THE Archbishops of Canterbury and York signed the Armed Forces
Covenant last week at Lambeth Palace, in front of the Defence
Minister, Anna Soubry, and clergy and senior military
The signing of the covenant was agreed by the General Synod last
July, in York. It sets out obligations in the way serving and
former military personnel are treated and cared for in
Archbishop Welby said that the covenant was of "huge
importance", and that the changing nature of the military, with an
increased reliance on reservists, meant that the Churches had to
reconsider how they provided pastoral care.
"There are chaplains in every part of the armed services, and
that is part of the heritage of the Church that we value hugely,"
he said, saying that the Churches "relish the privilege to be
involved in ministering with the people in the armed services. That
is absolutely crucial to our understanding of the role of the
But he said that the growing emphasis on reservists was "going
to need a huge change in the way the armed services think about
themselves. . . We value the armed services. We appreciate what
they do - the very difficult things they do, very often, that we
don't know about, and don't see; but for which we pray, and for
which we are deeply grateful that we have chaplains involved."
The signing of the covenant was welcomed by the senior chaplains
to the different branches of the armed forces. The Chaplain-General
of the Army, the Revd Dr David Coulter, a Church of Scotland
minister, said that the covenant was "hugely significant", and that
he hoped other Churches would follow the Church of England's
The Chaplain-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force, the Ven. Jonathan
Chaffey, said that the signing of the covenant would "reinforce
what is already happening right around the country, where the
parishes are supporting the dispersed service communities; whether
it is through church schools and service children, whether it is
the support of veterans in various drop-in centres, or whether it
is just in congregations."
The Chaplain of the Fleet and Archdeacon for the Royal Navy, the
Ven. Ian Wheatley, said: "Chaplaincy won't change, but I would like
to see the barrier between the Church and the military [become] a
little more porous; and I would like to see the men and women of
the armed services, and their children, who go to church week by
week, or who perhaps live by churches week by week, find it easier
to go church and to access the church community; and, perhaps, for
the church community to go out and find them."
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, said that he was concerned
for military personnel who came back from deployments. "Some of
them are really traumatised," he said. "When you are in the Army
and serving, or in the Air Force, or with the sailors, you are
almost a hero. . . But when you are not in your uniform, what
happens to you? You are almost a non-person."
Clergy should consider signing up to join Britain's
reserve chaplains on the front line, Anna Soubry said.
She said that there was no conflict between military service and
a priestly function: "The two are not mutually exclusive in my view
Part of the covenant is a commitment to supporting personnel who
volunteer for the reserve forces. And Ms Soubry hopes that members
of the clergy will sign up. "I think increasingly, hopefully, we
will see people who will serve in both capacities - as a vicar, and
as a reservist - because they have masses to offer. They are people
hugely skilled, and we need them."
She said that some reservists bring their day jobs to their
reservist occupation; but others see it as an opportunity to have
"two completely separate occupations and skill sets. . .
"The only reason we engage in war and in battle is because we
want peace. I know that might sound a bit of a perverse thing, but
it is true.
"If you look at all the conflicts we have been involved in -
certainly in modern times - we are not just doing it because we
want to go out there and kill people; we engage in conflict because
we have a cause which we believe is just. Unfortunately, in order
to continue with that cause, it may be that lives are lost; but our
ultimate goal is to bring peace. . . to do the right thing."
Chaplains needed, says Army
A NEW recruitment campaign run by the Army Reserve (previously
the Territorial Army) is encouraging clergy to sign up for
part-time chaplaincy positions with the British Army.
The chaplains would serve as part of the Royal Army Chaplaincy
Department, providing spiritual support for units of about 700
soldiers and their families, and would travel with them when they
were on deployment.
A survey conducted by OnePoll suggests that that more than six
in ten people are not aware that the Army Reserve offers part-time
chaplaincy roles. "This research tells us that people in the UK
feel their jobs are lacking challenge, excitement, and the
opportunity to travel," the director-general of the Army's
recruiting and training division, Major General Chris Tickell,
said. "Very few realise the full range of part-time job
opportunities available to them as a volunteer with the Army
Reserve, such as chaplaincy roles in the RACD.
"The Army Reserve offers practising professionals the
opportunity for travel and adventure, as well as world-class
training. . . all in their spare time, at a minimum commitment of
19 days, and whilst getting paid."
The Army is looking for people aged between 18 and 50 to
volunteer for the "unique opportunities". Part-time chaplains are
given the opportunity to study towards a Master of Theology degree
in Chaplaincy Studies with Cardiff University.
"I've travelled to countries and seen a side of the world I'd
never have experienced otherwise," the Revd Tim Flowers, a
Methodist minister in the Tamworth and Lichfield Circuit and padre
for the 4th Battalion of the Mercian Regiment, said. "Chaplaincy
courses can help with understanding other . . . denominations."