Training route into chaplaincies of many kinds
Updated: Mar 2
I spent an interesting hour yesterday evening online (writes Debbie Thrower) hearing about Waverley Abbey College’s Contemporary Chaplaincy Course. At one point more than 50 people were on the Zoom call – from the UK and abroad – listening to Dr Micha Jazz and Dr Keith Foster describe their vision for a movement of ‘literally thousands’ of chaplains – in settings that might have been unthinkable for chaplains a few years ago.
With experience as a chaplain in industry, Keith Foster is himself (in addition to his ‘day job’ in further education) a voluntary chaplain to his local running club. He spoke of chaplains in other sports clubs, in addiction centres, in airports and on the railways.
There are many regulated chaplaincies such as in the Armed Forces, prisons, schools and hospitals for example, but increasingly chaplains are being recruited to less formal contexts such as bus stations, shopping malls, theatres, markets and red-light districts. The list is almost endless.
Citing the success of Anna Chaplains for older people, who become familiar faces in care homes, retirement complexes and the wider community, Dr Foster gave examples of several Waverley Abbey College graduates who have gone on to become Anna Chaplains, at least one of whom is in a paid post.
Waverley Abbey College offers two options for students wanting to follow the one-year online course. You can either join a cohort of say ten to fourteen people tutor-led, all doing the same learning at a fixed time of the week, or opt for a ‘self-paced model’ accessing video tutorials on the same six modules at a time of your own choosing and at your own speed.
In addition to the two hours of teaching a week, it’s estimated students will do about 90 minutes to two hours of reading a week, plus written (or video-recorded) assignments following each module. Then there’s a practical, supervised, placement (or series of shorter placements).
Waverley was where the first ever Anna Chaplaincy Network Gathering took place back in 2015. It is exciting to see the energy being put into training these new chaplains on an impressive scale. There are three intakes a year and judging by the interest on the Zoom call many people are considering a call to this type of ministry whether salaried or voluntary.
Waverley Abbey College’s Contemporary Chaplaincy Course has this overarching objective:
‘To meet the ever-changing and increasing need to identify, train and mobilise thousand of chaplains who will provide Christ’s comfort and hope across the full range of chaplaincies.’