Faith at Work XLIX
When I go to visit GKN Autostructures as Chaplain, I sign in at the front gate and receive a visitor’s badge to wear as I go round. That’s fine – I am invited in as a welcome guest to be alongside people at their work. I also wear the blue jacket that other workers wear, partly as protection and partly to acknowledge my sense of belonging in the factory. I still stand out however, not only because of my collar but also because the jacket stays relatively clean as I don’t get my hands dirty by being seriously involved with the manufacturing process. Several people have asked me why I wear both; it’s a good question and worth exploring a little as a living parable.
As a chaplain, I have a variety of roles. The first is a two-way relationship between the church and the world. The church needs to know the issues that exist in the world in order to understand them more and to pray about them. It also needs to be clear about the faith that it proclaims in the context of the world so that it can express its beliefs in ways that are relevant and speak to the world around. It is useful to be formally represented (with the collar and the jacket) in the world so that direct links can be forged and insights gained at first hand.
The world often needs to be supported spiritually, though it sometimes struggles to express itself in this way. Having someone visit from the church helps it to recognise the concern that the church has for the world and to explore issues in the workplace in a broader context. A chaplain is an extra resource who is freely available and (as a visitor) independent from the human resource team; he can provide new perspectives from personal, company and worldly viewpoints; he can serve in a pastoral capacity, listening and caring for individuals as well as in a prophetic way, seeing how the business may best serve the wider world.
There is a sense in which the chaplain acts as a go-between, a friendly face who is known and trusted by the workforce but also a guest who is welcomed and given the freedom to be different. When Jesus left this world to join his Father in heaven, he promised that he would send us an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to “guide us into all the truth” [John 16:13] and to act as an interpreter between heaven and earth, the church and the world if you like. And so we pray:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.
This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2008-05-31