From Hilary Topp
Sir, - The growth in chaplaincy provision (Comment, 13
March) is, of course, to be welcomed, and offers a way for the
Church to be present in the public square in our diverse modern
I am grateful that the Theos report highlights the valuable
ministry of chaplains, and hope that this challenges the common
misconception that university chaplains are the equivalent of youth
workers for students and young adults, when, in fact, their
ministry is mainly pastoral, serving the whole university
This clearer understanding of chaplaincy points us to the
exciting missional opportunities of student work, providing
programmes for discipleship and outreach - which is significantly
underfunded. My hope is that reading the Theos report will
encourage the Churches, both locally and nationally, to invest also
in student work and outreach, alongside chaplaincy provision.
Student Christian Movement
504F The Big Peg
120 Vyse Street, Jewellery Quarter
Birmingham B18 6NE
From Canon David Wheaton
Sir, - Your recent article on chaplaincy work brings to mind an
incident in 1971, when I was chaplain to the Brompton Hospital.
A new children's ward had just been opened. Designed by the
paediatricians, it was state-of-the-art. Sister's desk was at the
centre, with beds all around, and, for ease of access to and from
the theatre, the ICU section was sectioned off just inside the main
and only door, with plate glass from floor to ceiling, so that
everyone could see what was going on there.
This was fine in theory, but it meant that any child being taken
into the ward would be greeted by the sight of a child patient
possibly with wires and tubes attached to all parts of his or her
I was called in one Sunday afternoon, at the request of parents
who asked for their baby to be baptised before she went for heart
surgery. On my way up in the lift, I was met by the surgeon, who
was on his way to breaking the news to another couple of parents
that their baby had just died during his operation.
Because of the configuration of the ward, the two sets of
parents were sitting side by side; so, with no space for privacy,
he would have to break the sad news to one set, before asking the
others for their baby for the same operation.
The next day, I went to see the ward sister, who agreed that the
system was just not viable, and that something must be done. "We
cannot appear to be criticising the doctors and surgeons whose pipe
dream this is," she said. "There is only one person in this
hospital who can do anything about it, and that is you."
Consequently, I submitted a report to the board of governors,
and in due course a different ward was created.
17 Riverside Road
Dorset DT11 7ES
From Canon Randell Moll
Sir, - Your articles about chaplaincy are very welcome. You are
right in suggesting that this ministry - especially in industrial
and commercial workplaces - has not always been supported. Nor has
the mission imperative for this calling always been understood,
even by Christians who are key figures in their workplaces.
An industrialist was asked by a bishop to chair a session on
Christianity and work. This captain of industry is a staunch church
member, out on his bike delivering the parish magazine at weekends.
But his answer was "Sorry - I can't afford to take my faith into my
Workplace chaplains are sometimes asked: "So you are taking God
into work?" to which they are likely to answer: "No, I am going
there to see what he is doing." It is extraordinary that work still
seems to be thought about, by some, as little to do with God, and
is rarely talked about in church.
And yet the General Synod, no less, was moved, not so long ago,
to pass unanimously a resolution declaring that work is, in
essence, a spiritual activity, and urging dioceses to respond
We need to recover an accessible theology of work and the
economy. Then, perhaps, not only would individual churchgoers be
able to understand their own work more deeply in the light of their
faith, but the resolute, pioneering, and admirable mission and
ministry of workplace chaplains, in a great variety of workplaces,
would receive the recognition it deserves, and be adequately
supported by many churches, not just by its own Industrial Mission
Association. Vast resources are not needed: a little goes a long
way in this work.
For more information, see www.industrialmissionassociation.org.uk.
Penn Cottage, Green End Granborough
Buckingham MK18 3NT