29% of ordained clergy with children under 16 years in the household reported financial difficulties.
- 43% of those in stipendiary ministry said they were finding it difficult to save money regularly.
- 17% of respondents (ordained clergy and ordinands) said they felt regularly, often or always burned out by their ministerial role.
- 26% felt isolated in their ministry/training.
- 20% felt isolated in their personal life.
Other studies of Anglican clergy households have shown:
- Over 30% of clergy have suffered from depression since ordination.
- 11% of clergy never take a day off.
- 12% of clergy said they were ‘struggling’ or ‘barely coping’.
- Over 40% of clergy ‘occasionally’ or ‘often’ thought about giving up ministry because of stress.
Clergy Support Trust exists to provide confidential and focused support to clergy who are facing financial and other challenges, working directly with beneficiaries but also when appropriate in partnership with the Church and other like-minded organisations.
Our charitable objects
The current charitable objects of Clergy Support Trust were established in 2012 through a Charity Commission Scheme and an Order in Council as part of the amalgamation, effective 1 January 2013, of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy and the Friends of the Clergy Corporation into Sons & Friends of the Clergy. These objects were effectively enshrined in our 1678 Royal Charter and were further amended by a Scheme and Order in Council in November 2017. Today our objects are:
...assistance to beneficiaries, whether directly or indirectly, in such manner as and by such means as the Court of Assistants from time to time in their absolute discretion think fit for the relief or prevention of poverty or hardship or for the relief of illness and the promotion of health, whether physical or mental.
“Beneficiaries” means members of the clergy, ordinands and the spouses, former spouses, children and dependants of living or deceased members or former members of the clergy or ordinands.
- “children” includes adopted children, step-children and persons treated as the children of a marriage or civil partnership.
- “civil partners” means the members of a civil partnership within the meaning of Section 1 (1) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
- “clergy” and “members of the clergy” means bishops, priests and deacons of the Anglican Communion.
- “ordinands” means persons who are preparing for ordination as members of the clergy.
- the “spouse” of a person means his or her wife, husband, civil partner, widow, widower or surviving civil partner.
Glyndŵr University study into clergy wellbeing (September 2010)
St Luke’s Healthcare for the Clergy study into clergy stress (October 2013)
‘Living Ministry’ Wave 1 survey by Ministry Division (June 2017)
‘A Closer Look at Financial Wellbeing’ by Ministry Division (December 2017)