A kaleidoscope of chaplains

10 March 2021


kaleidoscope-julie-coatesThe Revd Julie Coates is a presbyter who spends a third of her time as chaplain to Rosehill Methodist Community Primary School in Ashton- under-Lyne.

“I love being a part of a school community and working alongside volunteers from the circuit who support this work,” she said.

“I have lots of conversations in the corridors with the children, who are often desperate to inform me about parties, friends, grazed knees or the death of their rabbit.

“There are also opportunities to chat to family members as they collect their children and on parents’ evenings, and with staff at break times or after the pupils have left for the day.”


kaleidoscope-andy-jerrardAndy Jerrard’s days are spent doing anything from discussing bovine tuberculosis to directing traffic or attending farm sales.

He’s the Plymouth and Exeter District’s Rural Support Worker and coordinates the livestock market chaplaincy.

“I’ve filled bulk tanks with milk, sales ledgers with orders, bags with grass seed and bottles with water” he said. “Now I’m getting mugs filled with tea. This may make me multitalented!”

The chaplaincy covers a range of markets from the monthly livestock sales at Exeter to centres such as Hatherleigh, Tavistock, South Molton and Newton Abbot.


kaleidoscope-marc-morgan-2nd-attemptThe Revd Marc Morgan, Area Minister of Ardal Glannau Maelor (Synod Cymru), has been involved with football for many years.

He’s a supporter of Newtown AFC, who play in the Welsh Premier League. “In 2009 they saw the need for a chaplain and I was asked,” he said. “I’ve become someone that all at the club can turn to.

“I have no uniform, apart from a big red coat with the word chaplain written under the club badge. I do not preach but am there, standing side by side: both at times of joy, and times of sadness.”


kaleidoscope-sarah-leesonSarah Leeson is a volunteer retail chaplain in the Redditch Town Centre Chaplaincy Team, where she regularly visits shops and stalls in the Kingfisher Centre, a large indoor shopping mall.

Sarah is from Emmanuel Church, a URC/Methodist fellowship in the Birmingham District.

“Our aim is to be an intentional Christian presence in the market place, building relationships with those working in this demanding, pressurised and unpredictable employment sector.”

Sarah says the chaplains want to gain an informed understanding of the challenges, issues and frustrations facing staff and management.

“Superficial conversations can develop over time into relationships of trust and deeper sharing.  We do not take Christ to the market-place – we meet with him there.”

kaleidoscope-jonathanpye-5The Revd Dr Jonathan Pye is superintendent of the Kendal Circuit in Cumbria, with experience in chaplaincy and in teaching chaplaincy.

He was keen to develop work in this rural context. The relocation of Kendal auction mart to a new purpose-built site offered an opportunity to develop a weekly chaplaincy for the farming community.

Alongside pastoral contacts, there is now an annual carol service, attracting over 200 people, and the district synod has met at the auction mart.

Jonathan has also worked with the Farm Community Network, raising awareness of rural mental health issues, and is developing an ecumenical town centre chaplaincy in Kendal.

kaleidoscope-carolwilsonAs Head of Spiritual Care with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Carol Wilson manages a culturally- diverse team of staff and volunteers supporting service users and staff across 17 hospital sites. Quite a day job for a local preacher!

Carol said, “We work with people to help them find, or reconnect with, things that help them make sense of what’s happening in their struggles and joys.

“Sometimes it’s about faith, it’s often about ‘why?’ and it’s always about listening as we walk alongside people.”

kaleidoscope-allison-waterhouseThe Revd Allison Waterhouse is full- time community chaplain at Wandsworth Prison, creating links between the community and prison to support the change prisoners need to stop reoffending.

She said: “I walked into a prison and there was no hesitation that chaplaincy was my calling. The challenges, the brokenness, were the substance of life with which God calls Christians to work, pray, then re-mould and renew.”

Allison believes prison reveals society’s inequalities and increasing lack of social conscience. Community Chaplaincy Trust volunteers “are examples of profound care and self-giving by those who take on the task of ‘mending the broken-hearted and setting the prisoner free’.”

“Fi yw’r Parchg Marc Morgan, ers 2012, yn Arweinydd Ardal Glannau Maelor (Synod Cymru).

“Rwyf wedi ymwneud â phêl-droed ers sawl blwyddyn, ond yn fwy ddiweddar fel cefnogwr o dîm Y Drenewydd, sy’n chwarae yn Uwch Gynghrair Cenedlaethol Cymru.

Yn 2009, gwelwyd yr angen am gaplan a fe ofynnwyd i mi. Mi ddes yn rhywun all pawb, yn y clwb, droi ato, i siarad ag o.

“Does gennyf ddim iwnifform, dim ond gôt mawr coch gyda’r gair chaplain wedi ei ysgrifennu o dan bathodyn y clwb. Nid ywf yn pregethu ond yna, gan sefyll ochor yn ochor, ar adegau o hapusrwydd a thristwch.”

kaleidoscope-caroline-rydercol-1For over half a century, Leeds Methodists have supported students through chaplaincy. The Revd Caroline Ryder is part of the ecumenical team covering Leeds and Leeds Beckett University.

“We play a vital role in university life by offering pastoral care and also through our work with other counselling and mental health practitioners.

“We offer a safe space for spiritual exploration and hospitality via the many groups held on the premises – Café Church, Bible groups, midweek worship. We also use creative outreach opportunities to connect and speak up for Christian values in the study and workplace.”

kaleidoscope-andy-halsteadThe Revd Andy Halstead served for five years to 2002 as whole-time chaplain to St Catherine’s Hospice, Preston. Currently, he is part-time chaplain to East Cheshire Hospice.

“Being a chaplain is about being available and open to all our patients, their relatives, carers, staff and volunteers,” said Andy.

“My work brings me into contact with so many people I would never meet in the usual course of circuit ministry. I listen to the stories, the highs and the lows of what is happening, to people facing life-limiting illnesses, those who face grief and loss and those who seek to support and care for them.”

He works with two volunteer chaplains, visiting people in Day Care and the Inpatient Unit, attends the weekly Multi- Disciplinary Team meeting and shares in educating others about spiritual care.

This article originally appeared in the connexion magazine, issue 2.
Photos: © Farmers Guardian, TMCP