Chaplaincy: Listen, Care, Pray, Bless


By Revd Mike Haslam

About Revd Mike

Revd Mike Haslam is Chaplaincy Development Adviser at the Diocese of Bath and Wells

With a background in youth work, parishes, schools and chaplaincies he is now supporting and developing a network of over 240 chaplains across 130 chaplaincies. Mike has a desk in Wells but most of his working life is lived out across Somerset, supporting and developing chaplaincy. 

An 11-year-old student was asked what the school chaplain did.  He replied that the chaplain was there to:

"Listen, care, pray for and bless the school."

There are as many models of chaplaincy as there are of the local church, yet this remains one of the most all-encompassing and concise definitions I have heard.

Ewen in pulpit

Chaplaincy is a growing part of the mixed ecology of the church

It is a missional ministry, going out from the local faith community and meeting people where they are, living and sharing faith there. This also means that chaplaincy works with a significantly younger and more diverse population than those often present within our church communities. The Church of England’s 2020s vision could almost have been written for chaplaincy.


Chaplaincy cannot exist without the local church

Every Christian chaplain that I know (including me) has been raised up through the local church.  The local church continues to pray for us and support us in so many ways, including financially.  At their best chaplaincies, new and well-established, are partnerships between the local faith communities, the chaplains and the organisations we serve.


Is God calling me to be a chaplain?

In the Diocese of Bath and Wells, we have seen what has been described as ‘an explosion’ of chaplaincy.  Over fifty new chaplaincies have been established over the past five years, in community secondary schools, care homes, a nuclear power station, villages and estates and beyond.  One of the most significant aspects of this growth have been the number of secular organisations, with no previous history of chaplaincy, who have come to us and said ‘yes’ they would like a chaplain.  Alongside this has been a wonderful line of people from local churches of all traditions and denominations, who have asked the question, ‘Is God calling me to be a chaplain?’ and have been willing to respond and serve.

At a sports chaplaincy conference I was asked for my greatest sporting moment. I said that I didn’t have one – and was nearly thrown out – but that I was there because I was passionate about chaplaincy, meeting people where they are and offering to journey with them.  I later reflected that even chaplaincy is only incidental to me.  I’m passionate about working alongside the 95% who do not regularly visit a local church and chaplaincy is one of the pathways that can enable this ministry and mission.

The impact of chaplaincy

In September 2021, between the first and second wave of Covid, I met with focus groups in a few communities and asked them about the impact of chaplaincy. Here's what they said:

A hospital Ward Sister said:
A member of staff at Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station said of their newly appointed chaplain:
Dr Mike Osborn, Clinical Psychologist at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (at the height of the covid pandemic) said:
A student at Bath University said of the chaplaincy:

Who can be a Chaplain?

  • All sorts of people from all backgrounds and walks of life are called by God to be chaplains. Chaplaincy can be a full time or a part-time role. It can be paid or voluntary and can be fulfilled by lay and ordained alike.

How do I become a Chaplain?

  • First take time to pray and talk with people you know and trust in your local faith community. If you believe God is calling you to a chaplaincy role, or if you are considering setting up a chaplaincy in your school, workplace, organisation, or community contact your Diocese for more information.


Find out more about the Church of England's Vision for the 2020s

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