A Very Modern Ministry: Chaplaincy in the UK
Ben Ryan analyses the scope and importance of chaplaincy in the UK today. (2015)
Chaplains are increasingly the face of public religion. This report explores the chaplaincy landscape in Norfolk.
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This new audit of chaplaincy in Norfolk shows that chaplains are now from every faith, and are to be found in settings as diverse as lifeboats and theatres, ambulances and airports as well as more traditional habitats such as hospitals, prisons and the military.
We carried out the audit to try to understand the extraordinary growth of the chaplaincy phenomenon today. It follows on previous work conducted by us in 2015 culminating in the report A Very Modern Ministry: Chaplaincy in the UK.
The project included a detailed mapping of chaplains in Norfolk between October 2016 and March 2017. It discovered that there are 230 chaplains operating in Norfolk. They were working in 26 different fields including Norwich playhouse, Norwich City FC, Norfolk scouts and Norwich International Airport.
The vast majority are volunteers with only 11% working full–time, and only 31% of Norfolk’s chaplains receiving a salary or stipend for their work.
Interestingly, although Christians still dominate the chaplaincy scene in Norfolk (85% of the total), there were also chaplains representing 9 other faith groups (Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Pagan, Baha’i, Humanist and Mormons). This confirms a changing chaplaincy landscape, with Christian chaplains still dominating, but many minority faiths and belief groups having a growing chaplaincy involvement.
Ben Ryan, one of the Theos researchers involved in the audit, said that “the research underlines the extraordinary growth of chaplaincy today. In a country in which we are constantly told that faith is on the decline chaplains are providing pastoral and spiritual support across an enormous range of settings and demonstrating that faith groups are willing and able to contribute something valuable to public life in the UK. Chaplains are fast becoming the public face of religion”.
Chris Copsey, Chaplain at County Hall Norwich and Norfolk’s coroner’s court, explains the work of chaplains:
Chaplaincy is a really strong resource that is being recognised more and more and this report shows chaplaincy is an active presence across many parts of the County.
As Chaplains, we offer a non–judgemental, completely confidential and safe place to speak and be listened to. We walk alongside people and offer support, comfort and hope, whatever their need.”
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