Awarded as part of the university's $3.25 billion Duke Forward campaign, the gift will be used by the Duke Divinity School to expand the initiative, which aims to improve the health and well-being of United Methodist clergy in North Carolina and was launched in 2007 with a $12 million lead gift from the endowment. Research conducted as part of the initiative has identified a critical need for health programs targeting clergy in the state, who have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and depression than other North Carolinians.
The new gift from the endowment will enable the initiative to extend a longitudinal study of United Methodist clergy in North Carolina and further analyze the data. The gift also will support the continued implementation of Spirited Life, a multiyear health intervention program offered to pastors in the North Carolina and Western North Carolina conferences of the United Methodist Church. Among other things, the program offers weight loss and stress management services, with the aim of reducing metabolic syndrome, stress, and depression among clergy while enhancing their spiritual vitality.
"We greatly appreciate the leadership of the Duke Endowment in ensuring that this important research will continue," said Duke University president Richard H. Brodhead. "Duke's Clergy Health Initiative is contributing valuable expertise toward this complex issue, reflecting two of the core priorities of the Duke Endowment — health care and the Methodist church in North Carolina. Protecting the health of pastors helps to sustain the health of communities across our state."