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When Clergy Appreciation Day began in October of 1993, the idea was to honor and celebrate the selfless ministry of the nation’s clergy. Statistics show the clergy in the United States could use some appreciation. The nature of their work leaves many ministers feeling isolated, lonely, insecure, and inadequate. They deal, sometimes daily, with life crisis that would leave the average person drained, fatigued, and questioning. With no close friends to confide in, they live both their public and private lives in the fish bowl of their church and community.

“Many ministers toil compassionately week after week with rarely a ‘thank you,’ a pat on the back, or words of encouragement,” says Jim Hauskey of DaySpring Cards, one of several groups encouraging congregations nationwide to observe the second Sunday of October as Clergy Appreciation Day.

Pastors give comfort in crises and spiritual support when it is needed the most, yet nationwide surveys show:

• 90% felt inadequately trained to cope with job demands
• 70% had a lower self image than when they started in ministry
• 50% had considered leaving the ministry within the past three monthes
• 70% had no one they considered to be a close friend
• According to a Barna Research Report, “Nineties religious leaders have become increasingly overworked and underappreciated.”

“Most of us appreciate our pastors, but we tend to take them for granted. Having a national Clergy Appreciation Day reminds us to express our feelings, to act on our gratitude,” Hauskey says. “Our clergy truly are a national treasure. This official Day gives us a chance to follow Paul’s instructions in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 and 13 — ‘We ask you to honor those who work so hard for you... Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!’ ”

Over 40 states have proclaimed Clergy Appreciation Day as an official day. This year DaySpring would like to see it observed in all 50 states and proclaimed by President Clinton as a national observance. “We have Secretary’s Day and National Firefighter’s Day” Hauskey says, “why not have a National Clergy Appreciation Day?”

A groundswell of public support is needed to turn Clergy Appreciation Day into a national event. Jerry Frear, of Under His Wings Ministries in Pennsylvania, says more than 5,000 letters were sent to the president two years ago asking him to proclaim the day. Several U.S. senators have petitioned Clinton on the subject. DaySpring, Under His Wing Ministries, Focus on the Family, and several other groups promoting Clergy Appreciation are asking people to write letters to the president and to urge their senators to sign the petition. Frear says it took this kind of effort to get the National Day of Prayer on the calendar.

Regardless of the national status, several events are planned nationwide to encourage congregations to do something special for their ministers on the second Sunday in October. Everything from radio contests to luncheon tours to concert tours will put a spotlight on the sacrificial service of the nation‘s clergy. DaySpring has well over 100 cards available in its Clergy Appreciation Day card line, available at Christian bookstores nationwide.

DaySpring also offers the best selection of Clergy Appreciation electronic greeting cards, or e-Cards, on the web.

“But the most important observances will be in the churches,” Hauskey says. “It is that one-on-one sharing that reminds the minister and his family that they are truly loved and appreciated. And in their individual and joint expressions of gratitude, the members of the church may just be reminded of the blessings they have as a congregation.”

For more information about Clergy Appreciation, see Groundhog Day inspires special month to honor clergy. Also check out Holidays and Celebrations

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