Conversations about maternity leave policies in churches occur with greater frequency as more women serve as staff members. Initiating the conversation is often left to the woman minister, which can be difficult or awkward. And the conversation often does not take place until the woman minister announces that she is pregnant. A better case scenario is for churches to be proactive and establish a maternity leave policy well before it is needed, which will make the discussion less personal and not as urgent and will help the conversation participants to be less defensive.
If your church is in the midst of writing a policy, think about adopting a best practices policy. Consider advocating for your church to step out and take the lead in providing for their ministers, giving them time to care for families and to bond with babies, assuring them that they will have the financial resources needed to live without undue stress, and offering other resources that will help the minister feel safe, supported, and valued.
Also consider helping your congregation become a model for your community by offering the support and nurture to your ministers that your members would like to see adopted “out in the world.” The reality is that far too often the business world does a better job in providing for its employees than the church does in providing for its ministers. Establishing a thoughtful and generous maternity leave policy will demonstrate your church’s commitment to healthy families.
Most often the healthiest ministers and the healthiest churches are the ones who keep this conversation going, who continue to clarify needs, address challenges, encourage self-care on the part of ministers, and recognize the changes that happen within minister’s lives. To assist churches in crafting parental leave policies, Baptist Women in Ministry has gathered the resources below.
The following article written by Amy Shorner-Johnson offers further insights into how to engage in healthy discussions with the personnel committee and the congregation.
Maternity Leave for Women Ministers by Amy Shorner-Johnson
Finding needed resources and models for writing parental leave policies is sometimes a challenge. Below are maternity policies currently being used by Baptist churches. The policies reflect the diverse ways in which churches provide leave time and resources for staff ministers. These policies can provide a starting place for conversations about formulating your church’s policy.