THERE ARE more than 15,000 chaplains in the UK, new research from the Religion and Society think tank, Theos, has revealed. Their survey was carried out in association with the Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies. The comprehensive report, ‘A Very Modern Ministry’, puts a case that chaplaincy has a key part to play in the future of the Church, where regular church attendance is declining. The report, carried out over a three-month period, found that Luton has 169 chaplains, which works out as one per 1,200 people, ‘plugging the gap’ in welfare services; 13 per cent of these were without salary or stipend. The report found that chaplains are ‘under-appreciated’ though benefitting the communities they serve by paving righteous ground in a practical, contemporary context.
Case studies included a chaplain in a sports club who challenged the club’s decision to choose a controversial sponsor and a multifaith chaplain in Canary Wharf who looked at ways to explore ethics in finance as well as pastoral support. Report author Ben Ryan said that the model of worship is shifting from ‘Church to chapel’ as ‘the man in the street is more likely to meet a chaplain in his daily life than any other formal religious figure.’