Multi-faith chaplains serve Norfolk community
2011: Chaplains from across the county met for the annual multi-faith chaplaincy conference in June to talk about pastoral needs of the diversity of faith communities present in Norfolk.
Rev Simon Wilson reports
The annual Inter-disciplinary multi-faith chaplaincy conference organised by Good Work, in partnership with Norfolk and Waveney Churches Together, took place recently at Trinity United Reform church in Norwich.
Well attended, as always, the event brought together chaplains from a variety of contexts-including police, hospital, prison, local authority or education settings-from a diversity of faith communities including those from Christians, Muslims, Jewish and Sikh traditions.
The event also brought together a variety of different models of chaplaincy-some full-time, others part-time or sessional; some paid, others voluntary. The resulting gathering showed how increasingly important chaplaincy is as a dimension of the mission and ministry of our faith communities in a changing contemporary and cosmopolitan culture.
After a generous welcome from the Bishop of Norwich, showing the high regard and gratitude that church leadership has for the commitment and contribution that chaplains make to the institutions in which they serve and the wider community, Marie-Charlotte Remy Macaud from the Faith Matters project talked about recent work exploring the role of the Muslim Chaplain in public sector chaplaincy and in particular the understanding of community leadership through chaplaincy. Professor Paul Ballard, a well known academic theologian, explored the inner and outer formation of the modern chaplain and their place in the wider church.
The afternoon sessions were more practical- Jenny Kartupelis
from the East of England Faiths Council examined the wider context in which chaplains operate: the pastoral and practical factors arising from public sector cuts and restructuring and their prominent place in any “big society”.
David Capey from the East of England Faiths Agency outlined some of the resources available to chaplaincy teams to help them explore multi-faith aspects of their work, including the pastoral needs of the diversity of faith communities present in Norfolk
The chaplains also spent time reflecting on how to evaluate chaplaincy, where chaplains find their own needs met, what support is available and how chaplains can work together. Chaplains often feel isolated, so this mutual encouragement and dialogue is important. Chaplaincy is at the cutting-edge of the presence and engagement of faith communities in the uncertain, apparently secular, post-modern world in which we find ourselves. We have much to celebrate and be proud of.
Rev Simon Wilson
Social and Community Concerns Co-ordinator, Diocese of Norwich
County Ecumenical Officer, Norfolk and Waveney Churches Together