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WPCS is a para church organisation, encompassing many different denominations. Sometimes a church/fellowship/congregation has an idea they would like to explore but no real idea how to go about it.  They have discerned an opportunity in their community, but the way forward may not be so clear.

WPCS can act as a support to specific pieces of work undertaken by a church as they seek to serve their community.  We can train those who will be taking part in the project, provide consultancy for the strategy and its implementation, be a listening ear for all involved (the church workers and those who are being served), give oversight to that particular project so releasing the leadership of the church to get on with the wider vision and day-to-day needs of their church.

Ecumenism works best when it’s not just  an agreement on paper, but rather when local Christians get together to address a real presenting need in the community they share.  WPCS can help to focus such efforts in a professional manner.

You may find it interesting to read here what it means to churches to partner with us:

Rev David Denniston, formerly of Edinburgh City Centre Churches Together looks back on how the work began and how it has benefited the parishes.

“Two of the city centre congregations already had experience of funding workers/ministers in the workplace environment (St Cuthbert’s to the business community and St Andrew’s and St George’s to the retail sector) so we were well aware of the value in connection with the workplace. 

“Moreover, in our wider partnership in Edinburgh City Centre Churches Together, we are committed to serving and connecting with the community around us which is largely a workplace community.

“All of our congregations are aware that we must increasingly move beyond a ‘congregational’ model of church which focuses solely on Sunday worship etc., and move towards a more ‘missional’ and ‘community’ model which sees our role as serving the surrounding community.

 ”As well as being a valued member of the joint ministry team of our congregations and being involved in worship Tony‘s (Edinburgh Chaplaincy Team Leader Rev Tony Bryer) clear contribution is to not only work on behalf of the churches in the workplace of Edinburgh city centre, but also to interpret the reality of the workplace and the value of chaplaincy to the congregations and enable us to see more clearly and respond more effectively to the surrounding community of the workplace.

 “Any congregation with a large workplace sector in its parish should be considering that this is part of our ‘parish’ responsibility. But the congregation would also need to be fully aware that investment in this type of ministry is not about ‘evangelism’ or ‘more people in church on a Sunday’ or more money in the plate every week!

“This is about a congregation investing in serving a significant sector of its parish and maintaining a presence there, on behalf of Christ and his Church.” 

Rev Moira McDonald, minister at Corstorphine Old Parish Church, Edinburgh: “Corstorphine Old parish lies to the west of Edinburgh and over the last twenty years has seen major shopping and office developments on its outskirts - around 55,000 people commute into the parish every day to work in banks and offices including the HQ of the RBS, Aegon, and Miller Homes.

“This huge influx meant that a new kind of ministry was needed alongside the traditional work of a parish minister. The church approached WPCS with a view to appointing a part-time worker to minister to the office workers, airport employees and shoppers and staff at the Gyle shopping centre, taking over at the Gyle from a part-time chaplain who was about to retire. After a couple of years we could see the need for a full-time chaplain as the role and understanding of the workplace chaplain developed and became clearer.

 “More recently we have changed the role again so that a couple of days a week of the chaplain’s time are spent in development work, encouraging local churches to ‘reclaim the public space’, continuing the workplace chaplaincy on the other three days.

“The Old Parish congregation had long realised we were not equipped to address the changes in the parish, and welcomed the new post, although it took us longer to accept that workplace chaplaincy did not mean putting ‘bums on seats’ on Sunday mornings, but taking the church to people ‘where they are’.

“Links are kept between the chaplains and the congregation through regular reports to the Kirk Session and during Sunday services – and the (anonymised) stories of stress, economic hardship, family breakdown and illness tell us that a friendly face and a listening ear speak of the gospel in the workplace as much as in the traditional parish setting.”

Below is an article compiled by WPCS and published in Work Place People magazine on the connections between Chaplaincy and Church:

Independent, para church organisation, Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland (WPCS) encompasses several different Christian denominations, drawing Ordained and non-Ordained chaplains from The Church of Scotland, Baptist Church, United Reformed Church, Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church and Salvation Army.

WPCS Trustee, Rev Dr Jim Purves is Mission & Ministry Advisor to the Baptist Union of Scotland, responsible for the oversight and promotion of mission and ministry development with particular focus on the changes currently taking place within the denomination, the global church and Scottish society.

 “Chaplains themselves are all people whose life is rooted in faith communities,” he said. “That is the essence of workplace chaplaincy - that they are members and therefore expressions of the compassion and love of Christ into the wider community. From my perspective, I would expect that all chaplains would be Christian people who have a commitment and a concern for people in society at large.

Rev Tony Bryer, an Episcopal priest and recently retired team leader with WPCS in Edinburgh spent much of his working life involved in chaplaincy.

Possibly the most important change he noticed in the four and a half years he worked with WPCS, was the charity’s much closer engagement with churches and the people in the pews.

“There is a sense of WPCS being more embedded in the consciousness of congregations and chaplaincy as something that can be done by folk in the pews rather than only full-time chaplains. That is good, I think. It is obvious that chaplaincy as something for the wider church to own, has definitely progressed.

 “Workplace chaplaincy is not evangelism, but it is demonstrating that the church cares for and supports people in the name of Christ. It is, from my point of view, incredibly exciting and encouraging to see how folks from the congregations can engage in chaplaincy and be really good at it. I have always seen parish ministry as being about being engaged in the wider community.”

Further illustrating that theme of congregations becoming involved as chaplains is Diane Williams, a member at Edinburgh’s Cramond Church, who volunteers as a  WPCS chaplain in a local shopping centre.

Through conversations she’d had in her own workplace, Diane said she came to realise the value of workplace chaplaincy. “I was privileged in my own workplace to have met with inspirational people from all walks of life. It had become clear to me that people need somebody to listen to them and not always in church, but outside, in the workplace, on a daily basis. I really enjoy my chaplaincy work and am very grateful to those who, through the years, have given the time to help me explore my own faith. If I hadn’t been listened to, I would not be doing what I am doing. As a chaplain, that is what I am doing - listening.”

WPCS West of Edinburgh chaplain Rev Kristina Herbold Ross, an Ordained Church of Scotland minister, works part of the week as a workplace chaplain in an area of the capital which includes a key business park, shopping centre, Edinburgh Airport and Royal Mail distribution centre. For the remainder of the week she is developing outreach in the Corstorphine West parish mentioned earlier.

Before joining the staff of WPCS last year, Mrs Herbold Ross was for five years, minister at Cockenzie and Port Seton’s Chalmers Memorial Church, some 12 miles outside Edinburgh. She sees her current chaplaincy development post as a continuation of the work she had begun there and in her native Germany.

“At Port Seton and Cockenzie we were giving a lot of thought to how, as a church, we could reach out and connect again with people in a post-modern society. The church recognises that in these uncertain times there is a wide need for pastoral care but struggles to find ways of engaging with people afresh,” she said.

“The WPCS post seemed a way for me to connect with people outside the church at their workplaces, providing a listening ear there. When I introduce myself to people who haven’t come across a chaplain before, I explain that I am a minister of the Church, but working as a chaplain now. Because people still know what a minister is, that is still a door-opener and they are happy to see that the Church is coming to them. As Christian chaplains, our motivation is the all embracing love of Christ for the world and the individual, but we serve people of all faiths and none and some of my conversations with people of other faiths have been amongst the most memorable. They are a true witness to our common humanity.

Jack Macdonald’s part-time Edinburgh chaplaincy post is the result of a pioneering collaboration between WPCS and Palmerston Place Church of Scotland where he is Ministerial Assistant. The balance between chaplaincy and ministry, with the opportunity to minister, not just to the church, but to the surrounding parish, in a real and meaningful way, is what drew the former engineer to the new project.

“The church wanted to see if there was a way that they could be of help to more people in the area around them and if they could use some of the experience and skills that they have developed, over decades, in a new way to help people in the workplace. I think they found that a natural outlet for that would be working with WPCS to show pastoral care for these in the area.  I work four days a week for the church and one day for WPCS. The skills and experience I am building in the church are helping me in my pastoral situation in the workplace and the wider community.”

The common theme of serving people, outwith  a church context, is embedded in WPCS wherever chaplains work. In the far north of Scotland, Rev Stewart Goudie - minister at  Melness and Tongue Parish Church and volunteer WPCS chaplain to the local Scottish Fire and Rescue Service - values the relationship between Chaplaincy and Church as part of his calling as a Church of Scotland minister.

“I see part of my role as a parish minister as providing informal ministry to the community, without competing with other people, or seeking in any way to supplant them - offering chaplaincy services to the whole parish. People have their own understanding of what chaplaincy is, but for me, it is the ability for them to talk in confidence to the chaplain about whatever they want to chat about. In my view, that is part of the role of a parish minister. 

To hear and see Chief Executive Iain McFadzean and East of Scotland Regional Organiser Chic Lidstone give an insight into WPCS please click on the following link https://vimeo.com/110240323

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