Gwen Kearley is a junior school chaplain at St Michael’s, Twerton. She worships at North Bradley Baptist Church, Trowbridge. Gwen explains how God has gifted her an opportunity to share Christian hope with children, parents and teachers.
My chaplaincy role is about showing God’s love through my actions and the things that I do. My prayer is that through the way I act, as well as the things I say, all people connected to the school will see me as an approachable Christian presence and turn to God in their time of need.
When I first took up the role, some parents hadn’t realised their children attend a Church School, and found the idea of a chaplain a bit strange, especially when their children returned home talking about Jesus.
I have spent the last couple of years building up relationships and I try to have an open door to anybody, at any time. At first, staff thought I was there only for the children, but increasingly they share things of their own lives. It’s great to be able to support the teachers in this way and share something of my own Christian faith. I see every day God at work in the school and my role is to help children, parents and teachers see that for themselves.
The children know me by my first name and see me as a friend more than a teacher-figure. We have a prayer space in the school and collective worship has become much more focused on Jesus, Christian values and sharing biblical stories.
I also run a Bible Is Fun club for children with a connection to the church. The children enjoy discussing different issues and we each share our thoughts and look together at what the bible says. I am often humbled by the way in which the children approach some of life’s big questions with such honesty; you can see that God’s at work.
Being a school chaplain isn’t without its challenges, but it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done.