What is Chaplaincy?

Chaplains have been around for centuries in one form or another. The word ‘Chaplain’ is an anglicization of the Latin word ‘Capellanus’ meaning chapel (Capella) via the French word ‘Chapelain’. Chaplains have become an integral part of Military Life and Clergy who have provided care in institutions other than Churches have often been come to be known as Chaplains.

Chaplains in civilian life have been typically associated with Hospitals, Mental Health Centres, Hospices, and in education at Universities and Colleges. Today Chaplains can be found in a variety of settings including all of the above as well as Businesses, Schools, City Councils, and Theatres, providing a whole range of functions.

A chaplain no longer needs by necessity to be ordained, many Chaplains serving in industry and in the greater economic environment are lay people. The Lay Chaplain is becoming more common and in many cases have better people skills, particularly in the workplace because of their personal experience and understanding of the pressures of work on life in general. Christian Workplace Chaplains fulfil a role in the church that is distinctly different from day to day church life, presenting a real incarnational presence in the situation they are placed in.

Chaplains will often come into contact with folk of different faiths or no faith and so will need to have some knowledge and understanding of cultural differences and belief patterns. This will make contact easier and open doors for engagement and trust. Christians do have a different theology of place and pastoring to other religions and belief models, many of whom find the concept of an intentional presence to meet spiritual needs odd. For this reason SCM would like to ensure that, wherever possible, those providing Chaplaincy services are Christians.

A Chaplains role is important. Most of us, at some time in our lives need the support and friendship that a Chaplain can provide.