By Canon Professor Clive Morton, Vice Chair (Peterborough) CWC
As I write this we have had an announcement from the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, proclaiming the end of Covid restrictions with an aspiration of ‘returning to normal’. A time for celebration, wariness or reflection? Probably all three!
CWC trustees have been discussing how we can capture experience and learn from the last two years of pandemic and how the pandemic has affected the work of chaplains. It is clear that all chaplains have had to adapt to new ways of working – often with workplaces shut and many employees working from home, imaginative ideas and practices have emerged to enable chaplains to keep in touch with colleagues and employees. CWC mounted a help line for chaplains and employees to keep in touch, and in keeping with most of the solutions devised, communications went digital. Who had ever heard of Zoom or Teams before 2020?
CWC is not the only chaplaincy organisation that is reflecting on the last two years’ experience. In January more than 120 people involved in chaplaincy gathered from across Baptist Together for an online chaplains’ day. Every chaplaincy sector was represented, from health, prisons and higher education, to the military, police, sport and other workplace settings.
In the first session, nine chaplains shared two-minute stories of what and how they had seen God at work in the recent season. Time was then spent in small groups in breakout rooms, listening to the stories of chaplaincy colleagues and praying for each other. In an evening session, Rosa Hunt, co-principal of Cardiff Baptist College, gave a keynote address on “Desire and disorientation”. This explored those moments when the innate spirituality of people becomes apparent even in what might otherwise be considered secular space.
This news of chaplains getting together to reflect on the last two years is encouraging, because your trustees have been planning an online symposium for chaplains in the Eastern Region for May 2022 with Rev Dr Andrew Todd (Senior Lecturer and Director of the Professional Doctorate in Practical Theology Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge Theological Federation) to address two important questions for chaplaincy:
- What has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on chaplaincy in the region?
- How has chaplaincy adapted in the light of the pandemic, including in innovative ways?
This will be an opportunity for all those involved in chaplaincy in the region to meet together, to share insights arising from the last two years, support each other, and to learn how these insights might shape the future development of chaplaincy.
So, please watch this space – we will be publishing more details on the symposium as planning develops, and if you have ideas on the formation of this day and topics to be covered, please do say!
Canon Professor Clive Morton, Vice Chair (Peterborough) CWC