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Dear God...
“The ocean is like God and raindrops are the religion. When they fall into the ocean they become one.”
Zoya Ahmed and Nurun Uddin
 

THE FREE CHURCHES GROUP

Supporting Free Church Chaplains in Higher Education Settings


Many Higher Education chaplains, in common with chaplains in other sectors, find themselves isolated from other ministers and leaders in their churches.

In some cases this may be because the church has not directly deployed them in a chaplaincy role and the post is not funded by the denomination. Some will be ordained ministers, others will be lay people, and it is difficult for the central administration of churches to deal with a category of ministry that incorporates so much variety.

The outcome of this is that some chaplains experience a lack of support and/or, at times, pressure to engage with their denomination over and above their chaplaincy responsibilities, in ways that may be unrealistic. There is a need for training, support and encouragement for those who are engaged in this valuable work, which has an impact on both students and staff in universities.
 
Through this project we aim to support chaplains in their ministry to students and staff in universities and other Higher Education Institutions. We believe that it is important to bring chaplains together, to share experiences, to generate new ideas, to solve problems and to offer mutual support.

We aim to achieve this through offering weekly “coffee and chat” sessions, online, in which chaplains are free to talk about whatever they like, and to get to know each other. A fundamental aspect of these sessions is spending time together in reflection and prayer. For many chaplains, who are so used to providing things for other people, it is important to have space and time when there are no expectations and in which no-one makes demands of them.
 
Through a series of webinars, we help chaplains to engage with spiritual, theological and practical issues relating to their ministry. We aim to hold a webinar every 2-3 months.

Funding from our grant has enabled us to offer a webinar entitled “Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic”, with two expert speakers on mental health and young people. We have also been able to edit the video of this webinar in order to make it more widely available. It can be found here:


 

 

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We have also hosted a webinar focusing on the chaplains and their experience during the COVID-19 Pandemic, looking at what has been learned that will enrich chaplaincy in the future.

Our speaker was Simon Perfect, from the Theos Thinktank, and he was able to speak to us about his research, in which he spoke with 16 chaplains, and about the report that resulted from that.

The video is available here: 

 


An additional webinar, working with colleagues from healthcare and prison chaplaincy, explored the nature of chaplaincy and the reality of life as a chaplain.

This webinar was offered as a first step for people considering getting involved in chaplaincy, or to enable them to support chaplains more effectively.

Opening up Chaplaincy is available here: