'It really is church with a difference'
A number of Baptist ministers serve as voluntary chaplains in their communities. In this short feature, several give an insight into these roles, including what's happened during lockdown
"For two and a half years I’ve been working as a mental health chaplain, covering a medium secure facility for 110 male patients. The day after lockdown started the Trust asked me to go full-time for six months. This didn’t seem viable but I decided along with my church leaders that I could give them 60 per cent of my week and church work for the rest.
"I recently held a communion service for six patients and two members of staff on one ward in the hospital and will be doing the same again this Sunday. It really is church with a difference. This is possible because each ward is counted as being a family unit. The average length of stay is over four years, so we get to know these guys really well."
"I head up a chaplaincy team whose main focus is retail and businesses. We also provide chaplaincy at a residential retirement care home in the town and were looking to expand into another care home before lockdown happened."
"I have been part-time chaplain to what is now called a Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for 34 years. My sector is in the learning disability directorate, and unlike many other hospital chaplaincy positions, I am working in extended relationship with people - some of whom I have known all that time! The people with whom I work have also had their description changed over time and currently the preferred term is people with learning disabilities. However, I use “my friends who happen to have a learning disability“ and my direct contact is with people who have more profound learning disabilities and other associated needs. It is a very enriching part of ministerial life!"
"I retired last year from my church pastorate, but I have continued in my role as volunteer chaplain to the local police station. This usually is simply a visit each week of about an hour to the station, but sadly at the moment the Force Chaplain has instructed us not to visit in person. Hopefully visits will be allowed again before too long."
"I am a voluntary, lay workplace chaplain serving under the auspices of an industrial mission organisation. I visit the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC offices so I am basically a chaplain to the civil service. No visits are taking place at the moment as the mission has suspended all chaplaincy visits."
"I am the part time volunteer chaplain for the police station near my church. There are around 200 police and staff based there. Having spent three years building up relationships it has been very frustrating and demotivating to being, in effect, ‘stood down’ by the local force. As lockdown commenced they informed all chaplains that we were not permitted to enter the premises and have contact with staff face to face.
"Although I had good relationships with many of the personnel, no one has contacted me, even though all of the chaplains offered to use WhatsApp etc. We have had minimal communication from the lead chaplain or anyone else. Even though they constantly maintain that we are a vital part of the caring and support for staff under normal circumstances, it is tempting to read their present stance as indicative of the fact that we are more about window dressing than vital!"
"I am a workplace chaplain in our local Asda. Our church is planted in the same community and so l myself work alongside Asda in the community around the church."
"I am an evangelist and pioneer with a ministry that in part supports chaplaincy in the leisure industry. We currently have chaplains working in gyms, sporting events, strip clubs, and in the DJ industry."
These chaplaincy snapshots were originally shared during a recent communication with our Ministries Team. They are anonymised as they weren't initially intended for publication, but each chaplain has subsequently given permission for their comments to be shared in this piece.
Find out more about chaplaincy here