Church Link April 2016
It is my hope that every Alabaré service or project has a Christian chaplain. The chaplain’s role is to provide care and support to Service Users, staff and volunteers within a broad understanding of spirituality, yet one that is rooted in the Christian faith.
The community theologian Ann Morissey works with the idea of three domains in which the churches work: the explicit, the foundational and the vocational. Chaplaincy is primarily concerned with the foundational domain, where the task is ‘to strengthen people’s confidence in their intimation that there is an enduring spiritual reality’ (p.126). Chaplains are ‘involved in a ministry of awakening, and are practised in the courage of beginning conversations of the spirit which enable people, however haltingly, to explore their sense of there being more to life than meets the eye.’ (p. 127)
As far as is possible I look for lay and ordained chaplaincy volunteers who have the knowledge of local community networks and services. The walls of the Alabaré homes can then open out and turn into bridges which connect Service Users, staff and volunteers with a diverse and supportive local community. Hopefully relationships nurtured may then continue when a Service User moves to independent living. If s/he moves to another community then they do so with the knowledge that they will be a range of local supportive organisations from churches to choirs to allotments where they can find a place to belong.
An example is how St Paul’s Church in Salisbury have welcomed clients from Emmaus to their life group, and how groups of volunteers from the church developed the garden of the mums and tots house on Bemerton Heath.
If this idea of connecting chaplaincy and local community intrigues you then enjoy this edition of our news and get in touch, for we have a number of chaplaincy vacancies to fill.
Alabaré Christian Care & Support
Developing Chaplaincy Links In The Local Context
Holy Week is a funny fixture in the Church’s calendar. The way we observe it has for many years made me wonder whether the church has privatised those dramatic events and separated them from the realities we daily face.
When I was at theological college almost 50 years ago, we spent Holy Week in silence. From the evening of Palm Sunday though to Holy Saturday with a break on Maundy Thursday for the Eucharist. On Holy Saturday we would watch the Boat race on television. This was a time to reflect and pray. A time to come closer to God and to wrestle with the meaning of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ not only for me but for the whole of humankind. Now we plan and have loads of services and rituals with beautiful music and symbolic features like the Blessing of the fire at the Dawn Eucharist on Easter Day. It has almost become an industry in itself with no attempt it seems to relate to the wider issues that we are all involved in!
It was for those reasons that I helped to devise an Easter service that was held in a large boardroom at the offices of Alabaré. They exist to support people to find a safe environment that they can call home. It’s vision of society is one where everyone has the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life. They run homes and clubs for the homeless, Veterans and those with Learning Disabilities and cover the South west of England. I visit the staff there.
Our service at lunchtime aimed to mark Holy Week and celebrate the triumph of Easter by exploring how issues faced by staff and chaplains impact on the clients, professionals and supporting agencies. How these are often seen as death experiences leading sometimes to resurrection.
There was a moving story backed up by slides like clients/victims smiling with the words underneath, Praise the Lord. Andrew Lord, Chief Executive, spoke of hope as being the driver that motivates the caring professionals to work on behalf of those who on their own would have no hope. What we tried, I believe, successfully to show was that what we experience mirrors the Passion of Christ and gives us the hope of new Creation.
It was the sense that all is not lost after all that I believed motivated St John to write that the other disciple not only saw but also believed. Hope rushed through him, Jesus was alive. We believe when we see lives transformed by hope realised. Lives transformed because caring love, persistence and a determination to succeed made what was thought to be impossible truly possible.
Some Questions to Reflect on:
- How can the powerlessness of Christ be the true source of life for us?
- Give examples of how difficult situations in your lives have been transformed by your faith.
- How do you see God at work amongst today’s poor and dispossessed?
Bible Readings to Reflect on:
- 1 Kings 21, v1-16 - The story of Naboth’s vineyard. How do we see corrupt power in our country and communities?
- John 20 v 8 - What does “seeing is believing” mean for us?
- Romans 8 v 37-39 - The breadth and depth of God’s love for us
Information For Your Church Newsletter
One of the best ways to support Alabaré is to let people know about the Services we offer.
Each month, Church Link will provide information that can be included in your Church’s newsletters, shared on their website or community boards or spoken about at prayer groups etc.
This month, our focus is on our #MayDayAppeal2016. We really need volunteers to give a helping hand at our May Day Appeal 2016. We can't do what we do without our supporters. Whether you want to take part in one of our events, raise money in your local area or give us your time as a volunteer, only you can make sure we can continue running our homes and services.
We need the support of friends, families, neighbours, members of the local community, churches, schools, businesses, everyone, to help us give that chance to all those who we support
To contact your local Community Fundraiser click here, or for more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please follow this link, where you will find a downloadable poster which can be displayed in churches, community centres, cafes etc.