Gordon Short – Waterways Chaplain with the South East Hub talks about his experiences and learning as a Chaplain and a Gideon.
I have been walking the towpaths of the Grand Union canal with more experienced Chaplains and found the work exciting and fulfilling as it gives me an opportunity to combine the skills I have gained from the Gideons as well as when I volunteered at a homeless centre.
I have found the Waterways Chaplaincy branded New testaments particularly useful and these were introduced to me by Lorraine Newman, senior chaplain for the South East.
The combination of social awareness and of spiritual insights are some of the requirements for operating along the waterfronts. Also, as a walker and cyclist of the towpaths I enjoy the natural beauty and tranquillity of the countryside. Boating experience is not necessary as it is primarily a land-based activity and training in lock operating is given as an aid in gaining rapport with the boaters living on the waters, However the people you meet are usually quite chatty, so one picks up the jargon and problems quite quickly!.
We need to understand about the work of the Canal and River Trust and the interaction with the boaters so as to steer a middle path sometimes or act as mediators. Although we are not primarily evangelists, having a pocket badged testament available is definitely a plus when speaking to people in need.
We as Chaplains are there to offer friendship, practical help and spiritual guidance when needed. This will often be achieved through prayer, referral to local ministries including medical centres, rehabilitation groups, Churches and other Christian organisations. We aim to be the hands and feet of Jesus to all, whether boaters, walkers, fishers, cyclists or dog walkers.
There is a desperate need for more Chaplains all over the country and Gideons will find this enhances their ministry now we are able to work with other Christian organisations. so please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Gordon Short, West Herts branch