Building Chaplaincy in Poole
Rev Mike Oates speaks about his new role:
My counselling tutor tells us that the ‘only constant is change’. People face change; in hospitals, colleges and in work where they re-train, adapt to several careers in a working life. Change has always been the edge on which the church has been shaped.
Jesus tells his disciples to ‘go out...’ This is difficult for a church that invests and roots in buildings, meetings and locality. Although all congregations will have pioneers and people who ‘look out’ by nature, much of our energy is used in keeping, inviting, making what we do as attractive as we can for others to join us.
I served as parish priest for fifteen years – in London for four years and on Canford Heath in Poole for eleven. They were good years for building experience, trying things and making mistakes. Leaving the parish I worked as Anglican Chaplain to St Edward’s Joint RC /CE VA School in Poole and began counselling training. At St Edward’s I discovered in chaplaincy what I always felt was latent in the chaplaincy work I had done before in the parish but could never really develop; like hospital, Mayor’s Chaplain and chaplain to my local Asda store. There is something about being able to give one person full attention in context at there behest, following their agenda and supporting their exploration with the resources of faith and tradition which is the gift the church offers the world. My counselling training has led me deeper into this engagement – currently with Essential Drug and Alcohol Services in Poole – a marvellous example of compassion, commitment, creativity and perseverance in action.
I bring all that to this post and look to be able to find a way forward for this enterprise with a strong team in the town centre of Poole, which makes up the Poole Borough Chaplaincy Team.
I look forward to working with the contexts that have been well served by chaplains in the past and now wish to continue that work with teams of volunteers. My work over the next year is to promote this model of volunteer teams of chaplains in Poole and work with others to offer training and support as they start their work.
In Chaplaincy we will often wonder why we are there…like those who puzzled over why Jesus went to Samaria, met with the Syro-Phoenecian woman and ate in places outside of the acceptable bounds. We will have conversations that lead nowhere, and others that will ignite our lives; we will begin to create a different landscape, one that has no map to describe it. It will be more about wandering than marching, more about listening than telling and often more about receiving than giving. We will dialogue with accents and languages beyond our known tongue and in the process, I believe, we will find ourselves in the presence of one who has ‘gone out’ before us. This is what I hope for the development of chaplaincy.
Mike is funded for a day a week for a year to develop this model of voluntary chaplaincy teams. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or if you might be interested in joining a chaplaincy visiting team.