There are over 300 chaplains in Somerset; serving in health care, education, industry, leisure and beyond. During the Covid pandemic they have continued to serve people in all these areas and more. Chaplaincy Development Adviser, Mike Haslam has captured some of their stories in a booklet ‘Chaplaincy & Coronavirus, Discerning Impact’.
Mike says: ‘It has been amazing to listen to the experiences of chaplains as they have served their communities through the extraordinarily challenging times of coronavirus. Chaplains continue to re-imagine their roles and chaplaincy continues to grow. It was an even greater privilege to hear feedback from people who are served by chaplaincy. Nurses and doctors, teachers, students and CEOs all spoke of how chaplains support and inspire them and their communities. One Hospital Consultant said: “The Chaplaincy gift of listening and pastoral care is as essential as sterile conditions in an operating theatre.”
Introducing the booklet, Bishop Ruth says, “Most chaplains have no churches, or chapels, to either open or close. At the start of the lockdown the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote to us that ministry would be more defined by pastoral care and prayer and less by Sunday worship. That sums up chaplaincy.
“Throughout this time when church buildings are closed, chaplains, like ministers in parishes, have continued to serve. They have been there with the sick and bereaved, the hungry and lonely, they have prayed and cared and lived and shared faith. This has been most obvious through the amazing work of health care chaplains. However, chaplains in education, the police and industry have also learned how to serve vulnerable and dispersed communities and done so with enormous skill and grace.
One nurse, quoted in the article, says, “I wouldn’t have got through the last few months without the chaplains. The support they gave the staff and the patients through a very difficult time was amazing.”