03 May 2019

Report highlights value of university chaplaincy

A new report has highlighted the positive impact that chaplains are having on students and staff in higher education across the UK.

The Methodist Church currently has around 100 university chaplains placed in higher education establishments, both in paid and voluntary positions. The report, Chaplains on Campus: Understanding Chaplaincy in UK Universities, written by Coventry, Durham and Canterbury Christ Church Universities and the Church of England, reported improvements in the atmosphere and the sense of community at those establishments with a chaplain.

Chaplains show God’s love through pastoral support, offering a listening ear outside of the official chain of command and outside of the church. Methodist chaplains operate in many organisations including hospitals, prisons, shopping centres, universities and even nightclubs.  Methodist chaplains represent Christian values in the wider community and support people of all faiths and beliefs and those of none.

For over half a century, Leeds Methodists have supported students through chaplaincy. The Revd Melvyn Kelly, who previously worked in the interfaith Chaplaincy at Edge Hill University, is now the lead chaplain at Leeds Beckett University.  He said: “As a chaplain, I'm always ready for a chat – about anything!  I offer pastoral care to students and staff and encourage them to explore faith, spirituality and worship. Chaplaincy offers a perfect setting for creating community, encouraging good relationships between people of different faith traditions or none and exploring together values of unity, peace, justice and love.”

The report interviewed 374 chaplains, and covered chaplaincy work, chaplains relationship with the wider university and the impact and effectiveness of university chaplaincy.

One of the report’s co-authors, Dr Kristin Aune, Professor of Sociology of Religion at Coventry University, commented: “Our research has found that chaplains are doing a great job supporting students pastorally and responding to an increasingly multi-faith environment. One of our 15 recommendations is that universities increase their funding for chaplaincy to continue this vital service.”

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