5th February 2021

News: St Luke’s support for army chaplains

St Luke’s is contributing to a new, ecumenical pilot project enabling Army chaplains to receive monthly, one-to-one pastoral supervision. Footsteps, as the project is known, was established at the direction of the Chaplain-General to HM Land Forces, Clinton Langston.

The charity is providing qualified, experienced pastoral supervisors around the country to support ten Army chaplains of various Christian denominations, including the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church. In the pilot, supervisors from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth are supporting a further ten chaplains and Methodist Army chaplains are participating in pastoral supervision provided through the Methodist Church, which has recently become mandatory.

St Luke’s is particularly pleased that the Chaplain-General has decided to take part as one of the pilot cohort.

This programme represents a new type of wellbeing provision from St Luke’s, which continues to provide resilience workshops and reflective practice groups in the dioceses.

‘The purpose of Footsteps is to equip army chaplains, personally and professionally, to flourish in their ministry,’ says Jan Korris, St Luke’s Wellbeing Adviser. ‘It gives an opportunity for reflection, in a confidential environment which encourages mutual trust, and is designed to be both supportive and challenging. We hope those taking part will gain a much greater sense of health and wellbeing, and of integration, avoiding “hiving off” parts of themselves to cope with emotional demands, which can become damaging for them and unhelpful to those in their care.’

Army chaplains serve wherever soldiers serve, but they are non-combatants and do not carry arms.  They work with young men and women from diverse backgrounds, often with no religious affiliation.

Says Mrs Korris: ‘I was struck by what a senior chaplain told me: that he found dealing with death may take less of a toll emotionally than providing pastoral care to soldiers who have undergone trauma, such as losing limbs.  Without a structured support system, chaplains may struggle to contain the vicarious trauma that comes with listening to the pain and distress of individuals and families experiencing ongoing bereavement.’

Sessions will take place away from army premises and in person, as soon as this is possible. Footsteps’ outcomes will be academically assessed during the two-year trial period. The pilot runs from November 2020 to March 2022, with renewal planned for a further six months, following a midterm review.

If you are interested in becoming involved with this pilot at a later date, please contact St Luke’s .