Many places have a town centre manager or, like Winchester, a Business Improvement District team, who look after the economic and practical needs of the people who work in the city.
Winchester’s City Centre Chaplaincy mirrors this by caring for their spiritual and emotional well-being. Everyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus is to serve people in their communities, to do as Jesus did when he washed his disciples’ feet. That, metaphorically, is what city centre chaplains do: they are here to listen and support people, particularly in their workplace.
A chaplain’s typical day might start by sharing bacon rolls with Hampshire County Council staff: chatting about their work issues, what’s going on with their families or activities in their own lives. We pray together about all of these and any other specific needs.
This might be followed by similar conversations and prayers with the city council, police and the owners and staff of a host of shops, cafes, offices, estate agents and other businesses.
It is a privilege and a blessing to share in the highs and lows of people’s lives.
- One lady says that things are better after an acrimonious split with her business partner.
- Another asks the chaplains to pray a blessing on her forthcoming marriage.
- A man shares his excitement about selling his business before retiring
It’s not all good news. These days, chaplains pray for people facing redundancy or relocation as some city centre shops and businesses close. It may also be about relationships, family, money or health issues.
People share lots of things with the chaplains. The team listen and provide a friendly ear. They are free, confidential and non-judgemental – listening to people of all faiths or none.
The team of volunteers are drawn from different city churches and traditions. They meet regularly to pray for one another and all share a feeling of warmth towards the city.
If you work in the city centre, the chaplains are there for you. They will listen to what delights you or what hurts in your life – large or small, significant or insignificant. A city centre chaplain does not promise to have all the answers, but they take God’s love and Jesus’ example of service to people wherever they are in their daily life.
To find out more and to contact the chaplaincy, please visit https://winccc.org.uk/.
The lead chaplain is Nick Fennemore.
THE CHAPLAINCY IN NUMBERS
Open to over 800 organisations in the city
Chaplains made over 11,000 visits in 2019
Met 3,500 employees – many of them on several occasions
Engaged in substantial, confidential conversations with around 700 people