Community chaplaincy growth spurt
Plans are underway to recruit a force of 1000 community chaplains by the year 2020.
The aim is that community chaplains will act as evangelists in every community to either form churches or feed into existing churches.
Already the Diocese has 70 community chaplains deployed in areas as diverse as Muslim evangelism, hospital work and prison chaplaincy as well as working among people from a Catholic background, police, ambulance workers and in sporting clubs.
The inaugural community chaplaincy forum, which was held at St Philip’s, Auburn late last year, was attended by church leaders, working chaplains, training providers and many potential chaplains. The Rev Bruce Hall, who chairs the community chaplaincy task force, says those being recruited will be licenced or authorised by the Archbishop under their local supervisor.
“Our target of 1000 community chaplains deployed in the Sydney and Illawarra areas by 2020 requires every chaplain to recruit one or two more a year and every parish to deploy at least four chaplains,” Mr Hall says. “We think this is achievable.”
Sporting clubs are an area of great opportunity with, currently, 8000 unfilled sports chaplaincy positions across the country. Those chaplains already in place face many demands. Raewyn Elsegood, chaplain to a netball club in Castle Hill, has been asked by Netball NSW to provide a self-esteem course for all young netballers in the state.
Surf Lifesaving club chaplain Mark Gilbert (above) has been promoted on Foxtel as a model for providing pastoral care to young surf lifesavers facing stressful life issues.
“An ideal community chaplain is a faithful Christian man or woman who is able to love a particular people group and communicate with them about Jesus,” Mr Hall says.
Other examples include Mel Fung, who started the Jesus Club – an outreach for adults with intellectual disabilities. This now runs in at least nine parishes around Sydney. Another ministry works with women recovering from domestic violence in the Rockdale area.
Mr Hall says the group plans to run another chaplaincy forum on Sat 6th May 2017.