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From the Editor – September 2006

Newly appointed Chaplain with Wesley Hospital’s Department of Pastoral Care, Sue Duncan, was one person who reflected on her role as Chaplain for this month’s issue of Journey.

She said, “When I can humbly meet another’s need I accept the challenge and reality of human suffering knowing that I do not travel this path alone. I go on this path with the grace of God.”

Listening to the stories from those serving God beyond the walls of our Uniting Church in Queensland has been quite remarkable. Our Chaplains work with some of the saddest, most disadvantaged, and sickest people in our community and yet they are filled with faith, hope and love.

Jesus said in his famous story about the end times, “I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me”. Then he went on to say, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

In legends surrounding St Francis of Assisi one story tells of his moment of conversion. Francis encountered a leper in Assisi and instead of fleeing from him as did most people he dismounted from his horse and embraced the man. At that moment Francis recognised that the leper was Christ himself.

Could it be that Chaplaincy is mapping a new course for our church; that of being the Christ-embracers in our ever-more-troubled and unsettled community?

Our conversations with Chaplains over the past month have revealed a focus and enthusiasm for ministry and the Gospel that is both refreshing and inspiring. As you read the testimonies of our Chaplains in this issue of Journey you will find the kind of authentic encounters between faith and people that many of our congregations ache to experience.

Somehow, while still connected to the church but freed from the responsibilities of maintaining a congregational structure, our Chaplains roam among ordinary citizens witnessing to Christ, sharing grace and being personally uplifted.

It really makes one sit up and take notice. What is going on and how is it happening?   Could it simply be that Chaplains are meeting with Jesus more often than the rest of us?