A STUDY of the part played by chaplaincy in modern Britain has
estimated that there are currently 15,000 chaplains in the UK from
every religious tradition, serving in casinos and shopping centres
as well as the more traditional locations such as hospitals,
prisons, and the military.
The results of the study have been published in a report, A
Very Modern Ministry: Chaplaincy in the UK, by Ben Ryan, for
the religion and society think tank Theos.
It says that, besides providing pastoral care and support,
em-ploying organisations increasingly seek to encourage chaplains
to provide a challenging "prophetic voice". It cites chaplains to
Canary Wharf who explore ethics in finance; a sport chaplain who
challenged his club's association with a shirt sponsor; and another
chaplain who fought for low-paid staff who had not received their
wages after a club had gone into administration.
"This may seem like a role which shouldn't appeal to an
organisation - tantamount to troublemaking," the report says. "Yet
stakeholders time and again subverted that expectation, and praised
the chaplain for being able to speak up and keep an organisation
"An NHS manager, for example, reported that 'Sometimes you need
someone who isn't too much in the system to tell it like it is, and
tell everyone what we're doing isn't the way to do things. It isn't
always popular at the time, but you look back and you see why they
The report looks in depth at chaplaincy in Luton, Bedfordshire,
where, it says, there are 169 chaplains working in a variety of
sectors. "This a remarkably high number for a relatively small
urban area," the report says, pointing out that it equates to one
chaplain for every 1200 people in the local population.
Of that number, just 14 reported that they were full-time
chaplains, although the report indicates that half of those were
employed by a charity, Luton Churches Education Trust, to serve
local schools, "which means that, although they are full-time
chaplains in practice, they are not full-time in any single school,
but rather work as part-time chaplains in several schools each".
When it came to funding, the report found that "only one chaplain
receives a salary that is paid for entirely by the organisation for
which they worked." That was a university chaplain. The report also
found that "some other organisations contributed a portion of the
salary - notably, the airport.
"Far more are paid by religious-belief bodies, local churches,
or charitable grants. Some chaplains are not paid a salary, but do
receive some financial reimbursement such as expenses or
It found that unpaid part-time chaplains often put in
significant amounts of work, and referred to a fire-service
chaplain who had recorded that, in a three-month period, "she put
in 168 hours of work, and 1887 miles of driving to chaplaincy work,
including two funerals, bereavement support, a baptism,
policy-and-procedure meetings, and 44 separate visits to fire
stations across the county."
"The proverbial man in the street seems as - perhaps more -
likely to meet a chaplain in his daily life today as he is to meet
any other formal religious figure," Mr Ryan said. "The model is
shifting from 'church' to 'chapel'."
He said that chaplaincy was a "powerful potential resource" for
organisations and faith groups, and called for more research into
the impact that chaplains are having on organisations and the
people they minister to. "For faith and belief groups in
particular," he said, "given the value of chaplaincy to them in the
modern public square, there needs to be a greater priority given to
strengthening and improving the impact of chaplains."
too long the Cinderella of ministry, it's time for chaplaincy to
take centre stage' - Comment
chaplains are in, but not of, the military' - Letters