Sunday, February 15, 2009

What is chaplaincy?

We've just had our first two weeks of active involvement in the school chaplaincy, following weeks (if not months, in fact) of working out what it means for us and for the school. We have a carefully crafted document which states what we'll do and what we'll not do. we want to focus on the young people in more pastoral terms rather than the more lesson-based style of schools work. So our plan is to begin with what my first vicar referred to as "vicaring about" (or dyo-ing about in my case and curating about in the case of two members of our team!). It's a detached model really but within the school setting, mostly the canteen. For us it seems to have been a good start. We've met the young people in their informal setting rather than in the class-room. I hope to keep you posted about how it goes.

It's got me thinking about it all. There are all kinds of full-time chaplaincies out there but part-time chaplaincies in schools, hospitals, sports clubs, shopping centres and town centres are on the up. However... what is chaplaincy? What does it mean?

Well Bishop Alan posted this fantastic definition of what a chaplain is:

"Someone who learns and listens carefully to the languages people use to express themselves, a spiritual interpreter, someone who can hold the lines and ask key questions of any and all, including themselves."

Any thoughts and wisdom on that one people?


Mel said...

I have previously commented on my chaplaincy experience at university. I find it hard to put into words what made it 'work' the way it did. And I will say that a university chaplaincy will probably differ quite a lot to a chaplaincy in a school or hospital. But I think maybe that's the point. I think chaplaincy is essentially about meeting people where they are, either by providing a space within that specific environment, by going out to meet people, or a combination of the two.

As I have experienced, this proactive but unintrusive approach can result in a close-knit but open community which acts out the greatest commandment in a variety of different ways, some simple, and some are not quite what you would expect.

Tim said...

I agree, chaplaincy is about providing 'thrid spaces' where students feel comfortable enough to 'let their guard down' and have real conversations. It is a long process though to build that relationship and trust.

Keep up the good work!!