Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The Church of England’s involvement in chaplaincy: research report for the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council

Todd, Andrew, Slater, Victoria and Dunlop, Sarah 2014. The Church of England’s involvement in chaplaincy: research report for the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council. [Project Report]. Cardiff: Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies. Available at:

[thumbnail of Todd, Slater & Dunlop 2014 Report on Church of England Chaplaincy.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (1MB) | Preview


This research involved a quantitative mapping exercise, which sought to establish how good a numerical picture of the Church of England’s involvement in chaplaincy could be drawn, by using (and enhancing) existing data-gathering opportunities such as returns from dioceses. The result is only a partial picture, a minimum of 1415 reported chaplains known to the Church of England. This is identified as a significant underestimate, especially in relation to the scale of lay volunteers involved in chaplaincy. From the five qualitative case-studies of different kinds of chaplaincy, different models of chaplaincy are identified, ranging from the full-time ordained chaplain (paid for by the Church of England or other organizations) to the volunteer lay person doing a few hours of chaplaincy a week. The models involve different combinations of lay and ordained, full-time, part-time and volunteer, paid or resourced by different organizations. This implies the need to further establish the range of definitions and models of chaplaincy. The case-studies cast light on the identity of chaplaincy, which involves: doing God’s work in secular places; being always pastoral; but also engaging with people when they want to explore and reflect on moral or spiritual questions; and therefore accompanying them in their spiritual development. This work of chaplaincy is often hidden, both from the host organization and the church. Most hidden is the significant and growing work of lay volunteers, as well as the work of full-time chaplains who enable the lay involvement. The research uncovered both connections and disconnections involving chaplaincy, with host organizations and the church. Chaplains continue to feel not consistently connected with church structures, but are committed to improving connections, especially with those involved in other kinds of ministry (not least parochial ministry). This implies the need for chaplains to be more consistently represented, supported and enabled at local, diocesan and national level. Chaplains spoke of mission sometimes in precise ways, sometimes with more diffidence. Most often their missiology was articulated in terms of incarnation, which at its most clearly expressed was about a ministry of presence, action and public theology, which supported people in being more fully human, but which also drew back the “veil” to reveal the presence of God. The report argues that this understanding of mission needs to be relocated within the Church of England’s wider missiology, with a corresponding re-evaluation of the part that chaplaincy plays alongside other forms of ministry (for example in relation to mission action planning), and with a re-integration of chaplaincy and its insights into all areas of education and training, both for chaplaincy’s own sake and for the sake of the wider mission. Chaplains found the organizational imperative to demonstrate the ‘impact’ of their work a challenge. While chaplains had developed models for producing ‘evidence’ of impact, they also spoke about the difficulty of quantifying what they did. In relation to mission, they reflected on not knowing when and where the seeds they planted might bear fruit. As part of a consultation exercise at which initial findings were shared with research participants, the relationship of chaplaincy to the Church of England’s Quinquennial Goals (see Appendix 5) and discipleship was explored. While chaplains did not make numerical growth a primary aim, they were explicit about their involvement in enabling spiritual growth; and they were committed to making better connections between this work and the congregational life of the church, where people might locate their growth. Nurturing discipleship was not a language natural to chaplaincy. But chaplains engaged with the concept, identifying as significant their work of supporting people to explore faith. Lay volunteer involvement in chaplaincy was also identified as one way for people to develop their discipleship. The research concludes that chaplaincy is a significant resource for the church. However, this report also argues that for the church to fully benefit from the resource, the relocating of chaplaincy in structures, understandings and practices of mission, ministry and education (mentioned above) is essential. The full benefit of chaplaincy to the church includes significant insight into the world of employment (and Christian discipleship in that context) and a range of areas of public theology. The report also concludes that chaplaincy is a church resource for the common good, extending the work and mission of the church into a range of contexts, social settings and generations less touched by other areas of ministry. This is a continuing bold engagement with the secular and an important part of the Church’s contribution to civil and wider society. Finally the report identifies chaplaincy as a resource for the future. It suggests that a more consistent approach to the support and resourcing of chaplaincy would have significant returns. The research uncovers potential connections between chaplaincy and other areas of ministry, that would enrich the Church’s understanding and practice of mission; offer opportunities to connect those who are at present un-connected or disenchanted with the Church, but who are touched by chaplaincy, with the congregational life of the Church; and facilitate partnerships with a range of organizations who currently value and resource the work of chaplains.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: Cardiff Centre for Chaplaincy Studies
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2017 03:48

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics