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University chaplains

21 September 2012

EDUCATION chaplaincy was something "very worth while", the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, told the GB, as he moved a motion that urged "ways of supporting, developing, and enhancing chaplaincy provision to institutions of tertiary, further, and higher education".

The GB heard presentations from a number of education chaplains.

Violence against women was one of the issues dealt with by the chaplaincy team at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Paul Fitzpatrick said: "The out-of-hours and emergency provision on campus is run through the chaplaincy. That means we get to see this first. . . There is nothing 'fluffy' about what we do. The intensity of university life now doesn't allow for that. The mental-health issues this year alone are 300 per cent higher than last year."

Canon Stuart Bell (St Davids) explained that he had been asked by the diocese to be the Anglican chaplain, but was not recognised by the university, which "considers itself to be a secular institution".

Rebecca Stevens (Co-opted lay persons under 30) said that chaplaincy was important in challenging vocations.

The Bishop of Monmouth, the Rt Revd Dominic Walker OGS, explained how he had persuaded the University of Newport to appoint a chaplain. "He hit the ground running. On the first day of term there was a suicide, and on the second day of term there was a rape on campus. His contribution to the community was well appreciated."

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said: "It would be a disaster if we cut out support for chap- laincy in universities and tertiary colleges."

The Revd Janice Brown (Bangor) said that she had listened to the debate with a tear in her eye, having just completed an eight-year stint as an education chaplain. It had been "quite a hostile environment", but, in the end, "they realised just how valuable the chaplaincy was."

Miriam Lowe (Co-opted, lay persons under 30) said: "Can we please not underestimate just how messed up this generation is; and not forget that only Jesus can make them whole."

The motion was passed unanimously, with no abstentions.

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