Chaplaincy Newsletter (February 2021)

10 February 2021

Thank you!

'It's snowing!' I've said that a few times recently. There was a time when I'd get excited about snow days, but now not even the snow can stop me working from home. Working from home? What's that all about? It's been nearly a year since the world changed. So many people have commented on how it must be tough starting a new job during lockdown restrictions. Well, yes. I miss the physical presence of colleagues: shared cake, cups of tea together.

Yet, somehow it's been a blessing. This online world of Zoom has meant I've connected with so many people in such a short time, individual chaplains, organisations and those who have roles supporting chaplaincy across the connexion. And what have I found? That those involved in chaplaincy are kind and supportive. So thank you for all the support and care that chaplains exhibit every day. It's certainly helping me through these difficult times!

But I'm also aware of the many people who are finding it challenging to work in the current situation, especially chaplains. Chaplains who are used to being present and among people having to find ways to connect and continue the vitally important pastoral care that is needed in our communities. There are no easy solutions, but you are not alone. I'm hoping that some of the opportunities outlined below enable chaplains to connect with others and share this burden together.

In this issue, I'm so delighted to share with you news of our 'Connecting Chaplains' opportunities and events. 

Connexional Connecting Chaplains Gathering

We held a positive gathering of chaplains in December. It offered us a chance to explore how we might better support chaplains. It was great to see over 75 individuals there. We did some things well and of course we've got things to improve. We're so grateful for all the time taken to give us feedback.

Our next Connexional Connecting Chaplains Gathering is on Tuesday 9th March, 7.30pm - 9.00pm. Based on the feedback we've made some decisions. These quarterly events will consist of three parts:

  • Connecting with God
    The President of Conference, the Revd Richard Teal, will be leading our March devotions.
  • Connecting with the issues
    Our March topic will be How can we support the mental wellbeing of those we serve? and we'll hear a short message from three chaplains about their experiences.
  • Connecting with each other
    A good amount of our time together will be in small breakout rooms where you will have an opportunity to connect with other chaplains and reflect on the theme of the event.

 Click here for booking information

The event is open to anyone involved in chaplaincy, whether you're lay or ordained, full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, Methodist or not. I look forward to seeing you there.

Connecting Chaplains Opportunities

In addition to our quarterly event, we're offering a whole range of opportunities to connect with others. Starting in April, we're going to be hosting a weekly Take Time for Chaplains devotion and meditation time based on the lectionary gospel reading. Why not join us and take some time with God.

From the beginning of March, there'll be a number of Chaplaincy Tea/Coffee and Chat opportunities. These are designed to bring people together involved in similar chaplaincy work. No agenda, but a space to talk, listen, support, share and care for each other.

Click here for more information and to sign up for these events

Regardless of how involved you are in chaplaincy, whether you're lay or ordained, full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, Methodist or not, you are incredibly welcome at these events. 

Chaplaincy in the News

Light in prison darkness (the connexion magazine, p.20)

Faith and farming in Herefordshire (Methodist blog)

Keeping the faith: Christian chaplains in the time of Covid (BBC)

How House chaplain calmed tense hours in besieged Capitol with prayers for ‘God’s covering’ (Religion News) 

Final thought

After a recent conversation with a chaplain, I was encouraged to reflect on the theme of noticing. Chaplains are gifted in the ability to notice what's going on around them, even when it's not the centre of attention: to see the world in different ways and notice the real value of each human life.

This made me ponder the ways in which Jesus noticed others. I thought about the widow's offering (Mark 12:41–44 or Luke 21:1–4). Who would most people notice? The large gifts and the rich people, but who does Jesus notice? The widow and her small gift. What does he see? A woman giving away all she had. 

We must never underestimate this gift of noticing. Seeing things in a different way to the world. Chaplains, immersed in the narratives of the world, see with eyes like Jesus. They notice, they respond and they challenge.

Even at this difficult time, chaplains are noticing and responding. I think of a recent conversation with prison chaplains, where through prison doors, PPE and over telephones, they continue to notice the needs of prisoners and respond to support them with God's love.

I invite you to join me in praying these words as we think about the work of all chaplains at this time.

Loving God,

There is so much human need at the moment,
in so many places,
in so many lives.

Be with those who stand among people in need,
who notice the value of each human life,
and respond with the love of God.

Strengthen them to serve,
as Jesus served those around him,
through the sustenance of your Spirit.

Every blessing,
Gary Hopkins

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