Anglican Chaplain Training

The way Anglican chaplains are trained will depend, to some extent, on where they will be performing their chaplaincy role. Although the chief responsibilities of a chaplain are to offer personal and spiritual advice and care, the context in which this is done may affect the delivery of that advice and care. Chaplains work in hospitals, in hospices, in prisons, in universities and in the armed forces and will need some basic understanding of the particular field in which they are engaged.


According to the Rev. Gary D. Bouma, within Anglicanism as in Catholicism, chaplaincy has historically been seen as part of the church's wider mission to the world. In the United Kingdom in particular, Anglicanism has been the state religion for more than 400 years, and, as such, the church was seen as responsible, at least in theory, for the welfare of the population. For most Anglican chaplains, their training begins with a bachelor of divinity degree. Some universities include a chaplaincy placement as part of the training, but not all. Placements will be in one of the main areas of chaplaincy: hospital, hospice, prison, university and armed forces.

Features of Hospital Chaplaincy Training

Training for health care and hospital chaplains in the United Kingdom is governed by the Joint Training Office which is responsible for the training of Anglican hospital chaplains. The Joint Training Office oversees not just Anglican chaplains but all chaplaincy in the United Kingdom. Since 2006, the initial training for new chaplains has been overseen by Cardiff University and the initial award is for 20 academic credits, which can then be carried over if wanted to the M.A. in health care chaplaincy. Senior chaplains work with the university and help the trainee to make the link between their academic and practical work. Some of the courses are short and for this type of training, follow-up work aims at integrating what the chaplain has learnt into his or her practice.

Features of Prison Chaplaincy Training

Anglican prison chaplains often work in multi-faith teams, which means that the training involves some element relating to other faiths. Anglican prison chaplains need to be ordained Anglican ministers who have been in ministry for at least three years and will need the license of the diocesan bishop in order to become a prison chaplain. Some universities offer an M.Th. in chaplaincy studies, which give the chaplain experience across a diverse range of placements where mentorship and personal study go hand in hand.

Features of University Chaplaincy Training

University chaplains are often academically inclined and may have a teaching role along with their role as chaplain. Anglican chaplains have to be ordained Anglican ministers with three years in ministry. Some, but not all, universities may want ministers who have undertaken a master's in chaplaincy studies.Unlike health care and prison chaplaincy, training may be on the job under the guidance of the head of the university chaplaincy team.

Features of Military Chaplains

Anglican priests who want to be army chaplains are required to undergo initial training on a five week course at the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre in the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. The course is classroom-based and aimed at helping the trainee chaplain relate to the context of the armed forces. When the initial training is completed, there would be further training and the chaplain will eventually go out to give spiritual care during operations.

A Varied Field

Chaplaincy is a varied field and no two chaplaincy situations are the same, which is why an increasing number of Anglican ministers now take postgraduate courses in chaplaincy studies.

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About the Author

Sue Jeffels is a freelance writer with an academic background. She has published research reports, some alone and some co-authored, a short story, Virtual Blast, in Wild Thyme Writers' Anthology, and numerous articles and product reviews online. She has a B.A. in English and religious studies, and a Ph.D. in feminism and theology.

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