Community chaplaincy gains momentum
Details of new training opportunities in March Southern Cross, available in churches
Standing Committee has endorsed a decision by the board of Evangelism and New Churches to create “community chaplains” as a way of reaching the 90 per cent of people beyond the current reach of diocesan Mission programs.
The new strategy has emerged from a review of existing chaplaincy arrangements. “We are mostly out of touch with the bulk of our city,” said Bruce Hall, director of Evangelism and New Churches (pictured above). “If we are to evangelise and grow our churches four times better than we are at the present, we would still have 90 per cent not reached with the gospel. We need to begin by raising up a new generation of men and women who are evangelists who don’t run [churches] but are connected with churches. We need a generation of ‘missionaries’ to our city.”
The review looked at the work done by bodies such as Anglicare, Anglican Retirement Villages and schools, as well as other chaplaincy models outside the Diocese. ‘Great work is already being done in the public space by small platoons of God’s people,’ the review’s report said, ‘and our recommendation is to strengthen that work and increase it by providing formal training, funding and a structure that will allow greater participation by all of the Anglican Diocese, its parishes and its laity’.
In fact, lay involvement is expected to be key to the strategy, as well as a unified diocesan education program. Along with the report, Standing Committee members were given copies of the article in the May 2013 edition of the diocesan newspaper Southern Cross, which looked at the opportunities for chaplains in emergency services and disaster recovery. The report said an expansion of the chaplaincy program is ‘an opportunity for partnership between the parishes, mission areas and the community.
It provides the basis for future rapid community support for disaster-related events’.
Statistics cited by the report said that in the next 40 years Australia’s population would reach 35 million with 87 per cent of that growth through migration. New migrants and children will make up more than one third of the population.
Said Mr Hall: “We need new initiatives to increase our gospel ‘reach’ into the community and we need to examine how to use the resources we currently devote to the 10 per cent to improve our work among the 90 per cent. The fields are white, but the labourers are often looking elsewhere”.