Chaplaincy to Commerce and Industry
The church engaging with the world of work
It might, at first sight, be an odd place to find a dog collar, in one of the huge warehouses at Boots plc Beeston site. Odder still in the lingerie department of Marks & Spencer, or watching thousands of Pork Farms pork pies being packaged. But in just these places and in commercial offices, department stores and at the Inland Revenue, is where you will come upon the Revd David McCoulough, Chaplain to Commerce & Industry in Nottingham.
The Chaplaincy began in 1989 when St Peter's Church, being in the heart of the city centre, sought to extend a ministry to the commercial life of Nottingham which lay at its door. The first holder of the post, Wally Huckle, established a solid base and a highly appreciated ministry in many businesses in Nottingham. As chaplain now to branches of a number of well-known companies, David has found the service he offers has been welcomed and actively encouraged. Management and staff alike can take the opportunity to share in confidence some of their concerns, be they personal, domestic, spiritual or to do with their work, and in so doing are better able to give of themselves at work.
It must be stressed that the chaplaincy is about offering a service and a listening ear, in confidence, to all people, whatever their beliefs. At present David visits fourteen different locations employing approximately twelve thousand people. He visits each place on a regular basis, aiming to be a friendly face, who has the great advantage of being independent, for he is not "the company". The role of the chaplain is to complement a firm's human resources dept and counselling provision, where they exist, or providing that listening space where there are no other facilities.
Recently there has been the opportunity to offer personal development workshops for staff focussing on wellbeing in the workplace. These have proved highly popular with almost one hundred people attending since the beginning of this year. There is potential to offer further training and assistance in this way looking at supporting people at work especially in organisations undergoing great changes. Businesses have to cope with higher absenteeism, often due to stress related illnesses, and these workshops can compliment other strategies organised via welfare services and occupational health. There is potential also to develop work on corporate social responsibility and how to be a 'soul friendly' business and engaging with the growing Spirit at Work agenda.
The chaplaincy has always aimed to be a broad city centre team and has worked closely with the work of Bob Jones at Methodist Central Mission, who is chaplain at John Lewis and to Victoria Centre staff. The management of the chaplaincy is by a Chaplaincy Council, which has representatives from different churches, the diocese and from business. One of the responsibilities of the council is the funding of the ministry, which has always been a three-way partnership between St Peters, the Diocese of Southwell and business donations.
The great interest in workplace chaplaincy is reflected by the number of requests there are for placements for ordinands at St John's College and at EMMTEC, and also from curates as part of their ongoing training. The opportunities to develop chaplaincy in the workplace are great and the possibility of developing lay chaplains/visitors is currently being explored, for example via the Bishop's Certificate. If anybody thinks they might be interested in finding out more, either as a potential supporter or as a lay chaplain/visitor, please contact: