Summer is passing quickly to fall, and your church calendar becomes very busy. One small, but important piece of that fall awareness is an encouragement to think about, pray for and celebrate the work of chaplains on Chaplain Sunday, November 20.
The New Testament is full of references to Jesus touching and sending his disciples out to touch those outside the boundaries of the church – especially those who were hurting, anxious, battered and broken. The average chaplain does this multiple times every day. Their specific training and placement in an institution of care makes them available in a one-to-one situation for those in crisis; carefully, lovingly, and confidentially offering respect, care and ultimately “living water” to those who thirst.
We are experiencing a growing interest in chaplaincy. There are a number of reasons why this might be happening:
- Growing professionalism in the chaplaincy field
- Large classes graduating from seminary with limited growth in parish ministries
- The increased variety of chaplaincy opportunities
- More publicity (in the news media and elsewhere) about the exciting work done by chaplains
- A youth culture that is seeking non-traditional ways of doing ministry, etc.
But the important thing is that we now have more applications for endorsement than we have ever seen. Our cadre of chaplains now approaching 150 (to see the many faces click here) and these are scattered all over the U.S. and Canada (with a few serving in military overseas). The Google map (click here) noted below will give you a better visual idea of our significant network of chaplains working around the world.
These dedicated individuals touch hundreds of lives and families in crisis every week. We celebrate this reality on Chaplaincy Sunday -- again, this year November 20, 2016 (though you are free to choose another date).
Some churches hold the credentials of our chaplains, and some do not. Some know about the outstanding work of chaplains over the past 75 years (to view our milestones in history click here) and some do not. But all of us should be aware of, proud of, and praying for what our chaplains are doing in extending the reach of the church into the secular world.
These specially trained men and women serve in hospitals, hospices, counseling agencies, long term care facilities, correctional facilities, community service agencies, VA centers, the military, and the workplace and among other populations in crisis. They touch hundreds of lives every day with the presence and the love of Christ. They are the “first responders” of the spiritual world. Many of them are responding to “fox-hole conversions” and working around emergency room life-and-death decisions on a daily basis. Whether in a nursing home or on a battlefield, our chaplains have served with courage and distinction over the course of the last century.
If nothing else, pray with us on November 20 (or any other date) for the safety and effectiveness of chaplains who represent our denomination and our King of kings in many places you would not expect: from the boiler room to the board room, from the hospital room to the battlefield, from the police car to the Pentagon, from a school playground to the floor of Parliament; from the deck of an aircraft carrier to the floor of a play room in a children's hospital.
Please give them a voice and a hand on November 20.