Workplace Chaplaincy in the Footsteps of St Chad
Workplace Chaplaincyin the Footsteps of St Chad
Did St Chad visit the blacksmiths and carpenters of seventh century Britain? Did he watch the craftsman (or woman) making the items found in the Staffordshire Hoard? Bede tells us that he had Owen (Owini) to support him by doing practical work, but the extent to which Chad himself was connected with economic life remains unknown.
But it is clear that, like us, Chad lived and worked in a multi-ethnic, multi-faith environment. His world and ours are both marked by deep, widespread and ongoing transition. He and his missionaries responded to these challenges by leaving behind the known, the safe and secure, crossing boundaries to engage with the population. We know that Chad chose not to ride a horse, but walked, so that he could be alongside people.
For Chad, the concept of church did not involve a church building in the centre of the village that people would visit each day or week. Mission was not an invitation to come to a church meeting, but was expressed by going to live amongst the people. The whole of life (including economic activity, then and now) was to be lived for the purpose of establishing God’s reign on earth and bringing society into line with the purposes of God. Chad’s success – we trace the firm foundations of Christianity in the midlands of England back to him – should be an encouragement to us, as we seek to follow Christ in the footsteps of St Chad.
This will mean embracing risk, and being prepared to live life “on the edge”. Chaplains are prepared for this. They have always seen their ministry as being on the edge both of the church and the groups they serve. They cross boundaries to draw alongside people from many different backgrounds, people who face bewildering changes and transitions in their lives. Chaplaincy is one way that church will fulfil God’s mission. Living on the edge is often to be at the centre of spiritual life and renewal.
This piece is based on themes in Rob Mountford’s “The Mantle of Chad”, which is available from Lichfield Cathedral Bookshop and online via www.tentmakerpress.com at £7.99.