We have retained the word chaplaincy in our name as we began as a faith based initiative and want that to continue. At the same time we constantly stress that we offer support to people of any faith or none. The same welcome and commitment to help is given to everyone and there is no requirement to even show an interest in faith issues. Those of us who do profess faith and come from a Christian perspective meet each week on a Thursday at 1pm for half an hour. During the Bible Reflection and Prayer time (BRP) we read a short passage from the Bible, share our thoughts on it and then pray specifically for the needs of the work and those who have come to us for help. In this way we demonstrate that our confidence is not in ourselves but in God who has promised to forgive and restore all who turn to him.
We understand and accept that not everyone will come to share this view. For those who come to us with a different understanding and experience wanting to pursue this we will seek to obtain for them the help they require. Where appropriate and requested this could include introducing them to a local faith community of their choice. Our commitment to help them with any issues they may have and to make them feel welcome at our centre will remain undiminished.
Our current chaplain wants to see a real community at Community Chaplaincy and says that this is what he works and prays for. Here is his explanation:
A Community at Community Chaplaincy
Community chaplaincy is about having chaplains in the community. Just like there are chaplains in prisons who seek to help and serve those in prison no matter what attitude they may have to faith so there will be chaplains in the community seeking to help and serve those who have been released. My hope, desire and prayer are that we will also have a community at Community Chaplaincy.
One Christian writer describes God in terms of persons in community. He explains that God the Father is the Father because he has a Son. He goes on to say that God created simply with a word of command until it came to humanity when he engaged in conversation, “Let us make man in our image”.
Man was created to be social not solitary and the image that was created was two not one. The gospel confronts our individualistic world-view and speaks of reconciliation, unity and identity as the people of God. We are meant to be persons in community in the image of God.
I want to see a community at Community Chaplaincy that has the gospel as its foundation and centre without making acceptance of this or even interest in this in anyway compulsory for everyone. So that although the truth of the Jesus as Lord and the Kingdom of God is foundational acceptance of this is not essential to being part of the community.
Not everyone will accept these truths which I believe are essential and some with valuable things to offer the community and others with needs to be met will hold to very different points of view. I would suggest, however, that the following ten things should be compulsory:
- The unconditional acceptance of everyone exactly where they are and as they are.
- A commitment to treat everyone with the same level of dignity and respect without showing any form of favouritism.
- A willingness to discover and seek to resolve the perceived needs of each person who comes to us.
- Sensitive, gentle and appropriate challenge of attitudes and behaviour that appears destructive or detrimental.
- A belief that everyone will have something to offer the community that is unique and beneficial.
- An agreement to be thoughtful and sensitive in our dealings with each other as well as appropriately open and honest.
- A commitment to forgive and resolve any difficulties that arise when we fail to do this.
- A refusal to gossip or criticise but to engage in conversation with those with whom we feel we have a problem
- To work as a team not as individuals and to value the ideas and contributions made by others.
- To aim at and value the meeting of others needs as our main goal.