Theos advocates for raised profile for Norfolk chaplains
Ben Ryan of Theos spoke to the Good Work Conference last month, outlining the findings of a recent report into chaplaincy in Norfolk, and called for chaplains to receive an increased profile within the Christian community.
The first and last plenary sessions of the recent Good Work Conference were led by Ben Ryan, researcher from the Christian think-tank Theos speaking on ‘An evaluation of chaplaincy in Norfolk’ and ‘How we can evaluate Chaplaincy outcomes’.
His remit was to review and comment on the conclusions of the recent Theos Report ‘Mapping Chaplaincy in Norfolk: A Report’ published in July 2017, compiled by Ben and his colleague Natan Mladin.
Theos’ research recorded that there are 230 chaplains working in Norfolk across a broad range of organisation and sectors.
Ben highlighted that in the context of church attendance dropping by 7% in the past 11 years, chaplains occupy an important space out in the public square. He reported that trust in chaplains is good, leading to an opportunity to make an impact where and when people need it.
Reporting on the Good Work Conference, Rev Matthew Hutton, Curate of St Stephen’s, Norwich and Thorpe St Andrew Church, Norwich said: “Theos believe that Chaplaincy is important in presenting Christianity as the public face of the church. With only 2 - 6% of the population regularly attending a church, chaplaincy should be seen as an obvious connection between church and communities. Will this be seen as an opportunity?”
Around 30 delegates enjoyed the Good Work (Norfolk and Waveney Industrial Mission) Conference, which aims to resource and network work-based chaplains. It took place on Monday, November 6 in Swaffham, organised by the Rev Canon Chris Copsey, Chaplain at Norfolk's Coroners Service and The Matthew Project.
Rev Matthew Hutton reported: “This was another most stimulating day, one that has become firmly established in the Norfolk Christian calendar, with much to feed and encourage the imagination for ministry possibilities.”
Plenary sessions were also delivered by Rev Dr Fiona Stewart-Darling, Lead Chaplain in Canary Wharf, Dr Asgar Halim Rajput, Director of Muslim Chaplains in Education and Caroline Virgo of The Clewer Initiative.