On being a school chaplain

On being a school chaplain

It’s been nearly 3 years since I first got into the local high school. Since those early days, my job as Niddrie Community Church’s youth worker has involved an increasing amount of time and energy spent there.

Last month, I was invited to consider becoming the school’s chaplain, an official position within the school community that would give Ellis and I a whole new range of exciting opportunities for ministry. Naturally, I accepted and today I was officially introduced to the pupils and staff at an assembly. I spoke about what chaplaincy is, and what we’ll be doing, and Ellis was able to share his testimony, explaining a little about how the Gospel has transformed his life.

Being made school chaplain is a great encouragement, and affirms us in the work we’re doing in the school. It’s particularly good considering that chaplains in Edinburgh City Council schools are generally required to be ordained Church of Scotland ministers (Ellis and I are neither ordained, nor part of the Church of Scotland!)

Initially, our chaplaincy role is going to include the following:

  • Fulfilling the school’s statutory requirements in religious observance, for example doing assemblies at Christmas, Easter, and on other occasions throughout the school year.
  • Supporting the RME (Religious and Moral Education) curriculum, including teaching different classes (we’ve already been doing this for a year or so).
  • Providing pastoral care for pupils and their families, meeting up with young people on a one-2-one basis or with their families for support/guidance.
  • Being available at community events (we’re already doing this to a certain extent).
  • Providing support for the school and for pupils in times of difficulty.

We’ve also been given a classroom, next to the RME classroom, to be our ‘Chaplaincy Base’. Having a space of our own up at the school has been a great leap forward. We’re free to kit it out as we see fit, using spare furniture from the school, and stuff of our own, maybe a fridge, kettle, etc. We’ll open it up for people to come in and have lunch with us, perhaps even use the space for after school clubs and such like.

As you can tell, there are a whole host of new opportunities opening up in the high school, and ways in which we can develop and grow the existing work there. We’re really thankful for the continuing favour we have with the school senior management team, and for all God’s doing in and through us.

There’s no telling how long this season of good favour will last, but the intention is to make the most of it while we have it. With more and more public sector cut-backs, people are looking increasingly to the voluntary sector, and particularly to the church to fill the gaps in youth work provision. Less money for schools like ours, and greater competition for funding among other local agencies working with young people, present the church with really exciting opportunities to serve our communities and bring the gospel to bear in people’s lives.

We’re excited about the future of the work in the local high school. And as we have meetings next week with the head teacher at the local primary school about potential for involvement with this younger age bracket of children, we’re praying for God’s guidance. And as the work in the school’s grows, so too will my need for a team of Godly and committed volunteers to get involved.

Pray with us.