Bishops' letter: What an opportunity

28th September 2023

Bishop Ruth

This week I was on a Zoom chat with some of our chaplains around the diocese. I meet regularly with eight or nine of them alongside our Chaplaincy Development Adviser Mike Haslam. These are only a few of the more than 300 chaplains we have, of all ages, lay and ordained, across Bath and Wells. 

There are more and more enquiries about chaplaincy from a wide range of communities. They are seeking a chaplain to offer pastoral care and well-being support for an increasingly stressed and anxious workforce. One particular enquiry caught my attention this week.

A local Further Education college has been saying that their first concern is for a chaplain to address the spiritual exploration of its students. What an opportunity! We know from the Talking Jesus research (2015 and 2022) that most practising Christians come to faith before the age of 18. Several of our schools, including primary, have pupil chaplains now and this is a great way of recognising that you are never too young to start in living and telling the story of Jesus!

As a child I was always struck by the Old Testament story of the unnamed little slave girl who served Naaman’s wife, (2 Kings chapter 5). Taken from her home to another country, and placed in an alien environment, she was the one who introduced Naaman to Elisha the prophet in Israel. As a result, Naaman overcame his scepticism, was healed from his leprosy, and discovered a faith in God.

Chaplaincy opens up a diversity of contexts in which we can share our faith and I invite you to pray for those here in Bath and Wells who are treading new ground to open up the way for others to discover the love of Jesus for themselves. However, each one of us has our own possibility of being a chaplain, coming alongside another in our daily life and community. Sometimes our timidity prevents us from speaking up about faith and our personal spiritual journey other than in church where we are known and on familiar territory. How about taking some time to reflect on where you might live and tell the story of Jesus outside of church, in your everyday context? Is there someone, like a Naaman’s wife who is desperate to find help and hope for a loved one but doesn’t know where to find it? Maybe you are the only one who could tell them!

With love and thankfulness for you all!


This letter featured in the October 2023 edition of the Manna mailing.

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