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Being Chaplain at the 53rd Manchester

Friday 3rd August 2018

When Phil (our Company Captain) asked me to share what it means and is to be Chaplain at 53rd, I panicked a bit, because I thought ‘what do I do besides loiter?’, oh and make the odd cup of tea, and well, perhaps I help out with the tuck occasionally – (and that’s dangerous leaving me anywhere near the tuck!).

I don’t think I started out as ‘Chaplain’.  When I arrived the Company already had a really good team of people – there were already some parents who were heavily involved in their own Churches who went into the groups and talked about Bible stuff.

Phil and I just felt it was right to make links with THIS church. It’s a short corridor to the centre, but sometimes a short corridor can feel like a long way – and although there were several really keen members of the congregation who regularly came to BB to help out, we felt the need for a visible clergy presence – just to try and bridge the gap.

So I started coming to BB, with no more of a plan than to loiter and be a visible presence. I mooched. I said hello. I sat around. I stood around. I talked. I listened. I brewed up. I brought a box of paper, adult colouring books – no! intricate flowers and the like!! Boxes of felt tip pens. And gradually, ever so gradually, people started to talk & I got to know the parents and carers as well as the young people.

Occasionally there would be a yell of ‘Alison – can you come in 2 minutes and tell them all about Shrove Tuesday!’ – er yes… anything for a pancake.

Or – Alison – Phil’s not here, can you do the devotions, or occasionally – our helpers are on holiday – can you take the tuck round… !

But more often, it would be – can I have a word please? Can you pray for…. Why is this happening? I’m worn out… health issues, family problems, and even.. ‘you make me feel better about my kid’ or ‘I look forward to our chats each week’ and even ‘you’re really normal aren’t you?’

I often take the parade services and it’s a joy to see families come and worship right here when this may be the only time they ever worship together.

For me it’s about being alongside the people. It’s just about being myself, because that’s who God called me to be, loitering and being rather than ‘doing’ and just being available.

And it’s a privilege. A joy and a privilege to be a part of BB and the wonderful work that goes on here. To be a little part of the team as they work together to bring the gospel alive here in Langworthy. To see Jesus touch the hearts and minds of these vulnerable and precious young people and their families.

And so if you ever come down on a Monday night, you’ll see a flurry of activity, but you also see me, in my jeans, just loitering with intent. Just being available or being ignored. It doesn’t matter. I’m just here because I love it and this is where God wants me to be. What a joy to be part of God’s plan for this place.

Alison McCauley
Chaplain, 53rd Manchester
Emmanuel Church, Salford

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