What is Uniting Church Chaplaincy?
Uniting Church Chaplaincy within the Queensland Synod operates across many diverse contexts.
See below for more information about the many ways chaplains serve in our community.
Approximately 21 paid and more than 90 volunteer chaplains work across Queensland in both public and private hospitals, including four hospitals owned by the Uniting Church and operated by UnitingCare Queensland.
“As chaplains we can be a part of the restoring, renewing and regaining of faith in God’s love, in times of fear and pain.” Theo Masselos, Health Chaplaincy.
There are 34 paid and over 50 volunteer chaplains who work in the community, residential and respite care through Blue Care, part of UnitingCare Queensland. Wesley Mission Queensland engages five full-time chaplains across its aged care services.
“It is important for people in aged care communities to be able to tell their stories, to reminisce, to face their end of life journeys feeling supported and cared for.” Barbara Betts, Aged Care Chaplaincy.
The education sector is large and complex. It currently covers government schools, private schools and universities. Chaplains are employed through a number of different organisations. The Synod Schools and Residential Colleges Commission and the Chaplaincy Commission continue to work towards strengthening the network of Uniting Church and Uniting Church affiliated schools together with building capacity in chaplaincy across this sector.
“School chaplaincy is about being seen, being available and being invited to conversations, by school students and staff.” Rev Richard Cassady, Education Chaplaincy.
Chaplaincy in Queensland state schools is managed mostly through Scripture Union. There are a number of Uniting Church members who are chaplains in state schools.
Many Uniting Church congregations help fund chaplains in their local schools. There is an opportunity here for state schools and Uniting Church congregations to partner, both with respect to paid chaplains and also with the involvement of volunteer chaplains.
The Uniting Church is involved in six Uniting Church schools, four Uniting Church affiliated schools (through the PMSA) and three ecumenical schools.
There are seven Uniting Church chaplains across this network, who work together with chaplains from other Christian denominations who serve in Uniting Church and Uniting Church affiliated schools. Federal government funding for chaplaincy is available to all schools and may supplement or help kick-start chaplaincy in non-government schools.
The Uniting Church in Queensland helps fund chaplaincy at Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology (QUT) (administered on behalf of the Heads of Churches by the Ecumenical Tertiary Chaplaincy Committee), and through the Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre at James Cook University in Townsville. The Queensland Synod jointly funds chaplaincy services to a number of campuses at the University of Queensland (UQ), in collaboration with the Bremer Brisbane Presbytery.
Technical and Further Education (TAFE)
This area of chaplaincy is somewhat untapped and there are many opportunities for chaplaincy in the future.
In Queensland, there are seven Uniting Church chaplains serving across the Army (RAA), Navy (RAN) and Air Force (RAAF). Three of these are full-time. Unlike other contexts, there are no volunteer or lay chaplains. Requirements for recruiting and induction processes, courses for skill development and career pathways are determined and paid for by the Defence Force.
“Chaplaincy in the military is important because chaplains exist outside the chain of command…our presence is a sign of peace and hope.” Rev John Dansie, Defence Force Chaplaincy.
Across Queensland, police chaplains provide care and support for police officers and staff members as well as their families. This is an ecumenical service with the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Uniting churches. Full-time chaplains from other protestant denominations currently come under the umbrella of the Uniting Church within the Queensland Police Service structure. There are 11 Uniting Church chaplains serving as full-time, part-time or volunteer chaplains across Queensland.
“Being a police services chaplain is a tough gig. You have to constantly be on the alert and you are often dealing with ugly and messy situations.” Rev Andrea Robertson, Police Chaplaincy.
The Uniting Church’s involvement in Queensland Emergency Services chaplaincy is currently under-developed, but presents opportunities particularly around the development of an emergency response chaplaincy network across Queensland. There are currently two volunteer Emergency Services chaplains.
UnitingCare Queensland provides a wide range of community services across Queensland and the Northern Territory and chaplains provide pastoral care in a range of these services. There is one full-time chaplain who provides pastoral care and support for staff working in the areas of Child and family services, Disability services and Lifeline retail stores.
Prison Ministry including First Peoples Prison Ministry
UnitingCare Queensland oversees the Uniting Church’s Prison Ministry Service and an ecumenical First People’s Prison Ministry Chaplaincy Service.
There are currently no paid Uniting Church chaplains in placement with one full-time Prison Ministry coordinator and one part-time First Peoples Prison Ministry coordinator providing oversight to the services. Chaplaincy into the prisons is primarily provided by volunteer lay chaplains. There are 44 volunteer chaplains including 19 First People’s chaplains who visit around 8000 prisoners across 14 correctional facilities around Queensland.
There are strict recruitment procedures overseen by the State Chaplaincy Board on behalf of Corrective Services Queensland, with regular professional supervision and CEM (continuing education for ministry) expectations as part of ongoing accreditation.
“Prison Chaplaincy is about being church and representing the church without judgement or sanction.” Rev Dennis Corowa, First Peoples Prison Ministry.
There are currently no paid Uniting Church chaplains in this area.
Many chaplains involved in sport work ecumenically and so do not come directly under the Synod Chaplaincy Commission’s umbrella. There are, however, a number of Uniting Church ministers and lay members who work as chaplains within the areas of surf lifesaving, cricket, basketball and rugby and perform this role from a faith perspective because they love the sport or activity and the people involved.
“Chaplaincy provides a support network to catch the many unrealised hopes and dreams of aspiring sportsmen and women.” Rev Lu Senituli, Sports Chaplaincy.
Currently, there is no formal tourism chaplaincy services in the Queensland Synod. However, in a variety of ways, congregations and ministers are connecting with tourists and those working in the tourism and hospitality sectors in their communities. This area also presents opportunities for the future.