Original Research

Clergies and self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic: A challenge to pastoral care

Hundzukani P. Khosa-Nkatini
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2338 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2338 | © 2022 Hundzukani P. Khosa-Nkatini | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 July 2021 | Published: 18 May 2022

About the author(s)

Hundzukani P. Khosa-Nkatini, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa


On the 15th of March 2020, the current president of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, declared a National State of Disaster as a response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A range of regulations and directions were effected in many countries to respond to this pandemic. Essential service workers were deployed across the country to help minimise the spread of the virus. Some of these essential service workers lost their lives in the line of duty. Clergies found themselves having to bury more people in a short period of time. The increase in the death rate resulted in an increase in funerals. Therefore, clergies were also part of the essential workers during this pandemic. Clergies also found themselves having to bury fellow clergies. Congregants and clergies became mourners. The church found itself having to adjust to the ‘new normal’, because the way church nine-function has changed, it will never be the same again. Clergies like many South Africans became chief mourners because they also had to bury their relatives. However, they also had to bury members of their own congregations because of COVID-19 related illnesses. This challenged the way pastoral care has always been done. It challenged clergies to find new ways of doing pastoral care while keeping social distance, protecting themselves and others. This article looked at the practice of practical theology during the COVID-19 pandemic, reflected on caregiving during the pandemic, referred to literature to encourage clergies to acknowledge their own pain and also briefly discussed the change in ministry since the beginning of the pandemic. The aim of this article was to challenge pastoral care to look deep into caring for clergies, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. As they care for others, they also need to be cared for.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The contextual perspective challenged by this research is the understanding of self-care for clergies, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research calls for a change in the traditional cause of Practical Theology. This research will be done using a literature review on suicide according to both Christianity and psychology.


caring; care-givers; clergies; pandemic; COVID-19; pastoral care; death; stress; ministry


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Crossref Citations

1. Exploring the Changing Experiences of Chaplains Employed in Care and Residential Homes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Hope Siesage, Lorna Sams, Naomi J Ellis, Chris Swift
Health and Social Care Chaplaincy  vol: 11  issue: 2  first page: 220  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1558/hscc.26645