Helen Jesty: May 2015
Chaplaincy Special — how Anna Chaplaincy fits into the wider scene
It is exciting for us Anna Chaplains to see that the second Issue Spring 2015 of the excellent Methodist magazine:' the connexion' is devoted to chaplaincy.
I thought you might be interested to see where we fit into the bigger picture.
John Wesley used to say that the world was his parish. On behalf of GAP Debbie, Jonathan and I serve as Anna Chaplains, under God's guidance, to make this a reality. Hadley Bennet does the same at Alton College and Lynn Powell has a post as chaplain at Treloar College. Reading the magazine helped me to pinpoint in my own mind what is distinctive about the chaplaincy approach.
I had no idea that chaplains were working in such innovative ways serving such wide ranging groups of people. Yet at the heart of the work there seem to be many similarities, core values lived out by chaplains whatever community the chaplain serves. Here are just a few that I picked out:
amongst people of any faith or none
alongside people — learning and sharing
offering a safe space for people to share in confidence
The points above are made by Heather, a chaplain working amongst people with HIV especially in the Lesbian,Gay,Bisexual and Transgender ( LGBT ) community, They struck me as central to all that Debbie, Jonathan and I do too.
'I am not good at just 'being' says Jenny, who is chaplain to a casino, but it is often what this job needs! In a world where we all rush around at a mad pace this is a real challenge for the chaplain. In this respect the older people we work amongst can teach us so much as they have to spend time just being rather than doing. I was chatting to Arthur and Doris Harvey about some project or other and I heard God say through him 'don't rush, be still'.
'It is a ministry of transformation', says Stan Brown, Church and Community Development officer.
There is transformation in the community receiving the chaplain, in the chaplain themselves and in the changing mission culture of the church commissioning them.
Chaplaincy invites us to step outside the Church to become guests in a space not controlled by us. Jesus, in his earthly ministry made himself vulnerable, depending on the hospitality of others. It reminds me of the writing of Robert Jones 'On the Characteristics of Chaplaincy — A Methodist Understanding.' He writes about St Martin of Tours in the 4th Century who cut his cloak in half to give to a destitute man. This image is a reminder that by doing this work we make ourselves vulnerable and exposed.
Another aspect of chaplaincy is that increasing numbers of lay people are involved, like Debbie and Jonathan. Bob Weighton passed on to us an article in the Methodist Recorder. The article reflects on the changing face and diversity of chaplaincy roles: Chaplaincy 'is no longer dominated by paid Christian clergy but is now predominantly a voluntary role' . In this respect it is moving back to its origins, as St Martin all those years ago was a lay person. So this ministry is open to us all.
It is a privilege for the three of us to serve you all in the GAP partnership in this way alongside Perhaps you have some more insights into what the central values should be and how we should live it out in Alton and beyond? It is work we can all share in so this little corner of God's world can become our parish, extending Wesley's vision, way outside the doors of our churches.
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