Faith in Work

What has been the experience of Christians in the Workplace? 

Clive Morton, CWC Vice-Chair for Peterborough, has been working with Paul Ballard (former trustee) and Rev John Rackley, past president of the Baptist Union, on a project to discover the faith experience of Christians in the workplace, and offers this summary of methodology and findings of the project for the interest of readers of the CWC newsletter.

Paul Ballard’s article with much fuller detail can be found at

Abstract: A group of sixteen people from a wide range of professions responded to the invitation to reflect, in writing or by interview, on their faith journey, with stress on how their faith was related to and shaped by their work life.

This article by Paul Ballard attempts to draw out, under a number of headings, ‘Roots and Shoots’, ‘the Cantus Firmus’, ‘Spirituality’, features of their experience. Some attention is given to how their faith/work self-understanding relates to their experience of ‘church’. The final paragraphs suggest that this is a small but key contribution to the contemporary interest in ‘ordinary theology’ and workplace chaplaincy.

This small and loosely structured project stemmed from a conversation between two of the authors, longstanding friends, on the terrace of an Italian holiday apartment. Thinking back over the years, the question arose as to how one, an engineer and manager and academic, with experience in industry and public service, had sustained his Christian faith. This led them to wondering, especially in a strongly secular society, where religion is marginalised, what it means to be a person of faith as a professional (taking that in the widest sense) today. On returning home, these thoughts were shared with the third author. It was agreed to see whether there was any mileage in enquiring more closely into the question. Initial conversations with a number of acquaintances found an enthusiastic response, suggesting that this was indeed a matter both of personal interest to those contacted and of possible theological and pastoral importance.
Rather than setting up a formal structured project, it was decided, within the resources available, to follow a more informal approach. Individuals with the relevant kinds of experience were asked to reflect on their experience in writing.

A short introduction to the project was prepared, the key sentences of which were:

“The place of religion in western society has been highly contested. …. Yet many, not least in professional circles, have a strong Christian faith which must have, in some way, have been integrated into their engagement in the public sphere through work and wider social activities. However, this has been a neglected theme ….. and little is known about how faith has been worked out in this context. Yet surely it is of interest, not only for a greater understanding of how religion works out in the contemporary context, but also pastorally and practically in the community of faith. We are asking you to describe your faith journey in relation to your life story and how your religious life has enhanced and/or been challenged by experience.”

The respondent was asked to react to the following questions:

  • Who and what shaped your values and faith?
  • What have been the significant episodes in your work life?
  • What differences have your faith/values/spirituality made to you and how, in the public sphere, you have approached the work roles you have undertaken?
  • What difference has the workplace etc. made to your faith/values/spirituality and any religious allegiance you may have?

A list of possible contacts across a range of professional groups and similar activities was drawn up. While there was an attempt to have as representative spread as possible, the approach was through personal contact, whether direct or indirectly, and therefore reflects the immediate circle of the authors, despite efforts to counteract that. It was clear that this was never going to be a calibrated sample, only a ‘straw vote’; but one that might be expanded on in the future. Some two dozen persons were approached. Thirteen responded positively, which with the three authors, made sixteen in all, covering a surprisingly wide spectrum of professional interest, even if there are some obvious omissions.

Concluding reflection
This small exercise has produced a wealth of personal story. Setting then side by side, it has been possible to see how they relate to the experience of the wider faith community. Each, too, makes their own peculiar contribution as to how the faith is worked out in both the contemporary Church and the economic and professional spheres.

The first thing, therefore, to say is that it has been a privilege to be able to hear these particular voices. Each such story is of importance, though too often they are lost in the corporate reality of being church, except, possibly, when the subject of personal pastoral concern. But the corporate life of the Body of Christ does not simply stand over/against the individuals involved but is made up and made real in the lives of countless individuals. This has been the concern of the so-called ordinary theology; to articulate and recognise the reality and importance of the everyday beliefs and experience of ‘ordinary’ Christians. Ordinary theology has been defined as ‘the theological beliefs and processes of believing that finds expression in the God-talk of those believers who have received no scholarly theological education’. (Ref. Astley and Francis) That is, it attempts to articulate the active faith and practices of the believer (and this surely includes the theologically articulate) as they respond to the reality of the revelation and presence of God in and through life’s journey in the fellowship of the Church. There is a dialectic here; the faith of the Church as received, usually through the official media, and the affirmed faith reality of the believer. There is a constant dialogue, at every level, shaping and exploring what the faith means and where the Spirit is taking us today, both at the Church’s structural level and for each individual or group. The consensus fidelium is very much part of the theological arena. The gospel has to be articulated afresh in every time and place.

The primary concern of the project was to look at the relation between faith and one’s profession. It would seem, however, that this concern is on the margins of the Church’s perspective, though it has been very much at the heart of post-war Industrial Mission (now referred to as Workplace Chaplaincy), especially in the era of rapid de-industrialisation in the eighties. (see: Brown and Ballard; Ballard; Torrey) Interestingly only two of the respondents referred to chaplaincy work as influential in their experience and there were hints that church life and daily work are too often separated experientially.

If, however, work can be defined as our formal contribution to and support by society then it is at the heart of our self-understanding. Indeed, we are often defined by ‘what we do’! It is, therefore, an essential dimension of the Church’s ministry, to be aware of and supportive of those embedded in the pressures and opportunities of work, not least professional work, and to listen in order to discern the Spirit’s working in society.

In fact there is an upsurge of interest in chaplaincy work, mainly as a means of extending the pastoral ministry, which should be taken seriously by the wider Church; and for those so engaged to be able to articulate something of the riches and challenges of serving Christ in the economic structures of society.

So, what we have here is the contribution of a small group of professional people, the majority of whom have for the first time been asked to tell of their journey of faith. They deserve to be heard and to be drawn into the wider theological debate.

Paul Ballard, Clive Morton and John Rackley.

Thanks to the pandemic women are being adversely affected in many areas of their lives

Jane Thompson looks at the different evidence emerging and how it affects the workforce and asks is the essential nature of caregiving now being realised?

You may have read various articles recently documenting how women are being hit hardest during Covid-19. Being female, a working Mother and one who has been juggling homeschooling since February this is a topic close to my heart as I see the fallout affecting myself and friends.

Due to the complex mix of lower paid work, being more exposed to the risk of infection, reduced working hours due to homeschooling; and even an increased risk of furlough or redundancy enforced by their employer (Mothers 47% more likely to lose their job compared to Fathers) women are indeed shouldering the brunt of a rapidly changing work and caregiving environment and frequently these collide.

The Guardian led with how the pandemic is destroying women’s rights citing how women are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout and taking on a greater share of domestic work and childcare – while visits to the Refuge website are up 950%…they state – Is this the biggest ever leap backward for women?

Clearly there are many issues going on, and no two situations are the same; but when you think of the caregiving in our country the vast majority of care is carried out by women – be that paid carers roles in our hospitals and care systems, or ‘invisible’ care not recognised by the economy in the form of caring for children, elderly or sick relatives. The unpaid care offered by many week in week out is a huge benefit that keeps the wheels of the economy working – so are we now seeing the result of this situation with claims from the Government that we ‘all need to get back to work’ whilst parents (especially Mothers) around the country cry back ‘we will once the Children go back to school!’.

In the journal Nature they reflected that previous pandemics had the same results commenting that Governments need to ‘gather data and target policy to keep all citizens equally safe, sheltered and secure’. So what has the current pandemic taught us? I think it has shown families how they need to work differently to be as productive and supportive of each other as much as possible – women in particular need support to close the gap on work they can achieve whilst homeschooling or from other caring responsibilities.

I think it has shown that more value needs to be placed at the heart of caregiving in the UK – all types of care is essential to our families, friends and communities and it protects the NHS and wider services from becoming overburdened. Unpaid care is the unseen pillar of many communities and indeed organisations (through volunteering).

I also hope support for all Mothers in particular will be seen as a greater priority; by their own partners and families but also in the wider community. I speak from personal experience when I say the mental health of many of my female friends is at breaking point right now thanks to complex balance of looking after children and working.

Let’s hope these lessons will be learnt.

Survey results from Workplace Chaplains and Supporters

Thank you to all our workplace chaplains, supporters and religious leaders who gave up two minutes of their time to give us feedback on our service.

Since our launch event in early 2018 we were reassured to see Chaplains in particular still wanted the range of support we are offering (or planning to offer) including regular chances to meet and support each other, access to training and CPD and financial assistance to attend events and training. Since the survey was circulated we have launched our bursary scheme and we are delighted that chaplains are already making use of this offer.

We will now look to see what training and courses we can offer online; and give chaplains more opportunities to discuss their experiences with each other.

Supporters and Chaplains alike felt promoting the concept of workplace chaplaincy to be very important and this is an area we’re striving to build on constantly. We’ve recently moved our social media emphasis to our Facebook page (to reach Chaplains and the general public) and now to LinkedIn to build relations with organisations and HR professionals.

Summary of results showed:


  • 36% respondents were workplace chaplains
  • 33% respondents were supporters
  • 15% respondents were religious leaders or institutions
  • Most workplace chaplains were from Cambridge area (43%) followed by Peterborough area (33%) and Huntingdon (19%) with others scattered around the county
  • 43% or respondents are supported by a religious institution with 14% supported by an employer. 24% do not have support.
  • Half of workplace chaplains in our county are working at full capacity (50%), with 45% having some capacity for further work

What Chaplains want

  • Key issues workplace chaplains want to see CWC actively doing and offering were promoting workplace chaplaincy, support and training opportunities, networking with other chaplains and CPD and non-managerial supervision


  • Supporters and chaplains alike want to see the value of workplace chaplaincy to be promoted by CWC
  • 100% of respondents were happy in the way CWC communicated with them
  • Preferences for the future were communications by email, newsletter and Facebook

Bursary Fund for Workplace Chaplains

CWC are pleased to announce a new Bursary Fund for workplace
chaplains to apply to.

Purpose of the Fund:
The purpose of the Fund is to provide financial support to chaplains who are seeking to attend a conference, training course or retreat that will enhance their ministry as workplace chaplains.

Any chaplain who is a recognised chaplain on the Cambridgeshire Workplace Chaplaincy (CWC) database and who is providing chaplaincy services in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area.

Funding details:
The CWC Bursary Fund will provide grants of up to £500 for each successful application. Full terms and conditions are available from Jane Thompson (see below).

Application process:
Applicants should complete the application form available from Jane Thompson, our administrator, at and return it to the same email address.

Each application will be considered by the CWC Trustees and a decision will be
communicated to all applicants within one month of each closing date.

The closing dates for applications in 2020 are as follows:
31 August 2020
30 November 2020
Dates for 2021 will be publicised in future newsletters.

CWC Listening service for those needing support


Listening service – email

Cambridgeshire Workplace Chaplaincy has recognised a need for a listening service – to offer comfort and support for those who are finding life difficult at the moment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The day to day adjustments that many are having to make at the moment due to a stressful job or juggling working from home; coupled with responsibilities at home are very stressful for many of us.

Maintaining and enhancing the emotional and mental health of everyone is critical during these turbulent times. We urge all to not be too proud or self-reliant and to seek support and help whenever you need it. It’s not an admission of weakness.

  • The Listening service is a way to get support from our team of volunteers
  • Email your details to
  • Your details are passed to one of our volunteers who are either multifaith chaplains or trained counsellors and they will get in touch (phone or email – up to you)
  • Our multifaith chaplains are a diverse group who are happy to provide emotional support regardless of whether you have any spiritual or religious beliefs – their aim is to listen and comfort

CWC holds Celebration of Chaplaincy service at Ely Cathedral

Workplace chaplains and supporters of chaplaincy from across Cambridgeshire gathered at Ely Cathedral recently for a special service celebrating the role of workplace chaplains, which included a special attendance by Mrs Sue Freestone DL.

The Bishop of Huntingdon (Bishop Dagmar Winter) led the service which included prayers, thanksgiving and hymns chosen to reflect the diverse work chaplains offer via a listening ear in the workplace.

Revd Dr Jenny Gage, a Trustee of CWC and Minister for Social Justice at Ely Cathedral, gave Prayers of Praise:

Almighty God,

sustainer of daily life and work, and provider of all our needs:

open our hearts to your creative power

so that we might know your will,

praise your name,

and share your vision for the creation of your kingdom.

In the name of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.


Following hymns and prayers; Professor Clive Morton Vice Chair of CWC gave a short report on the variety of workplace chaplains operating across the County. The service was then concluded with a sermon and blessing from the Bishop of Huntingdon, focusing on the power of community within the workplace.

After the service all guests were invited to join together for refreshments within the Cathedral where they had chance to speak to the Bishop and Trustees of CWC. A Story book of Chaplaincy experiences across Cambridgeshire was shared with all: Download a copy here: Chaplaincy_story_book_visual_only