Via the Religion News Service:
Religious leaders from all denominations and walks of life find themselves ministering to people in their workplaces, in prisons, in hospitals, and in unexpected places when they enter the world of chaplaincy work. A new two-part documentary series begins tonight on some PBS stations, and highlights their extensive reach.
Chaplains and experts featured in the film demonstrate that, while often thought of as people dealing with death and dying, these ministers also foster everyday religious practice in places where people might otherwise not experience it: The congressional chaplain dabs ashes on Congress members’ foreheads during Ash Wednesday services. A rabbi straps a Torah scroll onto his front passenger seat before driving off to minister to retired employees. The military chaplain hears confession before the soldier picks up his gun and returns to war.
At the maximum-security Oregon State Penitentiary, Chaplain Karuna Thompson, a Buddhist, organizes religious events ranging from evangelical praise and worship to a Native American sweat lodge ceremony.
The Episcopal Café reported on the advance screening of the documentary film back in September. Tonight sees its premiere on public television.
Documentary maker Martin Doblmeier said of the chaplains that he followed, “Their ministry really does bring them into some of the most extraordinary places where people are in crisis and need.”
One chaplain featured works for Tyson Foods. Another is a military chaplain.
Despite the long history of chaplains in some professions such as the military and Congress, Doblmeier said chaplains in other fields often face questions of job security.
“The financial part of it is still very much unresolved because many of them operate on the good graces of the institution,” he said. …
Doblmeier, a Catholic, hopes the series will not only teach viewers about the role of chaplains but also give them insights into faiths that are different from their own — something that chaplains may experience on a daily basis.
“To really celebrate — not just tolerate but celebrate — what others believe and celebrate the best of what they believe,” he said, “I think enriches us all.”
Read more about the documentary at the Religion News Service.
Photo: Chaplain beret, by Trinity Evangelical Christian University Crisis Intervention Chaplain [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons