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"The good provision for pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is seen within the wide range of experiences offered. During the inspection, pupils were observed taking up the opportunities offered by the prayer room, run by members of the local church. There is a great deal of evidence of the wide range of cultural experiences enjoyed by all pupils."OFSTED Inspector (Oxfordshire)

Chaplaincy in Schools, The 24-7 Prayer Stanford Story (Part 2)

The 24-7 Prayer Stanford community started out by offering to host a prayer space in their local community secondary school, and over the last few years this has evolved into all sorts of new things. You can read the first part of Scott’s story-telling here. This is part two.

“Becoming school chaplains grew out of the relationship we had built with the school through prayer spaces.

We’d already become a familiar sight in the corridors, and we’d started to host a weekly after-school café as well. But then we put together a proposal to serve the school community as chaplains… and the response was yes! For us this was another example of God giving us favour in our town.

Chaplaincy involves supporting students. We have the privilege of providing space to talk and a place for them to feel heard. We’re not trained counsellors, but we can be a neutral 'third-party' for the student to off-load to. They often say things like, “It can help if you want to talk about something... it's nice to talk to someone about how you feel.”

Sometimes, it’s difficult to hear what these young people are going through. They talk about being bullied, or a recent bereavement, or their family being split up, and it’s difficult because we cannot change their circumstances. However, as chaplains, we are in a position to offer encouragement and advice, and to help them find their own solutions. One student recently commented, “Chaplaincy has made me think how important relationships are. I fixed a friendship because of one of these sessions.”

We are also in a position to offer hope, sometimes in the form of prayer. And we feel that God has answered lots of our everyday prayers for the students… finding a lost mobile phone, finishing an important piece of work, as well as things like asking for a family business to be turned around, or a long-lost relative to get in touch. Rarely a week goes by without an answered prayer!

Although the main part of a chaplain's role is the one-to-one support of students, this can take many forms. We’ve hosted prayer space days, we’ve run 24-7 Prayer’s Youth Prayer Course, Origins, we’ve organised a Bible story group, and we’ve trained some students to help with the after-school café. And on many occasions we’ve been a listening ear for staff and parents too.

The school has been very generous in partnering with us over the years. Chaplaincy has now become such an integral part of the pastoral care within the school community that there is now a waiting list to see us! We are thankful for all the individuals we have been able to help so far, and are working on new ways to bless the school, including a 'Parent Chaplaincy'; reaching the parents and carers of students who attend there.”

Scott Riddle is part of 24-7 Prayer Stanford’s chaplaincy team.

PS. If you haven’t already seen this, you might like to watch 24-7 Prayer Stanford’s chaplaincy team leader, Charl Harman, describing some of the work that they do.

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Posted on 4th September 2017

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