Community Chaplaincy: Chaplaincy in the Margins Open Access

Fleck, Shannon (Spring 2021)

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American culture has accepted spiritual care in institutional settings in which individuals face significant barriers to accessing spiritual care in the community. These institutions include hospitals, prisons, the military, and hospice care, and chaplains are regularly found in these organizations. However, there are other populations of people who face significant barriers to accessing spiritual care in our communities. Individuals experiencing homelessness, addiction, re-entry after incarceration, domestic violence victims, and many more, face significant social and physical barriers to accessing care. This paper proposes that just as it is accepted to have access to chaplaincy in institutional settings, chaplaincy should be available at the community level with high risk communities to assist in providing whole person care. 

Through partnership with local nonprofits working with identified populations, The Oklahoma Conference of Churches will work in collaboration to provide chaplaincy services to clients accessing services with these organizations. The chaplains will be available to work within the framework of the existing nonprofits in order to integrate into the care processes being provided in the specific setting. Chaplains might spend a full work week in one location, or work in multiple locations based on need and desire for frequency of service. 

A truly collaborative approach, this model for ministry seeks to fill a gap found in spiritual care offerings, by providing access to those not in an institution which typically provides care, and that faces significant barriers to obtaining care in a local community of faith.

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