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Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland Blog

My week with WPCS

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Edinburgh University student Graeme Allan reflects on a week in the company of WPCS Edinburgh West chaplain, Grant MacLaughlan who is attached to Corstorphine Old Parish Church.

“During the second term at Edinburgh University we have what is called an ‘Innovative Learning Week’. During this week all teaching is suspended and students are encouraged to learn something innovatively. I got in touch with Grant MacLaughlan our Workplace Chaplain as I was keen to learn what he and his colleagues do with Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland. Grant was happy to help with my innovative learning.

“Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland emerged from the former Scottish Churches Industrial Mission, but four years ago there was a belief that the name should change to reflect the different nature of workplaces in Scotland. Their role within any organisation they are involved in is to provide a listening ear and support to staff about any number of issues. These may not always be work related, but a space in which people can ‘let off steam’ free of the management structures of the company they work in. They are not there to bash people over the head with a Bible. I very much observed this as a Ministry in the community or as Paul Wilson the regional director for the Edinburgh area – whom I also spent time with – spoke of it following in the example of Jesus. Meeting people where they are, not waiting for them to come to him.

“I went with Grant on the Monday morning to Emms International and Edinburgh Airport. I spent three mornings of my week with Grant and the two other full time chaplains associated with Workplace Chaplaincy in Edinburgh. Tony Bryer the chaplain for the city centre and Paul whom I mentioned a moment ago. The Tuesday morning I spent at a training day for all workplace chaplains. This training day regarded conflict resolution within the workplace. Paul explained to me this was part of a regular monthly training programme all chaplains work their way through, in order to gain qualifications and skills relevant to being a workplace chaplain. On the first day I quickly learned two requirements were a pleasant manner and the offer of a cup of coffee to those we met. During my week I visited a number of different shops and offices too and on a few occasions was allowed to go ‘behind the scenes’ in a shop or company I was visiting with the chaplain that day. Generally people were happy and open to hear what Grant, Tony or Paul had to say regarding what they do.

“Only on one occasion did I find a particularly frosty reception coming back to us.

“So what did I learn in my week? First I learned that no matter which company people work in, similar types of problems, both big and small, can crop up in any number of them. I learned how Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland itself has grown over the last four years. They now have 80 volunteer chaplains across Scotland in addition to 11 full time staff. I was able to appreciate just how important an area of outreach to the wider community this will become as we go forward as a church. I also learned how grateful they are to churches like us here in Corstorphine that we are able to and are prepared to provide funding and support to them in their work. I was struck by the almost “privilege” afforded to the Chaplain, to be allowed to enter into these organisations. All agreements with companies are entirely at the behest of the company themselves, not all are receptive to the idea of Chaplains. Much of the time is spent making contacts, handing out cards to tell people who the Chaplain is.

If you can, I would urge you to spend some time with Grant yourself. Or at the very least offer him a cup of coffee in the Gyle some time. His work and the work of his colleagues is a very real form of outreach in my view. I was very thankful for my Innovative Workplace Chaplaincy Week.

Word on the street
Walking the walk

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