When Palmerston Place Church (PPC) carried out a parish survey Colin Sinclair, the minister, posed a simple question “What can we do to show Christian love and service in our community?”
Situated in the busy Haymarket area of Edinburgh the parish is the base for many offices and workplaces in the West end of the city centre. Accessing these workplaces became a priority for PPC.
PPC in partnership with Workplace Chaplaincy Scotland (WPCS) created an innovative role for a ministerial assistant – who for one day a week as part of their ministry is the Workplace Chaplain in Haymarket.
WPCS providing training, chaplaincy support and opportunities for access into the workplaces in Haymarket – and PPC providing the time and financial support for the Ministerial Assistant.
Jack Macdonald was appointed to this role in 2016 – and has been working effectively with the business community since then.
“Chaplaincy in the workplace is a slow burn”, says Jack, “It takes time for workplaces to embrace chaplaincy… moving from a “visit us once every couple of months” to “could you come in every fortnight”, to “come in whenever you want!”’
Over the last two years Jack has connected with a number of businesses and retailers in the Haymarket area – recognised in the community as ‘their chaplain’ –successfully introducing a lunchtime seminar series on topics such as dealing with stress in the workplace, resilience, depression and anxiety – the seminar model that WPCS has operated successfully in other locations.
As well as visiting the offices and shops he provides chaplaincy into the local Royal Mail sorting office – getting to know, and provide pastoral support for the post office staff.
Jacks work has extended recently working with the Railway Chaplain to provide a Listening Post at Haymarket Station – working within a Mental Health agenda alongside MIND and the Samaritans to provide a safe place for commuters talk with people trained to listen and care for their well being. WPCS have similar listening posts within Shopping Centres throughout Scotland.
“This partnership with WPCS has given Palmerston Place Church an effective way of connecting with the people whose workplaces are within our parish” says Colin. “The relational model of chaplaincy within workplace chaplaincy means that Jack is naturally establishing connections with people that would be difficult to reach by the church in any other way.”
Paul Wilson, regional co-ordinator WPCS, observes “The partnership working between Palmerston Place Church and ourselves is an excellent model of how the church can engage in the lives of people at work. WPCS would love to see this model replicated throughout Scotland as we currently have a greater demand for chaplaincy that can be presently supplied”