Julia Perry 16 June 2015
The most common question asked of chaplains: So what do you actually do?
Plan, adapt, change, play, listen, weep, laugh, pray, conduct funerals and weddings, chat about Baptism, drive (a lot), arrange, rearrange, be visible and vulnerable, and undertake blessings, cleansings and openings. Participate in orientation of staff – to introduce the role and best use of a chaplain – and the Scriptural and faith basis of Samaritans. Attend Diocesan Council and Synod, meetings with the Senior Management team of Samaritans and the Anglican and Ecumenical social issues groups. While I may offer counsel or support or advocacy I make my faith motivation clear – I am not a ‘claytons’ social worker! I am about strengthening staff resilience, hope and wellness – in manners they can receive – respecting faiths and beliefs.
While primarily chaplain to the Samaritan staff (about 750 salaried and 350 volunteers) I will be involved with the people we support if that is requested. Our services now extend beyond Diocesan boundaries and while any engagement is preferable face to face I do have to use internet etc. to keep in touch with staff.
In any week I may well:
- Attend meetings with staff of disability services about end of life issues for their residents,
- Put together PowerPoint slides for parishes to use during worship
- Support a staff member or team in grief or distress situations or in conversations with the HR team.
- Listen to the heartache or anger of people about the church and its intolerant or inappropriate behaviours.
- Meet with Parish Links from various regions to support and inform about Samaritans activities
- Accept speaking invitations to MU or Lions etc
- Liaise between the Health & Justice Chaplains and Samaritans
- Walk around the block, sit in Maccas or on the back stairs or upwind at the smoko areas and have informal chats with staff
- Loiter at everything from baby-showers to the opening of an envelope!
- Rearrange the entire week in response to some urgent request for support!
The Rev’d Dr Julia Perry