Community chaplaincy

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Chaplaincy can be really exciting and it can also be really daunting at times. This week, I've had the privilege of listening to a soldier about personal struggles he's had, a dad who's struggling to stay above the breadline, a mum whose teenage child has given up on life, and a teenage girl who was so excited that I remembered her and her stories that she'd told me last term. I love the window that being a chaplain gives me on people's stories and lives, and the immense sense of trust that people place in me as they know that I will listen to them, hold them in prayer, and journey with them on whatever the next chapter in their life will bring.

We all have this immense opportunity in some ways. We can hear people when the world threatens to drown out their voice. We can stand with others in their sense of darkness. We can practically support those we encounter. We can be Jesus, in some ways, to a hurting and changing world. We can take strength from the relationship we have with God and share some of that hope and light with those around us. And we can all be there for each other.

The Methodist Church (who so kindly employ me) describe chaplaincy as (largely lay) people appointed by the church to work in all kinds of places outside the normal life of the congregation. Chaplains try to share God's love through offering care and support, and by representing Christian beliefs and values. We share the privilege of discovering what God is doing "out there" — beyond the walls of the church, and sharing stories within churches. Chaplains exercise a particular pastoral and practical care for people in critical need, and do so through the greatest sensitivity and respect. We don't "do projects" or "grow church" necessarily, but are a visible witness of an inward movement of the flow of the Holy Spirit in everyone's life.

In some ways, the only thing that makes me distinctive is that I chaplain full-time and in a variety of contexts. This week, for instance, as Community Chaplains, we are taking an assembly at a primary school in Great Western Park, supporting seven of the uniformed youth organisations that happen in GWP, informally mentoring students and staff at a local secondary school, helping to plan for the GWP Residents' Association Activity, or mission, Week, visiting a care home for the elderly, helping out at with a residential group of younger adults who have particular mental or physical needs, speaking here, sharing stories with those within — and without — the church, visiting a lady who's fairly housebound, exploring what chaplaincy might mean in contemporary culture on a larger scale, and maintaining a mobile chaplaincy campervan 'Hope' who's currently parked in the car park!

None of this is possible without the support of so many of you. We are frequently amazed when we hear about how many people are praying for us. We are encouraged by the questions and positive comments we receive throughout the week and on a Sunday morning. We are bolstered by the volunteer chaplains (and chaplains' chaplains) who form part of our team and we are excited when we hear about how many people are sharing our stories.

At this time, we particularly ask for your help and support as we seek to expand our growing team. In particular, we'd be grateful if you could consider coming alongside us in Didcot or Wantage as a volunteer chaplain, anything from a couple of hours once a fortnight would be most welcome. And we'd love it if you could help spread the news that we are actively seeking a 3rd paid chaplain to join our team. You don't have to do what I've been doing — in fact, we actively welcome change and diversifying our ways of engaging with the world around us. If you have a heart for a particular area or people group, and want to more formally connect with them, please get in touch.

Libby

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