Reflections from the Chair - February 2022

14th February 2022

If you prefer you can watch this reflection on YouTube.

Yesterday a Head Teacher told me about her school, a rural one-form-entry Church of England primary, one of the ordinary and extraordinary places full of people working their socks off as they learn and teach and care amidst the continuing consequences and concerns of Covid.  Then she asked me about chaplaincy.  This was our first, exploratory conversation and I shared with her some models of chaplaincy

There are chaplains who are full-time and part-time, paid and honorary.  Sometimes chaplaincy is the primary role, sometimes it is a part of a larger youth and children’s ministry or a church leader’s role.

Whatever the model, chaplains are there as pastors, offering planned pastoral care with individuals and groups, and meeting people where they are and listening, caring and praying, whether that’s at the school gate or in the staff room, at the photocopier or in the classroom.  Chaplains are spiritual leaders, there to pray for and with the school, to offer spaces for young people and staff to explore faith and meaning, through collective worship, small groups and informal conversations, and to help the school live out it’s ethos and values.  As pastoral and spiritual leaders chaplains offer practical compassion, looking outwards, working in partnership with local churches and other agencies and helping to enable all to have the essentials they need, practically, pastorally and spiritually, to live life in all its fullness.

Within seconds of me finishing this description of chaplaincy, the Head Teacher committed to setting up and funding a chaplaincy.  Moreover, she said that she was going to talk to other Head Teachers and schools in neighbouring villages to see if they could create a full time post between them.

My next conversation was with a secondary school chaplain about whom the Head Teacher said: ‘The chaplain has contributed so much to our community as a non-church school. I suspect that there have been benefits to us that we had perhaps not expected.  He has earned huge respect in our community and has added a calming and reflective element to our culture, which is noticeable when he is with us.’  A new chaplaincy to a feeder primary school is also now planned [the set-up meeting is next week].

Next week, I will be privileged to commission another school chaplain and a team of pupil chaplains [that’s another story for another time] at yet another primary school.  At the other end of the age spectrum, we are close to appointing two new FE College chaplains.  A chaplaincy in every school and college…?  It can seem like a huge aspiration, it is a huge aspiration, but, by the grace of God, it is becoming a reality one school and college at a time.



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